I Am Conservation

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From Missouri Conservationist: Jun 2015

Mike Smith poses on the Rotary Riverfront Trail in Washington, Missouri, a city park Smith has helped maintain. “I’ve been interested in protecting and enhancing our riverfront ever since we moved into our house near the river in 1986,” said the Washington Middle School shop teacher. In 2002, Smith started the Washington Urban Forestry Council (WUFC), an organization focused on enhancing the riverfront forest. “Our main goals are increasing the percentage of canopy cover for the city, reducing the number of people that top their trees, and educating the community on the benefits of our urban forest,” said Smith.I am Conservation 06-2015 “Every year we plant native trees in some part of the city. Most recently, we developed a riverfront management plan that guides the city in managing this area as a native plant community.” The WUFC has removed invasive plants, like Japanese hops vine, bush honeysuckle, and garlic mustard, that have crowded out native species. “In one area in particular, WUFC had the city parks department use heavy equipment to clear a large area that was overtaken by these invasive species,” said Smith. “I then organized an event that drew 50 people to replant it in a variety of late succession, bottomland tree species. This will be a long-term process, but the idea is to pick a few areas that can realistically be managed successfully.” Smith also has land in Iron County that he purchased in 1976 and recently enrolled in the Forest Stewardship Program. He works with the Missouri Department of Conservation to improve the health of the forest and increase the land’s biological diversity. “I have a deep appreciation for the forests of Missouri,” said Smith. “By actively managing this land, I get an opportunity to spend a lifetime learning about it.”

—photograph by Noppadol Paothong

This Issue's Staff

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