News and Almanac

Centennial Forests: Urban Forestry (1960s)

Missouri has a long heritage of tree care in urban areas. In the mid-1800s, Henry Shaw began planting trees southwest of St. Louis in an area called Prairie des Noyer. Today this area is known as Tower Grove Park and the Missouri Botanical Garden-two St. Louis landmarks. In the late 1800s on the other side of the state, George Kessler designed the wide, tree-lined boulevards and forested parks for which Kansas City is famous today.

In 1969 Missouri became one of the first states to establish a formal urban forestry program. Urban foresters provide information about tree care, selection and protection for communities. They also assist arborists, nurseries and homeowners with insect and disease identification and training. The Conservation Department has urban foresters assigned to the St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Cape Girardeau and Columbia metro areas. Resource foresters provide similar services in other communities.

Trees are as much a part of a community's infrastructure as streets, utility systems and sidewalks. They cool streets and parking lots, counteracting the "heat island" effect created by vast expanses of concrete and asphalt. Trees filter dust and pollution from the air and reduce noise pollution. Their spring flowers and fall colors add beauty and increase property values. Caring for urban trees is so important that several Missouri cities have hired urban foresters.

This year 52 Missouri communities received recognition as Tree Cities, USA. These towns have demonstrated their commitment to urban forestry by enacting tree care ordinances and developing active tree management programs. For more information about how your community can participate, write to Tree City USA, Forestry Division, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Bruce Palmer

Fascinating Forest Facts

  • Healthy forests remove about 1.8 pounds of carbon dioxide and release 1.3 pounds of oxygen into the air for each pound of wood produced. One acre of trees can remove 13 tons of dust and gases from the air every year.
  • Water in tree-lined streams is 10 degrees cooler than water in nonforested streams.
  • A few well-placed trees around a house can reduce heating and cooling bills by as much as 50 percent.
  • The average life of a tree in a heavily used city park is 25 to 30 years. In contrast, trees in remote rural areas live 100 to 150 years.
  • Each year, the average American uses the wood and paper products equivalent of a tree 100 feet tall and 18 inches in diameter.
  • One cord of air-dried oak firewood weighs more than 4,000 pounds. That cord could be used to produce 2,700 copies of the average, 36-page Sunday paper.
  • A 2,000-square-foot single-family home contains up to 13,000 board feet of lumber and 9,500 square feet of wood panel products. Home construction accounts for two-thirds of all domestic wood consumption in the United States.

Fish Hawks Return to Missouri After 100-year Absence

Missourians who love wild things got one more reason to rejoice in March, with the first confirmed osprey nesting in the Show-Me State in a century. Gene Arnold, a Henry County landowner, spotted the ospreys building a nest on a utility pole on the Deepwater Arm of Truman Lake.

Ospreys-also known as fish hawks because of their preferred food-disappeared from Missouri around 1900 due to loss of habitat. Creation of large lakes in recent decades has increased osprey habitat dramatically, but this alone wasn't enough to bring them back. Male ospreys always return to the areas where they learned to fly, bringing mates to build nests. So once an area loses its osprey population, the birds almost never return. The Conservation Department got around this catch 22 situation by importing 29 ospreys between 1994 and 1998.

Observations through a telescope allowed researchers to confirm that the male osprey nesting at Truman Lake this spring was fledged in 1996 at Pony Express Lake.

Good, But not That Good!

Do you still have your copy of the May Conservationist? If so, get a pencil and go to the "Best Turkey Season Ever" item on page 30. Toward the end of the first paragraph, where it tells how many birds Missouri hunters checked during the 2000 spring turkey season, scratch out 65,841 and write in the correct number, 56,841.

Hoax Takes Aim at Deer Hunters

Someone with a fax machine and a knack for mischief is spreading misinformation about plans to change deer hunting season. Several people called the Conservation Department in June to ask about faxes they received saying that Missouri's deer population is down and this year's deer hunting regulations had been changed. Don't buy it; it's a hoax.

The state's deer herd is in excellent condition. In fact, it's larger than the Conservation Department would like in many areas. Information printed in the 2000 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information Guide booklet is correct. The booklets are available wherever deer hunting permits are sold.

Dove Detectives Needed

Dove hunters and birdwatchers can help the Conservation Department keep track of two trends that are causing concern for Missouri's native dove, the mourning dove.

The Conservation Department is in the second year of a four-year study aimed at learning how the disease trichomoniasis may affect dove populations. Researchers are gathering samples of doves killed by hunters or found at bird feeders statewide. Missourians who encounter doves that have difficulty flying, act listless or have swollen necks are asked to save the birds for the Conservation Department. Dead birds should be placed in plastic bags and kept cool, but they should not be frozen. Freezing renders them useless for diagnosis. The disease does not pose a health threat to humans. If you find birds with trichomoniasis symptoms, call Conservation Department Wildlife Research Biologist John Schulz at (573) 882-9880 ext. 3218.

The Eurasian collared dove, native to the Middle East, turned up in Missouri two years ago in Cape Girardeau, St. Louis and Marion counties. The birds now might be sighted anywhere in the state at backyard bird feeders, grain elevators or crop fields. They have been known to nest in the middle of cities.

Dove hunters in particular are likely to encounter collared doves. The birds have dark gray bands on the backs of their necks. Their tails are square at the end, rather than pointed. In contrast to mourning doves' overall buff color, collared doves are gray-brown, with purplish buff throats. They often squawk in flight; mourning doves don't. The collared dove's call is three syllables, "kuk-koooo-kook."

Collared doves aren't known to cause any ecological or economic problems, but the arrival of any exotic species warrants watchful attention. If you see one, notify the Conservation Department by calling (573) 751-4115, ext. 3196 or (573) 882-9880, ext. 3218.

Schulz is interested in receiving specimens of collared doves. If you shoot or find one, do not freeze it. Freezing destroys evidence of parasites and disease organisms. Keep specimens refrigerated or at room temperature, and call the nearest Conservation Department office as soon as possible.

Lek Trek Events Expand

More events have been added to the Missouri Grasslands Coalition's three-month "Lek Trek." The 565-mile journey will engage landowners, conservation groups and citizens in an effort to ensure the future of Missouri's native grasslands and the wildlife that depends on them for survival.

The Lek Trek passes many "leks"-flat, open areas where prairie-chickens perform their spring mating dance. The Grasslands Coalition selected the greater prairie-chicken as the Lek Trek mascot because the large, colorful bird is unique to prairie areas. The prairie-chicken now survives on only a fraction of the range it once inhabited in Missouri, and it is only one of hundreds of unique plants and animals that thrive on native grasslands. Rare and stunningly beautiful butterflies and nearly half the bird species that migrate between North and

Central/South America spend part of each year on prairies. Lek Trek goals include raising money for prairie restoration, increasing awareness of the value of prairies and helping landowners who are interested in improving prospects for the survival of grassland wildlife.

The Lek Trek begins July 21 at the Missouri-Iowa border near Hatfield and heads south. On Sept. 23, a second group will begin a northward trek from the Arkansas Border near Southwest City. The two groups will rendezvous Oct. 14 at Prairie State Park near Lamar. In between, participants will experience some of Missouri's best remaining prairies, learn about prairie ecology from experts and take part in a variety of events that highlight the value of grasslands. They also will raise money pledged in return for completing trek segments.

Trekkers will cover a different segment of the trail each week. One day of each week-usually a Saturday-the public will be invited to join in a 3- to 5-mile public walk, finishing at the site of a Lek Trek special event

Another day each week will be set aside as a "Learner Day," when naturalists will share prairie lore with hikers, school classes and Scout and conservation groups. Some Learner Days are reserved for school groups. On others, the public is welcome to join Grasslands Coalition biologists and learn about prairie life.

To learn more, visit the Lek Trek Web site at www.lektrek.org, or contact the Lek Trek office, 315 Lawrence St., Kansas City, MO 64111, phone (816) 561-8735. You can send questions or comments by e-mail to Sharron.Gough@mdc.mo.gov or Lintecum.michael@worldnet.att.net.

Lek Trek Events

Local Lek Trek events are open to the public. These will include nature walks, living history displays, historic characters, wagon rides, live music and dancing, food and activities for all ages. Call the contact numbers below for information about each event.

  • Dunn Ranch, July 22, (660) 867-3866
  • Eagleville, July 24, (816) 561-8735
  • Bethany, July 29, (660) 425-6358 or 425-6628
  • Trenton, Aug. 4-5, (417) 675-2205
  • Chillicothe, Aug. 12, (660) 646-6122
  • Lexington, Aug. 18-19, (660) 259-4654
  • Blue Springs, Aug. 26, (816) 228-3766
  • Knob Noster, Sept. 2, (660) 563-2463 or 563-2939
  • Cole Camp, Sept. 8-9, (417) 533-9301
  • Clinton, Sept. 16, (660) 885-8166
  • Taberville, Sept. 23, (660) 885-6981
  • El Dorado Springs, Sept. 30, (417) 876-5226
  • George Washington Carver National Monument, Sept. 30, (417) 325-4151 or 358-5801
  • Nevada, Oct. 7, (417) 876-5226
  • Joplin, Oct. 7, (417) 623-1180 or 623-2341
  • Prairie State Park, Oct. 14, (417) 843-6711

Learner Days events:

  • July 27 Grand Trace, (660) 726-3746
  • Aug. 2 Helton C.A., (660) 726-3746
  • Aug. 29 Powell Gardens, (816) 697-2600
  • Aug. 31 Warrensburg, Sharron Gough, (417) 876-5226
  • Sept. 5 Green Ridge (Katy Trail), Kathy Cooper, (417) 533-9301
  • Sept. 14 Calhoun (Katy Trail), (660) 885-5652 or (660) 885-8642
  • Sept. 19 La Due (Sharp Brothers Seed), (660) 693-4666
  • Sept. 22 *Taberville Prairie, (660) 885-6981
  • Sept. 27 *Seneca Schools, (417) 325-4151
  • Sept. 28 *El Dorado Springs, (417) 876-5226
  • Oct. 1 Shawnee Trail C.A., (417) 681-1094
  • Oct. 4 *Diamond Grove Prairie, (417) 681-1094
  • Oct. 5 Camp Clark, (573) 884-6861 ext. 3225
  • Oct. 11 Bushwhacker C.A., (417) 681-1094
  • Oct. 12 Comstock Prairie, (417) 681-1094

If you are unable to obtain information from any of these numbers, call (417) 876-5226.

* for school groups only

Kudos for "Energizer" Volunteer

You might say Bob Dyer is the Energizer volunteer-he just keeps giving and giving. Dyer recently became the first person to perform 5,000 hours of volunteer work at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center and the second person in the state to reach the 5,000-hour mark. He began volunteering in 1990 and since that time has become a fixture at the nature center, greeting visitors at the front desk, patrolling the parking lot, walking the nature trails, filling bird feeders and serving popcorn at special events.

His latest special project was a new bluebird nest box trail at the nature center, where he can be seen conducting weekly checks of nesting success. He's also always available to mentor fledgling volunteers. His service-5,000 hours and still counting-is a prime example of the kind of citizen involvement that has made Missouri's conservation program an international leader.

Dove and Teal Seasons Set

The Missouri Conservation Commission approved early migratory bird hunting seasons at its May meeting, tentatively setting a 16-day teal season and a split dove season, subject to final approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The season for blue-winged, green-winged and cinnamon teal will be Sept. 9 through 24. Dove season will run from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30 and from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, with daily and possession limits of 15 and 30, respectively. Rail season will be Sept. 1 through Nov. 9, and snipe season will be Sept. 1 through Dec. 16. Woodcock season will be Oct. 15 through Nov. 28.

Fiberglass Boats Need not Apply

If you have an aluminum boat, you can take part in U.S.A. Bass Club #7549's fifth annual aluminum-only buddy bass tournament Sept. 10 at Indian Creek Marina on Mark Twain Lake. For an entry fee of $75 you can compete for prizes equal to 75 percent of entry fees. The top 10 percent of the field will receive cash prizes. The winning team also will receive two gift certificates worth up to $1,000 each toward the purchase of Mercury or Mariner motors. There will be an optional big-bass pot with an entry fee of $15 and first-, second- and third-place prizes. For more information, call Jeffrey Risinger at (314) 878-4857.

When Bambi Goes Bad

A recent incident in a St. Louis suburb points up the importance of remembering that wildlife really is wild, even when animals appear tame.

A Town and Country resident called the Conservation Department to report that a female white-tailed deer had chased his dog. The caller was less worried about the dog than he was about what such an aggressive deer might do if approached by a child, whose expectations of deer behavior might be based on movies where deer talk and act like people.

His worry is well founded. Under some circumstances whitetails can be dangerous, as people learn every year. A 79-year-old Arkansas woman was attacked by a mature whitetail doe that she had been feeding for some time. First it butted the elderly woman, knocking her to the ground. Later, with wildlife biologists present, it knocked her down again and began stamping with its hard, sharp hooves. Biologists had to shoot the deer to stop the attack.

Ollie Torgerson, Wildlife Division administrator for the Conservation Department, remembers an encounter with a penned 10-point buck several years ago. The six- foot, 180-pound biologist was trying to herd the deer into a pen when it turned on him. Torgerson grabbed the deer's antlers and immediately found himself on his back being pushed around like a rag doll. Six men finally subdued the deer, saving Torgerson from a goring. He was lucky; such incidents sometimes prove fatal.

Does with fawns are more likely than the average deer to turn on humans out of protective instinct. Bucks undergo a Jekyll and Hyde-like transformation in the fall, when they compete aggressively for does, and any deer can be dangerous if it feels threatened.

Wild animals have powerful instincts to help them survive. Their behavior patterns are completely different from domestic animals and absolutely unpredictable. Animals in the wild have a natural fear of humans and generally are not dangerous because they avoid contact with people. But feeding animals to lure them close for viewing robs them of this innate fear. Raising wildlife in captivity has the same effect. Approaching such "tame" animals puts them and you at risk.

St. Louis RV Show Returns to Former Home

The St. Louis Fall RV Show will return to Westfield Shopping Town, South County, Sept. 8 through 10 after two years at Mid Rivers Mall in St. Peters. The event, sponsored by the Midwest Gateway RV Dealers Association, will offer visitors a chance to examine nearly 250 motor homes, travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, folding campers, miniature motor homes, van campers and conversion vans. Also on hand will be displays of campgrounds, resorts and recreational vehicle accessories.

Westfield Shopping Town is in Oakville, 12 miles south of downtown St. Louis. The show will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 8 and 9 and from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sept. 10. For more information, call (314) 355-1236.

Habitat Hints: Patching perforated ponds

Most ponds lose some water due to leaks, and it's not uncommon for the water level in ponds to fall in the summer or during times of drought. But if your pond is chronically low you may have a problem that needs attention.

The most common cause of pond leaks is tree roots penetrating the dam. Cutting large trees isn't wise, since decaying roots leave fissures through which water can escape. Instead, prevent the problem from worsening by cutting all trees less than 3 inches in diameter and repeat the procedure as often as necessary to prevent new trees from growing.

Improper dam construction is the other major cause of leaks. Usually the problem is insufficient clay content in the earthen dam, making it too porous. The surest cure is rebuilding the dam. But leakage sometimes can be stopped by applying bentonite, a special clay that expands to twice its dry volume when wet, sealing holes.

Bentonite is used in drilling, and is available from drilling supply companies or farm co-ops. It can be used several different ways, which are outlined in "The Problem of Leaky Ponds." This and other Aquaguide publications are available on request from Conservation Department regional offices. Information about designing and maintaining ponds to prevent leakage can be found in the "Missouri Pond Handbook," which is available by writing to Pond Handbook, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.