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From Missouri Conservationist: Oct 1996

Always from Missouri

I wanted you to know how much I've enjoyed the Missouri Conservationist over the past 25 years. I started reading it in high school in Malden as a class project.

It has now followed me through several states, including my present home in the Rockies. It helps keep me in touch with my home state.

When people ask me where I'm from, I tell them I live in Colorado, but I'm from Missouri.

Cynthia Folks Lester, Westcliffe, Colo.

Wowed by Jacks Fork

I am a native Missourian but have been displaced since 1972. I read the Conservationist regularly, but rarely have I so thoroughly enjoyed the Missouri outdoor experiences, vicariously, to the degree I did while reading Joan McKee's enjoyable treatise on the Jacks Fork. I could smell the pungent vegetation lining the banks and hear the ripples and splashes of the clear, cold waters of the river. What a marvelous rendering of the Jacks Fork experience!

W. Reid Goforth, Washington, D.C.

Streams are A-changing

I'm glad you are doing research on river changes. I own land on the Castor River in southeast Missouri and have definitely seen the stream change in the last 40 years.

There has been increased erosion of stream banks, large deposits of loose gravel and reduced numbers of fish and other aquatic life. The large shady pools have become sunny, sterile gravel bars.

Your article suggested you were studying rivers that flow through public lands, but I would like you to sample a cross-section of streams that flow through various ownerships. All streams should be considered equally, before it is too late to save them.

Gary Stilts, Wappapello

Nature in the City

I live in an apartment in metropolitan Kansas City. In my immediate environs, I have seen deer, raccoon, chipmunks, rabbits, fox, possum, geese, squirrels, turtles, snakes, beaver, badgers, ducks, muskrat, hawks, owls, turkeys, egrets, cranes, hummingbirds, coyote, lizards, frogs, mice, skunks, vultures and quail, along with a variety of other insects, fish, trees and plants.

Missouri is a natural paradise and your magazine helps me understand and appreciate it all.

Rosie Maas, Kansas City

Poisonous Perilla

There is another side to the perilla mint that your article failed to mention. Perilla contains a powerful toxin concentrated in the flower heads that can cause respiratory illness and death in cattle.

Perilla is a common weed here, especially in barn lots and grazed woodlands. In very dry years, cattle may graze it for lack of better forage. Perilla can be a real menace, and we have spent a lot of effort encouraging farmers to eradicate it.

Randy Dietz, Taney County Soil & Conservation District

Accepting Vegans

As a vegetarian of four years, I was really touched by your article, "Of Rights and Wrongs."

I think the author brought up some good points. I wish all hunters and meat-eaters were as accepting as the woman who wrote the article. I've come across some people who were really quick to put me down for being a vegetarian and who never have anything profound to say.

Nicole Rainey, St. Louis

Misconception Zapped

I agree with your editorial criticism of bug zappers. Not only do they fail to attract light-shunning mosquitos, but they are noisy and a waste of electricity.

I disagree with you about purple martins, however. Despite popular misconceptions, purple martins are not good controllers of mosquitos. Mosquitos are mostly nocturnal, while martins are diurnal, and mosquitos typically fly low, under trees, while the martins are usually high flyers.

The idea that purple martins control mosquitos came from a sales pitch from the purple martin box manufacturers.

James P. Jackson, Marthasville

Hands out!

We saw a copy of the Conservationist explaining the projects that the Earth Angels are working on. We are always anxious to see that the young people of America are interested in the environment.

We are sending you 12 pairs of Wells Lamont gardening gloves made especially for children's hands and hope the children working on these projects put them to good use.

Kevin McNicholas, Wells Lamont Outlet Stores

Branson's Beginnings

Your article in the July issue of the Conservationist about Charlie Barnes and Jim Owen brought back many memories from a bunch of years ago. I think I met Charlie at a meeting in Galena, and I met Jim several times. My wife and I bought a houseboat from him.

Jim's office wall was full of pictures of his guides and the famous and influential people they were guiding. I have always insisted that Jim Owen started the tourism business that brought Branson to where it is today.

L.B. Cook, Theodosia

Roads Cause River Decline

I just finished reading Alex Primm's article on gravel in the rivers and noticed that again all these so-called experts missed something.

Again, farmers get a bad rap for erosion. You need to look at the roads we travel. County roads and paved roads all lead to the river. All have deep ditches on both sides and are slowly sinking. Where has all that gravel and soil gone?

Two streams join in the middle of my farm. One side's watershed is pasture and the other's is a county road. During a hard rain, the road side is muddy and the pasture side is only murky.

Bob Davis, Ava

Almost Destroying Angels

My mother picked some mushrooms growing on her property and was already frying them when I came across your informative page on the Internet and learned that the mushrooms she was frying were no other than the deadly "destroying angels."

I know this may sound silly, but your article actually allowed me to save her life. Thank you for your life-saving web page.

Madeline Martorana, North Arlington, N.J.


Some people consider fish and game laws to be the least important of all the various laws that we must obey in our day to day lives. Sometimes parents will pass on to their children the idea that it is OK to lie to a conservation agent.

This past season I came upon a deer camp with a buck hung in a tree. The deer was tagged with a 12-year-old boy's permit. But the boy was glum and obviously was not the hunter who killed the deer. Likely, his father had killed it and told his son to put his tag on it, so he could continue to hunt.

The boy told me that he had killed the deer. I could tell he was lying, and it was probably the biggest lie that 12-year-old had ever told. It was also the first one that ever met with his father's approval.

What had the boy's father really taught him? That it is all right to lie to an authority figure? That it is better to lie than to face the consequences of your actions?

The next time the boy lies, it might be to a policeman or a teacher. And, no doubt, the day will come when that boy is in serious trouble at home and lies to his parents. His father will be surprised and disappointed. And I'll bet he will have no idea where his son learned to lie.

Parents often teach their children principles, without realizing the full impact of the lesson. Isn't it better to instill in your children the importance of obeying and respecting all laws?

P.S. Needham

Cass County

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Kathy Love
Assistant Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Jim Auckley
Art Director - Dickson Stauffer
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Composition - Kevin Binkley
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Staff Writer - Charlotte Overby
Composition - Libby Bode Block
Circulation - Bertha Bainer