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Believing In Streams

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Published on: Jun. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

In 1989, the Conservation Department began a program called Streams for the Future. We wanted to involve all kinds of people, from the person on the street and the landowner on the farm to the agency person in a government building, in stream stewardship.

We wanted these people to make a real difference in improving stream habitats - to cultivate and build on the positive feelings they had about streams, and in some cases, to change the negative, destructive mindsets some had regarding streams. We wanted to inform and involve.

We hoped to give people reasons for believing streams were important and provide them ways of turning that belief into action. The program was to be voluntary and long term.

Getting Citizens Involved

Getting citizens interested in better streams was easy. Many already had an appreciation for the importance of Missouri's streams. The problem was that people had an insatiable appetite for stream information. We produced more brochures, videos, displays and other information than ever before.

Working with the St. Louis Zoo, we produced a stream interactive video, and visitors became a bass or floated a Missouri stream via computer at Conservation Department nature centers. We even pioneered the development of education models such as the stream table. It shows how streams work, and it was one of the more popular displays at public events.

But people wanted something more, to become involved and to help. Working with the Conservation Federation of Missouri, the Conservation Department cosponsored the Stream Team program. People responded by forming or joining a Stream Team. Stream Teams adopt a stream and choose their own ways to improve it.

Citizens made the Stream Team program successful beyond our wildest dreams. Starting modestly, the program grew steadily, especially when we and our sister agency, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, included volunteer water quality monitoring as a Stream Team activity.

We have about 950 Stream Teams, 100 more than the number we thought we'd have by the year 2000. Since 1989, you and your fellow Stream Teamers have picked up litter, monitored water quality in over 2,500 miles of stream, inscribed storm drains with water quality messages, planted trees, held stream fairs, brought stream information into Missouri classrooms, installed fish habitat structures, argued against stream destruction projects planned by local governments, encouraged greenway parks and prodded newspapers, radio stations and TV reporters to cover all these pro-stream activities.

What does the future hold? People have shown an

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