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Conservation
By MDC staff, courtesy of Mo. Dept. of Conservation

The past 12 months was a busy time for the Missouri Department of Conservation. Today we take a look at some of the biggest accomplishments and changes for the state conservation agency 

WELCOME ADDITIONS

  • Gov. Eric Greitens announced on July 31 the appointment of long-time conservationist and outdoor enthusiast Nicole Wood to the Missouri Conservation Commission for a term that expires June 30, 2023. Wood replaced James T. Blair, IV, of St. Louis whose Commission appointment expired.
  • MDC added 14 new agents from its 2017 conservation agent class.
  • MDC opened new exhibits at Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City in January. Renovations feature new displays and an interactive design focused on forest habitat and ecology.
  • MDC began offering new Permit Cards in April as an additional way of carrying and showing proof of most related permits. The new plastic-coated cards are another option to MDC’s paper and electronic permits.
  • MDC opened the much-anticipated new shooting range on the August. A Busch Memorial Conservation Area in St. Charles in late October. 

CONSERVATION CONGRATULATIONS

  • MDC awarded Glenn Chambers of Columbia the Department’s Master Conservationist Award in March for his four-plus decades of award-winning conservation work. Chambers passed away later in the year.
  • Lincoln County Conservation Agent Kevin Eulinger received the 2017 MDC Outstanding Conservation Agent of the Year award in March.
  • In April, the Missouri Conservation Commission named Leo A. Drey posthumously as the 43rd member of its Hall of Fame for his lifelong advocacy for conservation.
  • Missouri student archers were named national champions at the National Archery in the Schools National Tournament and International Bowhunting Organization 3D Challenge held in May in Louisville, Ky.
  • Sarcoxie High School went on to finish in first place in the 3D Challenge at the National Archery in the Schools World Tournament and 3D Challenge in Orlando, FL.
  • The Center for Digital Government awarded MDC a State Government Experience national award for its MO Fishing app. MO Fishing was selected for radically improving the experience of government and pushing the boundaries of how citizen services are delivered.
  • The American burying beetle recovery program, a partnership project of MDC, the St. Louis Zoo, and others, received the 2017 North American Conservation Significant Achievement Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for exceptional efforts toward regional habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild.
  • Jim and Schatzi Ball of Caldwell County were recognized by MDC and the Missouri Tree Farm System as Missouri Tree Farmers of the Year. The Balls were also recognized at the national level as the North Central Regional Tree Farmers of the Year.
  • MDC and the Arbor Day Foundation recognized 95 Tree City USAs in Missouri, including seven new communities.
  • MDC announced in December that more than 653,000 acres of state land have been certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard thanks to the Department’s ongoing efforts to properly manage forest resources to assure their health and sustainability.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

  • MDC celebrated 80 years of “serving nature and you” in 2017. Keeping with its tradition of citizen-based conservation, MDC held special open houses around the state in August through October for more than 1,600 attendees to celebrate, share information, and gather public feedback.
  • In accordance with Gov. Eric Greitens’ executive order issued in January, MDC reviewed its regulations and invited the public to comment on all regulations of the Wildlife Code of Missouri under the Missouri Code of State Regulations. MDC’s 80th anniversary open houses around the state were an opportunity for people to comment on regulations, and the Department also encouraged people to comment online.
  • MDC continued to seek public input throughout 2017 on how conservation areas are important to Missourians by inviting the public and others to review and comment on draft management plans for many conservation areas around the state.
  • MDC introduced the Fish StL Cup competition for St. Louis area high-school-age youths.
  • MDC launched its new Discover Nature Schools (DNS) teacher portal to encourage Missouri teachers to get connected with conservation education.
  • MDC celebrated the 40th anniversary of its Natural Areas Program by encourage people to discover nature at natural areas around the state. 

COOL CRITTERS

  • MDC biologists studied reproduction and ongoing evolution of the rare and endangered cave fish – the grotto sculpin – which is found only in Perry County caves.
  • Anna White of Excelsior Springs harvested a rare white wild turkey in April. The 20-pound gobbler had a black beard, but the tom’s feathers and spurs were all white.
  • Heavy spring rains caused historic flooding for much of Missouri, including damage at some MDC conservation areas. Wildlife, however, adapted to the extreme weather conditions.
  • MDC invited folks to discover nature while watching the historic solar eclipse on Aug. 21 by watching the rare event at one its 54 conservation areas in the solar eclipse’s primary path across Missouri.
  • MDC researchers discovered lake sturgeon swimming hundreds of miles through the Mississippi River. Lake sturgeon were once common in our big rivers, but by the 1970s overharvest and river habitat decline caused their numbers to plummet.
  • Missouri birders got a winter treat with the appearance of snowy owls from the Arctic spotted around the state. 

POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS

  • In February, New Madrid County R-1 Middle School became the 600th Missouri school to join the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP). MoNASP is part of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Having 600 schools participating in the program puts Missouri as one of the top 10 states involved in NASP. The 2017 MoNASP state tournament in Branson in March drew a record 2,100 student archers in grades 4-12 from 127 schools across the state.
  • In March, conservation and agriculture groups renewed their partnership to eliminate feral hogs in Missouri. The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation helped with a $79,500 grant and additional in-kind contributions of labor and equipment equaling a total value of $132,900.
  • In May, MDC and the Missouri Bird Conservation Foundation celebrated the completion of the online Great Missouri Birding Trail with special events around the state.
  • Cowgill Elementary in Cowgill, Randall Elementary in Independence, and Southwest Livingston County R1 in Ludlow were winners of the 2017 "Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter Free" trashcan-decorating contest.
  • Bees and other pollinating insects in the Joplin area got improved habitat conditions thanks to a partnership project of MDC, Audubon, and members of the Chert Glades Master Naturalist chapter. The local project is part of the Bayer “Feed A Bee” $500,000 initiative to plant pollinator forage areas in all 50 states by the end of 2018.
  • MDC began assisting the National Audubon Society in implementing a beef program to benefit both ranchers and grassland birds. The Audubon Conservation Ranching Program links consumers to beef produced on farms that provide good grassland bird habitat.
  • MDC continued working with its numerous partners of Missourians for Monarchs in 2017 to help raise awareness and create and sustain habitat for monarch butterflies and other important pollinators through various programs and events around the state.
  • MDC grew its popular Discover Nature—Fishing program with the “teach-the-teacher” technique by inviting outside partners to help teach fishing. Volunteers from The City of Bellefontaine Neighbors group were among the earliest to help teach youth in the area how to fish.
  • MDC partnered with The City of Velda Village Hills to help prevent problems from tree roots causing heaved up concrete, broken sidewalks, costly pavement replacement, or even tree removal. They are using a special “structural soil” that forms a lattice which allows tree roots to grow outward without buckling sidewalks.
  • MDC provided more than $373,500 for wildfire suppression equipment to 169 Missouri fire departments, and also more than $6.1 MILLION worth of acquired federal excess property to 250 Missouri fire departments, including vehicles and equipment.
  • About 70 MDC staff from around the state provided much-needed wildfire suppression assistance to Colorado, Montana and Oregon throughout July, August, and September.
  • Conservation agents worked with other law enforcement staff on swift-water rescue efforts to save numerous people from drownings during the record flooding this past spring.
  • Through help from public tips and info, conservation agents caught numerous poachers and others who violated regulations of the Wildlife Code of Missouri

FISHING FEATS

  • Historic spring flooding threatened to wash downstream thousands of trout at MDC’s Maramec Spring Hatchery near St. James, but staff took quick action to save them by placing protective covers over the raceways.
  • John Paul Morris of Springfield became a Missouri record-holder after he shot a record bigmouth buffalo on a private pond in Henry County using a bow and arrow.
  • Riley Nolan of Fenton gigged a record gizzard shad on the Big River in Jefferson County.
  • Ben Faulkenberry of Imperial hooked a record skipjack herring on Joachim Creek in Jefferson County using a rod and reel.
  • Steven Wengler of St. Louis snagged a record skipjack herring on the Mississippi River.
  • James Lucas of O’Fallon caught a record redear sunfish on a private pond in Lincoln County.
  • Dominik Penner of Merriam Woods Village became a record-breaking angler when he caught a redear sunfish on Table Rock Lake.
  • Bowen Dockery of Greentop became a record-breaking angler in Missouri when he caught a green sunfish on a private pond in Schuyler County.
  • Timothy Keene of Ozark hooked a record quillback on Bull Shoals Lake in Taney County using a rod and reel.
  • Craig Barulich of Kansas City became a record-breaking angler in Missouri when he hooked a skipjack herring on the Missouri River using a rod and reel.
  • Jeff Rowland of Poplar Bluff became a record-breaking angler in Missouri when he gigged a northern hog sucker on the Current River in Ripley County. 

FORESTRY FEATS

  • MDC and the Missouri Community Forestry Council recognized the BASF plant in Hannibal with the 2017 Business or Institution Arbor Award of Excellence for caring for community trees.
  • MDC and the Missouri Community Forestry Council recognized Beyond Housing of St. Louis with the 2017 Arbor Award of Excellence for an Organization for its significant efforts to enhance trees in the 24 communities within the Normandy School District.
  • MDC and the Missouri Community Forestry Council recognized Ward 3 Alderman Mike Talbot of Elsberry with the 2017 Individual Arbor Award of Excellence for his efforts to improve the quality of life for his community by enhancing its trees.
  • MDC and the Missouri Community Forestry Council recognized the City of Brunswick with the 2017 Municipality/Government Arbor Award of Excellence. The community of 858 people and “pecan capital of Missouri” was recognized for its ongoing commitment to forestry, including being a Tree City USA for 16 years, holding innovative community-wide Arbor Day celebrations each year, and using TRIM grant funds to conduct a comprehensive tree inventory.
  • An American elm tree in northeast Johnson County became state champion tree for its species.
  • MDC awarded State Champion Tree honors to farm owners in rural Howard County for harboring the state’s largest Osage orange tree.
  • MDC congratulated Eric L’Heureux of Piedmont on being named Missouri’s State Logger of the Year for 2017. L’Heureux was also named regional logger of the year for the Southeast Region.
  • MDC certified a new State Champion Ohio Buckeye in Clayton.
  • MDC awarded $382,914 in 2017 to numerous Missouri communities through its Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) grant program. 

REGULATIONS

  • MDC changed catfish regulations at five southeast Missouri lakes to improve channel catfish populations and average size of fish harvested: Tywappity Community Lake in Scott County; Buford Pond in Reynolds County; and Thomas, Giessing, and Hager lakes in St. Francois County. Channel catfish less than 16 inches must be released. The daily limit remains four fish.
  • MDC expanded restrictions on feeding deer and placing minerals for deer from 29 to 41 counties throughout the state, effective July 1, to help limit the spread of chronic wasting disease.
  • MDC conducted mandatory sampling of deer harvested in 25 counties of Missouri on opening weekend of the November firearms deer season to test them for chronic wasting disease. Of the more than 20,730 test results received so far, 12 have tested positive for the deadly deer disease.
  • MDC began offering an all-online hunter-education course for Missouri residents 16 years or older to provide a more flexible and convenient option to become hunter-education certified.
  • MDC enacted new regulations for anglers collecting bait from the Black and St. Francis rivers. This proactive measure is to prevent accidental bait-bucket introduction of invasive Asian carp.
  • MDC proposed a ban on the commercial harvest of wild turtles and will make its final decision later in 2018. Commercial turtle trapping is putting the state's turtle numbers at risk and many commercially-harvested wild turtles are exported and sold as exotic pets or processed into food and traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Regulation changes pertaining to length limits and daily limits for small mouth and rock bass became effective in March.
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