In Brief

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From Missouri Conservationist: July 2017

Flood Recovery

While most damage has been fixed, MDC staff asks for patience as repairs continue.

The main asphalt road that circles Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in north St. Louis is closed until further notice due to the spring flood damage. The levee was both overtopped and breached, shearing apart a large section of road leading up to the area’s boat ramp.

Many areas of Missouri suffered extensive damage from torrential rains and historic flooding this spring, including some MDC trout hatcheries, conservation areas, and river accesses. Trout hatcheries at Maramec Spring Park, Montauk State Park, and Roaring River State Park quickly reopened with plenty of trout for great fishing, thanks to the hard work of MDC staff and volunteers. The hatchery at Bennett Spring State Park was mostly spared.

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, located in north St. Louis County at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, is now open. The area experienced damage to roads, trails, and a boat ramp. Repairs are ongoing. Some river and stream accesses in southern Missouri also were impaired by floodwaters, but most are reopened.

For information about conservation areas or river accesses near you, including areas that are still closed, visit

Celebrate Safely

MDC reminds everyone to be careful with fireworks, campfires,
and other sources of fire during the summer season.


Don’t light fireworks in any areas where sparks could ignite dry grass, leaves, or other potential fire fuel. Always have an approved fire extinguisher and an available water supply to douse sparks or flames. Wet the area around where fireworks are being discharged. Check with local ordinances and authorities for bans on fireworks and open burning.

Outdoor Burning

Don’t burn during unsuitable conditions. Dry grass, high temperatures, low humidity, and wind make fire nearly impossible to control. Check with local fire departments regarding burn bans. A person who starts a fire for any reason is responsible or any damage it may cause.

Driving Off-Road

Wildfires can start when dry fuel, such as grass, comes in contact with catalytic converters. Think twice before driving into and across a grassy field. Never park over tall, dry grass or piles of leaves that can touch the underside of a vehicle.

When driving vehicles off road, regularly inspect the undercarriage to ensure fuel and brake lines are intact and no oil leaks are apparent. Always carry an approved fire extinguisher on vehicles used off road. Check for the presence of spark arresters on ATV exhausts.

Making a Campfire

Clear a generous zone around fire rings. Store unused firewood a good distance from a campfire. Never use gasoline, kerosene, or other flammable liquid to start a fire. Keep campfires small and controllable. Keep fire-extinguishing materials, such as a rake, shovel, and bucket of water, close. Extinguish campfires each night and before leaving camp, even if it’s just for a few moments.

Call for Help

Call 911 at the first sign of a fire getting out of control.

Report Forest Arson

Wildfires are sometimes set by vandals. Help stop arson by calling 800-392-1111 and reporting any potential arson activities. Callers will remain anonymous and rewards are possible.

Managed Fire

Fire used in the wrong way can create disasters. Used in the right way, fire can help create habitat for wildlife. For more information on using prescribed fire as a land-management tool, visit

Got a Question for Ask MDC?

Send it to or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848

Q: When do baby woodchucks venture from their dens?

A. By midsummer, woodchuck young typically are 20 inches long and weigh about 4 pounds. Commonly called groundhogs, these mammals leave their homes about this time, and after digging temporary burrows near their nursery, often move some distance away to establish homes of their own.

The young are playful and often wrestle. Babies are usually entirely under their mother’s care, although some males help as the family ventures out of the burrow.

With their thick skin and fur and layers of fat, these mammals are susceptible to high temperatures and solar radiation, so the best time to see groundhogs in July is during the coolest parts of the day.

Although they spend most of their time on or under the ground, woodchucks can climb trees. So be sure to look up, especially around elms, since this tree’s leaves are a favorite food source.

Q: Why do American goldfinches nest so late in the season?

A. According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, American goldfinches wait to nest until June or July when milkweed and thistle have produced seeds, which the birds then feed to their young. Strict vegetarians, goldfinches survive almost entirely on a vegetable diet, swallowing the occasional insect inadvertently.

Goldfinches build their cup-shaped nests in the fork of a shrub or tree, using downy plant fibers and spider webs as glue-like binding. The nests are often woven so tightly they can hold water.

Sunflower and nyjer seeds will attract these birds to your yard. However, they are prone to house finch eye disease, a form of conjunctivitis (pink eye). To help prevent the spread of this disease, clean feeders thoroughly every two weeks with hot, soapy water and allow them to dry completely.

Q: What are these?

A.  In early spring, mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) come up from the forest floor, forming a colony of umbrella-like plants with one to two leaves. The double-leaf plants also produce a solitary flower and the mayapple, a pale green-to-yellow fruit that ripens in July.

Edible and sweet, these berries — sometimes called wild lemons — were an important food source for Native Americans. Food enthusiasts pick them to be eaten raw or prepared into beverages, jellies, and preserves. Please note that the mayapple’s roots and leaves are poisonous.

Common throughout Missouri, mayapples like damp upland and bottomland forests and the ledges of bluffs. They also can be found in pastures and along roadsides.

What is it?

Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?

What is it 01

Agent Advice

From David Harms, Benton County Conservation Agent

During the dog days of summer, anglers head to the water for the catch of the day. One popular game fish this time of year is catfish. Missouri is home to three varieties of catfish — the blue, flathead, and channel.

Catfish can be pursued and taken by pole and line, trotline, throwline, limb line, bank line, and jug line. When using a trotline, it must be checked once every 24 hours or removed completely. In addition, the line must be marked with your name and address or conservation identification number on durable material. I suggest using a copper tag, available where trapping supplies are sold. Also, be mindful of the heat. If the line is too low in the water, there won’t be sufficient oxygen for the fish or the bait. The line will have to be adjusted accordingly. For more information, visit the Wildlife Code of Missouri or

What Is It?

Baby Northern Cardinals

Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) nest in thickets, dense shrubs, and undergrowth, laying three to four eggs in a nest built of stems, twigs, bark, grass, and paper, lined with fine grass and hair. Babies grow to be just over 8 inches from bill to tail. There are usually two broods a year, though up to four are possible.

What is it 02

I Am Conservation | Issac Breuer

Issac Breuer manages the University of Missouri’s A.L. Gustin Golf Course in Columbia, the nation’s first college golf course to earn Audubon International’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program certification.

I Am Conservation

  • In 1996, Breuer questioned why his team mowed the course’s out-of play areas. ”I thought, we can benefit the environment, and we wouldn’t have to do expensive maintenance.” He soon got help turning out-of-play areas into wildlife habitat.

He provides for Pollinators.

Working with MDC staff, Breuer began restoring native plants. For the last six years, he’s been planting wildflowers for butterflies and bees. ”We’ve had two youth pollinator planting days where hundreds of kids scatter milkweed seed and ID wildflowers,” Breuer said. His supervisor, Jim Knoesel, allows him to manage the course like his own farm. “I really appreciate that, and the golfers enjoy the wildflowers, too.”

In his own words

 “You don’t have to be an expert to do this. MDC and Prairie Foundation’s Grow Native! — there’s just so much great support out there. You can plant milkweed and have monarch caterpillars to watch in your own front flowerbed.”

Congrats Sarcoxie High School

Sarcoxie High School’s archery team was crowned national champions at the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) tournament in May in Louisville. Sarcoxie set the record for highest NASP tournament team score with 3,465 out of 3,600 points. It is also the smallest school to have ever won the national championship. More than 14,490 student archers in grades 4–12 from 670 schools competed, including 857 Missouri students from 45 schools.

Is your school involved in Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP)? It helps participating students — regardless of age, size, or physical ability — be more successful in and out of the classroom. For more information, visit

Managed Hunts

Beginning July 1, MDC will accept applications for managed deer hunts. The department offers more than 100 managed deer hunts for archery, crossbow, muzzleloading, and modern firearms, including hunts for youth only and for people with disabilities. Hunters are selected by a weighted random drawing. The hunts occur from mid-September through January. For more information, visit

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler