In conservation management, we actively seek and promote a diversity of plant and animal life because it produces the best results in our mission to protect and manage Missouri’s fish, forest, and wildlife resources. So, too, do we appreciate the variety of opportunities Missourians have available to use, enjoy, and learn about these resources.
As a hunter and angler, I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time afield in anticipation of the harvest. However, I also derive considerable satisfaction from simply being outdoors with the expectation of bringing nothing back beyond the memories of the sights and sounds of nature in all its splendor. While my time outdoors is often spent alone, I know I’m not alone in my enjoyment of this pastime.
According to Department of Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service research, Missouri has an estimated 1.7 million “wildlife watchers,” who spend $940 million in pursuit of activities ranging from organized bird watching expeditions to impromptu trail hikes at the local conservation area or nature center. In total, these activities support an estimated 18,725 Missouri jobs.
One frequent wildlife-watching destination, especially for birders, is St. Louis’ Tower Grove Park, which has seen more than 200 species of birds and draws an estimated 5,000 birders annually. To find out more about what makes this St. Louis landmark such an avian mecca, see this month’s article Tower Grove Park. On the other side of the state, at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City, parents are instilling an appreciation of nature in their children as their internet-based group, Hike It Baby, takes the toddlers on outdoor adventures at many of the Department’s nature centers and conservation areas. The details are available in the story Never Too Young to Hike.
Whether you’re watching woodpeckers or traipsing down trails, research shows that simply being outdoors has physical and mental benefits, all of which are accessible and affordable for all Missourians. So let’s get out there and make some tracks.
Hope to see you there.
—Sara Parker Pauley, director
1.7 million estimated wildlife watchers in Missouri spend $940 million to pursue outdoor activities which supports 18,725 Missouri jobs.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler