Note To Our Readers

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From Missouri Conservationist: May 2015

Investing in Conservation: For Today and Tomorrow

Spring is here and more people are heading outside to enjoy nature. For some, it’s solitary time in the woods looking for mushrooms or turkeys, while others are busy gathering the whole family for fishing or hiking new trails. Whatever the adventure, there are many options to discover nature.

Aldo Leopold once said, “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Thankfully, Missourians recognize the value of the natural resources in our state and have made investments to carry that into the future. It is that citizen-led support and passion for conservation that has made Missouri a national leader in sustaining healthy forests, fish, and wildlife.

But as with any great investment, we must continue to put energy, resources, attention, and time into ensuring success for future decades. Today’s work is often focused on improvements for tomorrow, especially when it comes to conservation. All the Department’s priorities are focused on conserving forests, fish, and wildlife while providing opportunities for the public to enjoy these resources. We continue to do this by reinvesting, renovating, and reworking some key areas to meet those future goals.

One area of ongoing renovations is at our fish hatcheries across the state. There are four warm-water hatcheries and five cold-water hatcheries where Department staff rear fish year-round to stock public waters for the state’s more than 1 million anglers to enjoy. They also play a vital role in restoring state and federally endangered species. Upgrades to these hatcheries helps the Department ensure the health of the 10 million fish stocked annually.

Hatcheries aren’t the only resource getting upgrades for future sustainability. The Department is currently renovating select managed wetland areas across the state. Wetland complexes continue to be a priority because they serve as essential habitat for resident wildlife and migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. While these wetland improvements continue to increase the wildlife population, Missourians also flock to these sites by the thousands for spectacular wildlife viewing and hunting opportunities.

The Department also has 10 conservation nature centers, education centers, and visitor centers that provide a place to educate children and families about the outdoors. Exhibits and naturalist-led programs, as well as hiking trails, offer almost 1 million annual visitors a variety of opportunities to learn about nature. Some of these aging facilities are getting much-needed updates on exhibits.

While these are just a few examples, and there are many others on the priority list, it gives a glimpse of the importance of continuing to invest in conservation. Although it is a long-term investment achieved with daily diligence and hard work, it pays off when it really matters — decades down the road when our great-grandchildren are also enjoying the Missouri outdoors.

Thank you for continuing to support conservation. Because of your investment, the future looks bright for Missouri’s forests, fish, and wildlife.

Robert L. Ziehmer, director

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler