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From Missouri Conservationist: Jul 2015

Missouri Loses a True Forest Pioneer

Leo A. Drey (Jan. 19, 1917–May 26, 2015)

Few people who met Leo Drey floating down the Current River circa 1950 would have guessed that he would alter the course of Missouri history. And if, some 50 years later, you had happened to glance into his slightly disheveled office, lined with yellowing ledger books, in downtown St. Louis, you would not have guessed it was the center of a sprawling enterprise that had changed the way Missourians think about forests.

Drey died May 26 at his University City home. His quiet, modest manner masked big dreams. When he covered his eyes with one hand, as he often did when deep in thought, the gesture bespoke a vision that transcended current realities. He was seeing a better tomorrow.

Drey was an unlikely conservation pioneer. He grew up in St. Louis, the son of an industrialist who manufactured “Drey’s Perfect Mason Jar.” After military service in World War II, Leo took a job as assistant treasurer with a shoe manufacturer. But by 1950, he decided he didn’t want to be a businessman. He had acquired a taste for the outdoors during float trips on the Current River, and he wanted to be outdoors and help preserve the Ozarks’ pristine beauty.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, virtually all of Missouri’s old-growth forest had been over cut. Companies bought vast tracts of timber, cut all the trees that could be turned into lumber, railroad ties, fence posts, or fuel — and left.

The legacy of such “cut-and-run” logging included eroded hills, streams choked with silt and gravel, and land so poor that farmers simply turned their cattle and hogs out to “free range” on what little food they could find. Fires set each spring were meant to encourage herbaceous growth for livestock forage but only added to the ecological devastation.

Drey was deeply concerned about the discouraging state of the Ozark forests and dreamed of restoring the forests to their former grandeur. But before he could paint a brighter future for Missouri forests, he needed a canvas.

With his own savings and an inheritance, he began buying abused land. His first purchase was 1,400 acres in Shannon County. Then he got a huge break. In 1953, the National Distillers Products Company in New York decided to sell its Ozarks holdings, nearly 90,000 forested acres in Shannon and Reynolds counties. Drey’s purchase of the land was the largest in Missouri history, and it marked the beginning of Pioneer Forest [].

The name reflected not only the vision of its new owner, but the land’s history. It had previously belonged to Pioneer Cooperage, whose professional foresters had not permitted clear-cutting. Instead, they managed the forest by selectively cutting mature trees for oak barrel staves.

With the help of Pioneer Forest Manager Clint Trammel, Drey set out to develop a management strategy that turned a profit while protecting the land and leaving the forest looking like forest.

Their experiment led to a method of selective logging. In contrast to even-age harvests, Pioneer Forest harvested only individual trees to ensure the health of the forest was sustained.

The forest was divided into separate tracts that were evaluated periodically to identify harvestable trees, leaving the forest as beautiful as if the trees had simply died of old age.

The practicality of “uneven-age” forest management became apparent in the profits it generated. Drey invested those profits in more forest-land and eventually became Missouri’s largest private forest landowner. Pioneer Forest grew to more than 160,000 acres.

Then he gave most of it away.

Having proved the practicality of managing forests through selective, single-tree harvest, Drey and his wife, Kay, provided for the future of Pioneer Forest by deeding 147,000 acres to the L-A-D (Leo A. Drey) Foundation, which continues to manage the land for sustainable yield of forest products. But Pioneer Forest is about much more than timber harvest. It is open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and other outdoor pursuits. Its mission also includes encouraging academic research in archaeology, botany, forestry, geology, cave biology, ornithology, ecology, and other subjects.

The L-A-D Foundation leases some of its holdings to the Missouri departments of Conservation and Natural Resources for management as state parks (including Dillard Mill State Historic Site and Grand Gulf State Park) and seven Missouri natural areas (including Current River Natural

Area, Virgin Pine Forest along Highway 19, and the Scenic Riverways Corridor Lands.)

Pioneer Forest is not the Dreys’ only contribution to conservation. When Greer Spring, Missouri’s second-largest spring, went up for sale, they bought it to prevent its development as a commercial bottled-water operation. They later sold it to the USDA Forest Service at a substantial loss. They also helped organize the St. Louis Open Space Council and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment.

The greeting on Leo’s office answering machine summed up his dream: “I’m out planting a forest. Please leave your name and number, and

 We’ll see you down the river, Leo. Until then, thank you for sharing your dream.

To view the Department’s video about Leo Drey and Pioneer Forest, visit node/19813. —Jim Low

Conservation Commission Actions

The May Commission meeting featured an unveiling of the newest mural by staff Wildlife

Artist Mark Raithel. This latest work in the Department’s Conservation Advances in Missouri series represents a decade of conservation history and accomplishments from 2000 through 2009. Presentations and discussions included avian influenza, final deer season attributes and CWD management challenges, and the strategic planning process. A summary of actions taken during the May 28–29 meeting for the benefit and protection of forests, fish, and wildlife, and the citizens who enjoy them includes:

  • Approved final order of rulemaking that sets parameters for use of Conibear® traps in water.
  • Approved orders of rulemaking to establish availability of resident landowner firearms antlerless deer hunting permits by county for those owning 75 or more contiguous acres, remove the antler point restriction in specific counties, eliminate the Columbia/Jefferson City urban zone, and establish availability of firearms antlerless deer permits by county, effective for the 2015–2016 Fall Firearms Deer Season.
  • Approved conservation area deer hunting regulations and managed hunts for the 2015–2016 Fall Firearms Deer Season.
  • Approved orders of rulemaking to establish options for the 2015 Early Migratory Bird Season dates and limits.
  • Approved Conservation Commission Fund Fiscal Year 2016 Internal Expenditure Plan.
  • Approved a contract with ASA Asphalt, Inc. for the construction of 200 acres of wetlands, three spillways, and six footbridges on Duck Creek Conservation Area (CA) in Bollinger, Stoddard, and Wayne counties.
  • Approved authorization to advertise and sell 953,941 board feet of timber located on 536 acres of Compartment 14, Sunklands CA in Shannon County, to be sold in two harvest units (Sale 1 and Sale 2). The harvest will improve forest health and wildlife habitat.
  • Approved the conveyance of .06 acre of Rockwoods Reservation in St. Louis County to the City of Wildwood for a bridge replacement project and to grant the City of Wildwood a temporary construction easement on an additional .25 acre until the project is complete.
  • Approved the conveyance of .02 acre of Rockwoods Range in St. Louis County to the City of Wildwood for a bridge replacement project and to grant the City of Wildwood a temporary construction easement on an additional .145 acre until the project is complete.
  • Approved the sale of .89 acre of Bear Creek CA in Laclede County.
  • Approved the purchase of 752 acres in Livingston County as an addition to Fountain Grove CA. The tract is a mix of open fields, forest, wetlands, and stream frontage with 627 acres enrolled in a long-term easement through the Federal Wetland Reserve Program.

The next Conservation Commission meeting is July 9 and 10. For more information, visit or call your regional Conservation office.

New and Improved Archery Range on Busch Conservation Area

The archery range on the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles recently re-opened to the public following the completion of an extensive renovation project that began last fall. A dedication ceremony and public open house were held June 4.

The new archery range occupies the same location as before, but now offers a static range with 20 targets, including 14 targets arranged from 10–40 yards in 5-yard increments. The complex also offers one elevated platform, approximately 10 feet high, with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access that includes six targets, one every 5 yards between 15 and 40 yards. The static range has ADA parking spots and ADA-compliant concrete sidewalks and accesses.

In addition, there are two walk-through field archery ranges that include a mile-long loop trail and a ½-mile out-and-back trail with 14 target stations each. Different target distances from 10–60 yards are available on both walk-through ranges. Each target lane includes a short-marked distance and a longer-marked distance to accommodate different skill levels.

The range’s normal operating hours are Tuesday through Sunday, a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset, unless otherwise posted. The range is closed on Mondays for maintenance. The range is unstaffed and free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Busch Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center, which is separate from the archery range complex, closed its doors at the end of 2014 to make way for construction of an expanded, state-of-the-art shooting range on the current property. You can now watch the daily progress of this renovation project through two web cameras that give a high-level view of the construction site at

The new Busch shooting range will incorporate the most current national shooting range design standards, including an increased number of shooting stations, new classroom facilities, and improvements for user convenience and to reduce waiting times. The entire project is part of the Department’s ongoing commitment to help Missourians improve their outdoor skills and discover nature, and is expected to take 24–30 months, depending on construction and weather.

To stay informed on the Busch shooting range renovation project, visit the Department’s online renovation update blog at

Great Catch: Missouri Anglers Capture State Record Fish

Two Missouri anglers caught record-breaking fish within a month of each other to capture state records for two different fish species. John Overstreet of Fayette captured the new alternative-method record for bigmouth buffalo when he shot one with a bow and arrow on Pomme de Terre Lake. The fish was shot in Button Cove and weighed 54 pounds, breaking the previous record, a bigmouth buffalo snagged on the Lake of the Ozarks in 1996 and weighing in at 53 pounds. Conservation staff verified the catch using a certified scale at Alps Grocery in Pittsburg. “Once I shot the fish I knew I had a decent one, but it wasn’t until we got it in the boat I knew I had a giant,” Overstreet recalled. “It took three arrows to get the massive fish in the boat. I still can’t believe I got this fish!”

Lawrence Dillman of Rockaway Beach broke another state fishing record a few weeks later when he hooked a giant striped bass on Bull Shoals Lake using a rod and reel. The new pole and-line record striped bass weighed 65 pounds, 10 ounces, with a length of 49¾ inches and a girth of 36 inches. Dillman used 20-pound test line and a chub minnow to catch the behemoth.

The new giant broke the previous pole-and-line state record striped bass of 60 pounds, 9 ounces caught on Bull Shoals Lake in 2011. Conservation Department staff verified the fish using a certified scale at the Department’s Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Taney County.

“Once the fish was on the line, I knew I had a decent one, but I didn’t at all think it was a striped bass,” Dillman said. “I’ve caught bigger fish in the ocean, but this fish is the biggest freshwater fish I have ever caught.”

Missouri state record fish are recognized in two categories: pole-and-line and alternative methods. For more information on state record fish, visit You can also go online to download our free Find MO Fish app at to access great fishing spots, regulations, and the weekly fishing report.

Did You Know?

Conservation makes Missouri a safe place to hunt.

Hunter Education is Required for Most Hunters

  • Why does Missouri require hunter education? Hunter education, along with other safety regulations, has reduced hunting incidents by more than 70 percent since it became mandatory in 1987. For this reason, we recommend all hunters become hunter-education certified.
  • Who MUST become hunter-education certified? If you plan to hunt during a Missouri firearms season or you are acting as an adult mentor, you MUST first complete an approved hunter-education certification program and provide proof of completion UNLESS:
  1. You are 15 years or younger and will be hunting with a properly permitted adult mentor 18 years of age or older.
  2. You were born before Jan. 1, 1967.
  3. You received a disability exemption from Missouri Department of Conservation’s Protection Division.
  4. You are 16 years or older and have purchased an Apprentice Hunter Authorization and will be hunting with a properly permitted adult mentor 18 years of age or older.
  5. You are the landowner or lessee hunting on land you own or upon which you reside.
  6. NOTE: If you can prove you completed an approved hunter education course in another state, you are not required to take Missouri’s Hunter Education Course.
  • What does the Missouri Hunter Education Course cover? A range of topics and skills designed to create safe, ethical, knowledgeable, and successful firearms hunters make up the course. Browse the list of topics at
  • Who can take the course? Anyone, but you must be age 11 or older to be certified.
  • How do I earn a Missouri Hunter Education Certificate? The course has two parts: knowledge and skills. You must complete and pass BOTH parts to earn your certificate.
  • Can kids try hunting without becoming hunter-education certified? Yes! We recommend that youth begin hunting with an adult mentor to become familiar with hunting and terminology before taking the course.
  • Can adults try hunting without becoming hunter education certified? Yes! Our Apprentice Hunter Authorization lets people 16 years of age and older try hunting as long as they hunt with a properly permitted adult (18 or older) mentor.

To learn all the details about taking and passing Missouri’s Hunter Education Course, visit

What Is It?

Common Buckeye Butterfly | Junonia coenia

Although many butterflies are named for their food plants, this one is named for the bold eyespots on its wings, and not for any relationship to the trees called “buckeyes.” This common summer resident can be found statewide in all kinds of open habitats. The adults visit a variety of flowers and are also attracted to decaying fruit and moist places. The abundance of this species varies from year to year. Some years it is very common, and in other years it is almost absent. Adults fly from spring through fall, with several broods during this time. Eggs are laid singly on buds and leaves of host plants.

—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