JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) made it through 2020 with both historic challenges and historic accomplishments. Here are some highlights.
With many Missourians mostly stuck at home from COVID-19 closures beginning in March, MDC began offering teachers, parents, students, and others its free Discover Nature Schools (DNS) nature-based curriculum online for pre-kindergarten through high school. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-offers-free-nature-focused-online-learning-resources.
MDC was also forced to close facilities at times over the past year and cancel most in-person programs. MDC staff adapted by creating and offering more programs and events online. Find them at mdc.mo.gov/events-s3.
COVID-19 had many Missourians and others looking for safe ways to get outside in nature. As a result, more people visited MDC conservation areas and natural areas during 2020 and more people bought hunting and fishing permits. To help folks discover nature for free, MDC waived the requirements for fishing permits and trout tags from March 27 through April 15. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-temporarily-waive-fishing-permits-starting-friday.
To help folks get outside safely during the COVID crisis, MDC launched its first podcast, Nature Boost, in April with a focus on the positive impact the outdoors has on each of us. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-launches-new-podcast-connect-listeners-nature.
In April, the Missouri Conservation Commission approved issuing five permits for hunting bull elk for Missouri’s first elk season. Missouri’s first elk-hunting season ended Dec. 20 with all five of the Missouri hunters selected for permits harvesting bull elk during the firearms portion Dec. 12-20. MDC congratulates the five Missouri hunters on their success: Joe Benthall of Mount Vernon, Michael Buschjost of St. Thomas, Sam Schultz of Winfield, Gene Guilkey of Liberty, and Bill Clark of Van Buren. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-reports-elk-hunters-go-five-five-inaugural-elk-hunt.
The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval in December to MDC for the state’s first black bear hunting season framework. The approved framework limits bear hunting to areas of southern Missouri and restricts bear hunting to Missouri residents only. The next step to Missouri’s first bear season will be MDC presenting recommendations to the Commission this spring for a potential initial permit quota and harvest quota. If quotas are set, Missouri residents will be able to apply during May for an October fall hunt. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/conservation-commission-approves-mdc-bear-hunting-framework.
With the help of partnerships and extensive habitat restoration, MDC brought the once-native brown-headed nuthatch back to Missouri. MDC announced the news in September. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-partners-bring-%E2%80%98squeak%E2%80%99-back-missouri-through-brown-headed-nuthatch-reintroduction.
In 2019, MDC joined the Motus Wildlife Tracking System – an international network of receiver stations tracking the large-scale movements of birds, bats, and large insects. During 2020, Motus receivers in Missouri began detecting tagged birds. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/wildlife-tracking-program-helps-mdc-partners-contribute-migratory-bird-research-across.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS
In January, MDC staff at Roaring River Fish Hatchery near Cassville were given the Governor’s Award for Quality and Productivity for a unique fishing initiative called the First Hole Program. to give veterans, children, the elderly, and those with disabilities a chance to discover nature through fishing. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-fishing-program-wins-governor%E2%80%99s-award-innovation
In February, former Missouri Conservation Commissioner Chip McGeehan and MDC Media Specialist Francis Skalicky were inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for their work in conservation. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-congratulates-former-commissioner-induction-missouri-sports-hall-fame and mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-congratulates-francis-skalicky-induction-missouri-sports-hall-fame.
The Missouri Conservation Commission and MDC bestowed their Master Conservationist award to Jeff Churan of Chillicothe in September. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-congratulates-jeff-churan-master-conservationist-award.
In October, Tom and Cathy Aley of Taney County became the latest recipients of the MDC Master Conservationist award. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/tom-and-cathy-aley-receive-mdc-master-conservationist-award.
In October, MDC and the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation presented special awards to organizations that have partnered with MDC to support Missouri conservation. Congratulations to Quail Forever & Pheasants Forever, Missouri Prairie Foundation, Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Sovereign Sportsman Solutions! Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/conservation-partners-get-special-awards-mdc-and-mchf
In January, MDC crowned a new state champion river birch tree in Howard County. Get details at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-crowns-state-champion-river-birch-tree-howard-county.
In January, Tyler Halley of Maryville caught a new state-record yellow perch. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-congratulates-maryville-angler-state-record-yellow-perch.
Also in January, Brian Holiday of Fordland broke Tyler Halley’s record and became a state-record holder after catching a 2-pound, 3-ounce yellow perch from Bull Shoals Lake. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/webster-county-angler-breaks-days-old-record-yellow-perch.
In February, MDC and Trout Unlimited kicked off the new Blue-Ribbon Trout Slam to encourage anglers to test their fishing skills on Missouri’s nine blue-ribbon trout streams. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/test-your-fishing-skills-through-mdc%E2%80%99s-first-blue-ribbon-trout-slam
In February, Justin Lakey of Ava shot a new state-record white sucker while bowfishing. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/douglas-county-man-shoots-new-state-record-sucker.
Also in February, Bryant Rackers of Bonnots Mill broke yet another state record – this time for a shorthead redhorse. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/osage-county-angler-continues-record-breaking-streak.
In April, Joseph Duncan of Fredericktown became a state record holder under alternative methods for a record gizzard shad. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/madison-county-man-shoots-new-state-record-gizzard-shad.
Also in April, Tyler Goodale of Poplar Bluff caught a new state-record spotted sucker. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/butler-county-angler-catches-world-record-size-spotted-sucker.
In May, John Garver of Williamsville shot a new state-record spotted sucker while bowfishing. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/wayne-county-bowfisherman-shoots-state-record-spotted-sucker.
In July, Robert Audrain III of St. Louis caught a new state record longear sunfish. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/st-louis-angler-catches-state-record-longear-sunfish.
Roaring River Hatchery’s renovation project was completed in the fall of 2020. Renovations included replacing old flood-control structures at the hatchery’s spring pool with electric, corrosion-proof, stainless-steel flood-control gates and installing a leak-proof pipeline (replacing an existing line) that will feed water to the hatchery. Learn more at nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/roaring-river-fish-hatchery/roaring-river-additional-information.
In February, MDC kids’ magazine, Xplor, turned 10 years old. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc%E2%80%99s-xplor-magazine-celebrates-10th-birthday.
In March, MDC celebrated the 25th anniversary of Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area in Boone County. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/postponed-25th-anniversary-celebration-eagle-bluffs-conservation-area.
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