The tax amendment redefined conservation to benefit all the residents of the state. Hunters and anglers historically paid for most department programs by purchasing permits and paying excise taxes on sporting equipment. Following the passage of the sales tax amendment, however, all Missourians became shareholders in conservation.
The tax amendment before the voters was not so much a request for funds, as it was a plea for the means to proceed with a long-term conservation plan. The plan, known as the "Design for Conservation," detailed programs that would be instituted, services that would offered, facilities that would be built and the types of lands that would be acquired for public use.
Many of the elements included in the plan came directly from you-or from the generation that preceded you-via public meetings, surveys and personal contacts. Design for Conservation is your vision for Missouri's conservation future.
"Design," as it came to be called, was revolutionary in the sense that it expanded traditional concepts of conservation to include protection of endangered species and habitats. It called for more educational programs, for more emphasis on outdoor ethics and for increased opportunities for a vast array of outdoor recreation.
Design for Conservation was broadly divided into three major sections: Conservation Lands, Public Services and Management and Research. Each section contained specific categories that included proposals for action. When conservationists in Missouri asked voters to approve the sales tax amendment, those proposals became promises.
The promises of the Design for Conservation have guided Conservation Department efforts for 25 years. This special issue details how the Conservation Department has worked to keep its promises.
The examples provided in this issue, prove beyond argument that Missouri's hunters, anglers, hikers, wildlife watchers and nature photographers have more opportunities for recreation on public land. They show that we're working to instill conservation principles in an ever-increasing number of Missourians-children and adults. They reveal how our research has vastly improved the management of wildlife and wildlife habitat. They chronicle our continuing success in forming conservation partnerships with private landowners. They detail the number of species we protect, the fish we stock, the seedlings we provide.
Although the figures document how the Conservation Department has kept-and is keeping-its promises to the people of the state, we admit the impossibility of calculating all the benefits of Design for Conservation. We may, for example, say we stocked so many millions or billions of fish, but how could anyone count the increased reproduction of fish whose spawning habitat was improved as a result of our working with private landowners to reduce the amount of sediment that flows into streams?
The particular achievements made possible by Design for Conservation are astonishing. Perhaps even more amazing is how, even after 25 years, Design continues to serve as a guiding philosophy for conservation in Missouri. The people of Missouri had a vision of conservation, then they made the vision a reality.