News and Almanac

Census Surveys Outdoor Interest

The U.S. Census Bureau may be asking you about your outdoor interests for the 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation.

The survey, which was last conducted in 1991, provides the only comprehensive data available that quantifies participation in and expenditures on wildlife-related recreation. Results are used by wildlife officials, journalists, corporations, conservation groups and anyone with an interest in wildlife.

The census bureau will contact 130,000 households nationwide during April, August and January. The households will then be tracked throughout the following year.

The willingness of anglers, hunters and others to participate in the survey is critical to its success.

Readers Request Purple Martin Info

Over 4,000 requests for purple martin information arrived at the Conservation Department within the first few days after the publication of the February Conservationist, which included Jim D. Wilson's article about these popular birds.

Because of the unexpected volume of requests the purple martin brochure had to be reprinted, resulting in some delay in responding to requests. We hope people received their information in time for the martin season.

The Purple Martin Conservation Project has announced Project Martinwatch. If you entertain martins and would like to help monitor purple martin population trends and reproductive success over their entire range, write, PMCA, Edinboro University, Edinboro, PA 16444, or call 814/734-4420.

Forest Arsonisr Gets Prison Term

A Bixby man was sentenced to 12 months in a federal prison with no chance of early release, after he was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of destruction of federal property by arson. He also received three years probation and must pay $1,500 to the Forest Service for fire suppression cost.

The charges stemmed from a series of fires set March 18, 1995, near Bixby. During an interview with Forest Service agents, the man confessed to setting a fire that burned five acres of national forest land and 25 acres of private land.

The nation spent $757 million fighting fires on federal lands in 1995. In Missouri's Mark Twain National Forest, most wildfires are deliberately set.

Funding available for tree planting

The Conservation Department's Branch Out Missouri Program is offering cost-share grants to help encourage tree planting and maintenance in Missouri communities.

Grants of $1,000 to $20,000 are available to local governments, county, state or federal agencies, public schools and non-profit organizations for tree planting projects on public lands. The grants cover from 60 to 80 percent of project costs.

Applications are available from Branch Out Missouri Project Coordinator, Conservation Department Forestry Division, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180. Application deadline is April 30.

Fish for Sight Tournament Set

The Concord Village Lions Club is holding their 6th Annual Fish for Sight Amateur Buddy Bass Tournament at Truman Lake's Sterett Creek Marina May 4.

Entry fee is $100 per boat. First prize is a fully rigged bass boat and trailer. Second and third prizes are $2,000 and $1,500, respectively. Other prizes will be based on the number of participants.

All proceeds go to the Lions Eye Committee. For more information call Tom Renaud at (314) 487-5732.

St. Louis Fest Celebrates Earth Day

The 1996 St. Louis Earth Day Community Festival will be at Tower Grove Park and Missouri Botanical Garden April 20-21.

The theme of this year's festival is "Creating a Sustainable World - What Can You Do?" The event will include educational displays, tree planting, citizen action opportunities, and hands-on demonstrations for kids.

The event also features vegetarian food, live music, the annual Run for the Earth race and a bike tour. The festival is free and open to the public.

For more information about the festival or about volunteering for environmental organizations, call (314) 776-4442.

Wetland Purchase Program Extended

Following the Flood of 1993, the Conservation Department launched a program to purchase 20,000 acres of flood plain land along the state's major rivers within two years. Those lands, left open to the river and allowed to regenerate naturally into bottomland forest, would help absorb future floodwaters and prevent or minimize loss of life and property.

The Conservation Department has purchased 5,520 acres of flood plain lands thus far and has recently extended the purchase program five years to allow time to complete several complex deals now being negotiated and to look for other suitable flood plain purchases.

"We only work with willing sellers," said program coordinator Norm Stucky, "but even so it takes time to put together deals of this kind."

Stucky said the Department favors buying large parcels, preferably entire levee districts when possible, to minimize complications with neighboring landowners. In every purchase, the Conservation Department will make annual payments in lieu of taxes so the local tax base doesn't suffer.

Crappie in State Lakes Abundant

Crappie anglers should find great fishing in state waters this summer, thanks to above average rainfall four of the past five years.

The 1996 Fishing Prospects at Selected Missouri Lakes and Streams can guide you to good fishing spots around the state.

The booklet also provides regulations information and advice on equipment and techniques. For a free copy, write Fishing Prospects, Fisheries Division, Conservation Department, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102 0180.