Designing The Future Of Conservation

Thanks to the plan, we now have more forests, more wildlife and more opportunities for outdoor recreation. Within these pages we've only been able to touch on a small portion of the good work performed by many hundreds of Conservation Department employees over a quarter of a century. The benefits to the people of Missouri as a result of Design for Conservation are nearly infinite.

Perhaps the most important achievement of Design is that it kept "urban" and "natural" from becoming opposites. Design directed the Conservation Department to provide city residents, who represent the majority of Missourians, with numerous links to nature in the form of programs, lands and recreational opportunities.

Thanks to their many urban lakes, to conservation nature centers, to the purchases of nearby lands and to educational programs targeting city schools, Missouri's urban residents have closer ties to the outdoors than urban residents in other states.

Design for Conservation is a document, but it is also a philosophy-our philosophy. The people of Missouri voted to implement Design for Conservation during a period of heightened environmental awareness. During the 1970s, the time of the first Earth Days, people began to recognize the importance of the natural world, with its myriad creatures and interconnections, to the quality of their lives.

The spirit that brought about Design for Conservation lives on today. Missourians continue to assert their right to clean air and water. They recycle trash; they conserve natural resources. They seek out places where they can reconnect with nature.

More people than ever are becoming directly involved in conservation. The 35,000 members of Missouri's Stream Teams pick up litter, plant streamside trees, and regularly track stream temperature, flow and quality. Missouri's Forestkeepers monitor the health of our state's forests. Volunteers at nature centers spend innumerable hours sharing nature with other Missourians.

Another good sign for the future of conservation in Missouri is the increasing number of landowners who are joining forces with the Conservation Department to improve wildlife habitat on their property. More and more people are willing to do whatever they can to maintain Missouri's biological richness and variety.

Design for Conservation has carried us far. As a working plan, it has been completed. In fact, the Conservation Department has developed and implemented several strategic plans since Design. The succeeding plans reflected newer technologies and abilities and a changing world that couldn't have been predicted 25 years ago.

Design for Conservation, however, will never be outdated or forgotten. Although composed long ago, its principles are timeless and enduring. Design created and sustains a culture of conservation in Missouri, and for that we can thank the people of Missouri, who believe in the importance of carrying out a Design for Conservation.