A Strategy for Conservation Success

Strategic planning is tedious work. It's not nearly as interesting as counting bugs in leaf litter, checking anglers on a stream or flying over snow-covered conservation areas to census deer populations. But planning is critical. It points us in a certain direction. It tells us where to put our efforts, thoughts and funds. Perhaps most important, it articulates a philosophy that can guide each and every Conservation Department employee.

We've had plans before. During the campaign for the sales tax amendment that appeared on the state ballot in 1976, the Conservation Department developed a long-term plan that detailed its approach to the task of conservation in Missouri. When voters chose to tax themselves to protect and improve wildlife populations and increase outdoor recreational opportunities, Design for Conservation was launched.

"Design," as it came to be known, detailed our priorities for more than a decade. At the time, the Conservation Department was relatively land-poor. Design emphasized acquiring critical habitat before rising real estate prices put it forever out of reach.

A series of five-year plans followed Design for Conservation. The 1990-94 plan focused on improving the management and facilities on existing lands. The 1996-2000 plan stressed citizen involvement and private land issues, as well as improving water resources.

The latest strategic plan is the most flexible yet. It covers a variety of conservation concerns, but its most descriptive quality is that the plan is upgradeable and updatable. You might say the plan plans to be responsive to the unforeseen but inevitable changes in people and their attitudes and the environment.

Forming a plan for a large, diverse government agency like the Conservation Department forces you to look both backward and forward. Understanding where you've been and how you've come to where you are helps you determine the proper direction to proceed.

The planning process had to start with the mission of the Conservation Department. Our overall mission is the core mandate from which all Conservation Department activity proceeds.

Our Mission:

"To protect and manage the fish, forest, and wildlife resources of the state; to serve the public and facilitate their participation in resource management activities; and to provide opportunity for all citizens to use, enjoy, and learn about fish, forest, and wildlife resources."

The key words in this statement are the verbs: protect, manage, serve, facilitate and provide. They guide our work. They keep us focused and active. They make it our duty to engage hunters, anglers and landowners.