Foundation seeks contributions to upgrade trout park

News from the region
Published Date

LEBANON, Mo. – If you have ever wished it was easier to get to the water at Bennett Spring State Park, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF) has a way to turn your wish into a reality.

One of the most popular places to fish at the park is just upstream from the stone bridge adjacent to one of the hatchery buildings operated by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). This site also offers a stunning view of the park’s iconic dam and waterfall. Years ago, this bank was covered with a rough concrete slurry to prevent erosion. That was an inexpensive solution to the erosion problem, but it is unattractive and difficult to negotiate on foot.

MCHF, a nonprofit citizen’s group set up to support conservation- and recreation-related projects, wants to replace the makeshift bank covering with a permanent, concrete walkway and viewing platform. As envisioned, the platform would be 72 feet long and 5 feet wide. MCHF is trying to raise $45,000 to fund the project.

“The current situation is inconvenient and deteriorating,” said MCHF Executive Director Rick Thom. “Fixing it makes sense for a lot of reasons. Unfortunately, money for improvements at state parks is very scarce right now, even for projects with price tags as modest as this one. We looked at this situation and decided it was a case where the people who love and use the park can accomplish for themselves what government can’t do.”

Thom noted that as many as 180,000 anglers visit Bennett Spring annually. An average contribution of $10 from just 2.5 percent of those anglers would be enough to fund the work. MCHF hopes to raise the money in time to build the platform before the trout-fishing season opener on March 1, 2012.

MCHF is accepting contributions at, or by sending contributions to MCHF, PO Box 366, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0366. Donations should be marked “Bennett Spring Platform.” Donors at $1,000 and above will receive a framed print of the 1995 Missouri Trout Stamp signed and numbered by wildlife artist Chuck Witcher. The print features a beautiful brown trout. The trout stamp of the same number is also mounted with the print. A permanent plaque at the structure will recognize donors at two levels, $1,000 and $5,000 and above.