News and Almanac

Prairie Video to Premier at Nature Centers

The Conservation Department's newest videotape, "Missouri's Tallgrass Prairie," will premier at nature centers in September and October. The 49-minute video traces the origins and history of the state's most fertile landscape from its pre-settlement grandeur to current restoration efforts.

Narrated by James Earl Jones, the tape features an original music score, stunning video of wildlife, wildflowers and wildfire and film footage of early prairie history.

To catch an early showing of the video, visit:

  • Springfield Conservation Nature Center (CNC) at 2 and 4 p.m. Sept. 16, and meet Dorothy and John Snadon, third-generation owners of prairie land featured in the video. Call (417) 888-4237 for more information.
  • Runge CNC in Jefferson City at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sept. 15. While you are there, visit a living prairie on a guided nature hike at 10 a.m. or noon. Prairie exhibits, crafts, an Indian tipi display and pioneer games for kids also are part of the day's festivities. Call (573) 526-5544 for more information.
  • Rockwoods Reservation at Glencoe from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 21. A prairie walk will precede the video showing. Call (636) 458-2236 for more information.
  • Powder Valley CNC in Kirkwood at 7 p.m. Sept. 28. Visit with naturalists to find out what lives on a prairie and enjoy a prairie snack. On Sept. 29, learn more about what a prairie is, tour the prairie garden and participate in prairie games and crafts.

Hopping Fun at the Endangered Species Walk/Run

Do whatever it takes to get to the third annual Endangered Species Walk/Run Sept. 29 on the Katy Trail in Central Missouri. Headquarters for the10K run, the 5K run and the 5K walk will be the North Jefferson City pavilion at the junction of Highways 63 and 54.

Proceeds from the walk/run will benefit endangered species. Registration costs $15 for participants 15 and older and $10 for those 14 and younger. Entry forms are available from Endangered Species Walk/Run, Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180; or by calling 573-751-4115 ext. 3807. You can download registration forms at <www.missouriconservation.org>, keyword "walkrun."

Participants will receive long-sleeve T-shirts with artwork (shown at left) created by Conservation Department artist Mark Raithel that features forest species of conservation concern. Those who can't participate but make a donation of $18 or more can receive a T-shirt. Just send in a registration form expressing this preference.

This year's walk/run is sponsored by the Columbia Audubon Society, Grasslands Coalition, Jefferson City Parks and Recreation, Missouri Botanical Garden, Conservation Department, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Prairie Foundation and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

National Program Boosts Quail

A national coalition of wildlife managers is developing a habitat improvement plan aimed at restoring quail populations to their 1980 levels. The program is the first-ever, range-wide effort to restore bobwhite quail.

Spearheaded by the Wildlife Management Institute, a national, nonprofit conservation organization, the quail restoration program will form partnerships with private landowners.

Widespread habitat degradation underlies quail population declines of 70 to 90 percent throughout their range since 1966. The program will concentrate on developing land-use practices that improve cropland, pasture and forests for quail habitat. It will offer landowners incentives to manage their land for quail. The habitat draft proposal is scheduled for completion this fall.

Muskie/Buddy Bass Tournament Slated for September 28-30

Missouri's only fishing tournament devoted to muskellunge is set for September 28-30, but this year, there's a new twist. The tournament now has a bass division, too.

The 27th Annual Lake Pomme de Terre Open Muskie and Buddy Bass Tournament offers $3,600 in cash prizes for the top five places in the muskie division. The bass division carries an additional $1,400 in cash prizes for the top three places. Daily and overall prizes will be awarded for the longest muskie caught and released, and also for the biggest bass.

Proceeds from the tournament will benefit the muskellunge management programs of Muskies, Inc., a nonprofit organization. In the past, funds have been used to purchase nets to catch hatchery brood stock for the Conservation Department's muskie stocking program.

For entry forms and full tournament details, contact Wayne Humphrey, 768 Country Manor Lane, St. Louis, MO 63141. Contact him by phone at 618/286-5000 weekdays or at (314) 878-7732; or via e-mail at <wehumphrey@hotmail.com>.

If you want a muskie fishing lesson before the tournament, contact Chris Wright, 1003 N. Jackson, Raymore, MO 64083, or call (816) 331-5797. For a $100 donation to Muskies, Incorporated, one of the members of the Pomme de Terre Chapter will take you on a guided fishing trip on September 15 and share the secrets of how to catch "the fish of a thousand casts." All equipment and supplies will be furnished, including a banquet and social after the day's fishing.

Tom Baskett Joins Conservation Hall of Fame

The late Thomas Baskett, a professional conservationist with a list of achievements as long as his career, is the latest inductee into Missouri's Conservation Hall of Fame.

For more than 50 years Baskett was a major player in the conservation movement in Missouri and the nation. He worked 32 years for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as leader of the Missouri Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, building the program into one of the most successful in the nation. He also helped produce the next generation of conservation professionals as a professor of wildlife science at the University of Missouri.

Baskett was instrumental in establishing guidelines to control pesticide use in the United States. The landmark decision to restrict the use of DDT was achieved during Baskett's tenure. He wrote more than 80 scientific papers and several books, and he guided students in the publication of 40 papers advancing the science of wildlife management.

The Chevron Conservation Award, the oldest privately sponsored recognition program honoring conservation role models, is among the many awards Baskett has received. He also received the Conservation Department's Master Conservationist Award and the Wildlife Society's Aldo Leopold Memorial Award.

Health Officials Update Missouri's Fish Consumption Advisory

An updated fish consumption advisory from the Missouri Department of Health has some good news and some extra cautions for children and women.

In July, state health officials removed an advisory against consuming catfish, carp, buffalo, drum, suckers and paddlefish due to chlordane contamination. A ban on that pesticide has reduced contamination, and these fish are again safe to eat in any amount throughout Missouri.

However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently tightened standards for human consumption of fish contaminated with methylmercury. This triggered a new state advisory. The amount of methylmercury in Missouri fish has not increased. However, the new advisory recommends that women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant, nursing mothers and children 12 years of age or younger not eat largemouth bass more than 12 inches in length. Anglers can practice catch-and-release fishing or may choose to eat smaller fish. Other alternatives include targeting sunfish, channel catfish, carp and suckers as a food source.

"Fish is an excellent and healthy food source," said Randy Herzog, Conservation Commission chairman." The advisory addresses concern only for a sensitive population who are particularly vulnerable to concentrated levels of mercury. Those not in the sensitive population can safely consume largemouth bass."

Manitou Bluffs Section of Missouri River to Get a Facelift

Three groups will work Oct. 6 to give the Manitou Bluffs section of the Missouri River a facelift. The Conservation Department, in cooperation with the Missouri River Communities Network, the Mississippi Beautification and Restoration Project and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, is sponsoring an daylong project to remove debris from the river from Rocheport to Hartsburg.

The project will include volunteers and workers in boats and on shore. Trash ranging from major appliances to beverage cans will be collected at several sites. The material collected will be loaded onto a barge and taken to St. Louis, where as much of the material as possible will be recycled.

After the day's work, the sponsoring organizations will host a Missouri River Relief Expo, with live entertainment and informational displays and speakers on Missouri River management. Food and beverage vendors will supply refreshments. To register for event, call (573) 442-5699 or visit online.

New Conservation Commissioners Appointed

The Missouri Conservation Commission welcomed two new members in August. Gov. Bob Holden appointed Stephen C. Bradford of Cape Girardeau and Cynthia Metcalfe of St. Louis to six-year terms on the commission. They will serve until July 1, 2007.

Bradford and Metcalfe succeed Randy Herzog of St. Joseph and Ron Stites of Plattsburg, whose terms expired this year. The outgoing and incoming commissioners are Democrats. Under Missouri's constitution, no more than two of the four conservation commissioners may belong to the same political party.

Bradford, 55, is executive vice-president and a co-owner of The Pyramid Group, Inc., of Cape Girardeau, a company that provides skilled nursing and in-home services to the elderly. His love of nature and hunting dates to his childhood. He is a member of the Missouri Conservation Federation of Missouri and former Commissioner of Administration for the State of Missouri, and he operates several farms.

Bradford was raised in a rural area but has also lived in urban settings. He says he intends to keep an open mind on issues facing the Commission. "I plan to focus on the complete mission of the Commission, and I feel an obligation to both the rural and urban needs of the state." He says. "All citizens of Missouri need to enjoy natural areas and promote conservation in all its aspects. People-especially children-who come into contact with nature through Conservation Department programs will become better stewards of our resources."

Metcalfe, 60, is a freelance writer, a master gardener and a volunteer for the Missouri Botanical Garden. A former University City Council member, she is a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee of the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Task Force of Missouri. Her interest in nature took root in family childhood outings in St. Louis County, and while exploring area parks and becoming involved in nature-related groups, such as Trailnet and Gateway Parks and Trails 2004.

"I am eager to help the Commission fulfill its mission to reach all citizens of the state, especially those in our urban areas," said Metcalfe. "Our citizens need to clearly understand the full conservation system, which includes nonconsumptive recreation like hiking and trails and management through hunting and fishing."

Alligator Gar Record Set

David Smith, 31, of Perryville set Missouri's first-ever state record for alligator gar in June. The fish weighed 115 pounds, 2 ounces. Smith caught the fish in the Headwater Diversion Channel in Cape Girardeau County. The Conservation

Department logged the record in its "other methods" category, since Smith took the fish with an arrow fired from a bow fitted with a fishing reel.

Alligator gar are uncommon in Missouri but are not formally classified as rare or endangered because the species' range barely extends into the Show-Me State. The fish are more often seen in the Mississippi River and its tributaries south of Missouri. Alligator gar measuring more than 10 feet long and weighing more than 300 pounds have been reported in other states.

Big Day on the Mississippi River

Clarksville, Missouri, welcomes visitors to the banks of the Mississippi River Sept. 15-16 for the seventh annual Big River Days. The event focuses on the history, lore and life of the river, with live reenactments and programs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Clarksville boasts one of the few riverfront parks on the Mississippi. Big River Days visitors can enjoy the river while watching British military reenactments, a fur trader's camp, construction of a Lewis and Clark period dugout canoe and a large mobile aquarium containing fish found in the Missouri River. Barge excursion rides on the Mississippi will be provided on both days. Artisans will be on site demonstrating blacksmithing and other traditional crafts. Special programs include live river otters, kids' crafts, wildlife calling and live blues music. Other exhibits focus on river wildlife and recreation.

The park is one block east of Highway 79. For more information, contact the Clarksville Main Street Office at (573) 242-3993.

Rich Grasslands Cut Labor, Enhance Beauty

Is the land around your house visually impoverished? Do you run yourself ragged keeping grass mowed? Prairie plantings solve both problems.

Prairie plots offer several advantages. Because they are adapted to local conditions, native prairie plants require less maintenance than non-native varieties. A mix of vivid wildflowers ensures ever-changing splashes of color from spring through fall. Prairie plants also attract butterflies and songbirds, so you'll have the pleasure of watching these beautiful visitors.

"Rich Grasslands for Missouri Landowners" is a guide to prairie plantings. The 36-page booklet covers choosing prairie plants for your site, site preparation, seeding methods and prairie maintenance. It even has color photos to help you identify plants already growing on your land. One chapter addresses the needs of working farms, with advice about haying, rotational grazing, forage capacity and other practical considerations.

To order a copy, write to:

Private Land Services, Missouri Department of Conservation P.O. Box 180 Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Permits Get a Facelift

Missouri hunting and fishing permits have a new look and feel in response to preferences expressed by hunters and anglers.

The new permits are more substantial than those issued since the computerized permit printing system went into effect in 1996. Although they were durable, the old permits were flimsy, and the printing sometimes was hard to read. Furthermore, the old permits didn't come with built-in tags for deer and turkey as had previous generations of permits. This year's permits are printed on thicker paper and include detachable tags for deer and turkeys.

The built-in tags make poaching more difficult. However, the new tags may seem unusually bulky to people who don't hunt deer. To reduce permit bulk, peel off the backing and fold the permit back on itself. Additional folding makes permits small enough to fit in the protective envelopes available at permit vendors. DON'T peel and stick deer or turkey permits, as this would make it impossible to attach the built-in tags after taking your game.

Young Hunters Get Their Own Deer Days

Young hunters will have the deer woods all to themselves for a couple of days this fall during a new, youth-only portion of the firearms deer season.

The Conservation Commission has set aside Oct. 27 and 28 for deer hunting by Missouri residents ages 15 and younger. The bag limit is one deer, total, for the two youth-only days.

Full details of the youth-only portion of the firearms season are listed in the "2001 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information" booklet, available wherever permits are sold.

Teal Season Sept. 8-23; Dove Season to be Continuous

Missouri hunters will have a 16-day teal season and a continuous, 70-day dove season with a smaller bag limit this year.

Teal season, subject to final federal approval, will run from Sept. 8 through 23, with daily and possession limits of four and eight, respectively. Dove season will run from Sept. 1 through Nov. 9, with daily and possession limits of 12 and 24.

In 1999, the Conservation Commission split the 60-day dove season into September and November segments, attempting to provide more hunting opportunity. The split dove season, however, got mixed reviews from hunters. Returning to a continuous 70-day season with a 12-bird bag limit accommodates those who want to hunt doves during October and those who want to hunt in early November. Data from managed dove hunting areas show that few hunters will be affected by the bag limit reduction of 15 to 12 doves.

Reducing the bag limit from 15 last year to 12 this year allows Missouri hunters a 70-day season, extending dove hunting into the November quail season.

Other 2001 early migratory bird hunting seasons are:

  • Sora and Virginia Rails: Sept. 1 through Nov. 9 (70 days); daily and possession limits-25.
  • Common Snipe: Sept. 1 through Dec. 16 (107 days); limits-eight daily, 16 in possession.
  • American Woodcock: Oct. 15 through Nov. 28 (45 days); limits-three daily, six in possession.

Trappers' Rendezvous Set for September 14-16

Trappers of all backgrounds will gather Sept. 14-16 for their annual rendezvous at the Riverfront Campground. This year's site is 12 miles west of Lebanon on Highway 64.

The event gives novices and old hands a chance to rub elbows with some of the state's most accomplished trappers and predator callers. It's also a chance to compare notes about past and coming seasons and see displays and demonstrations of the latest trapping equipment and supplies. Many who attend bring their whole families. For more information, contact the Riverfront Campground at (417) 588-3386.