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Agreement simplifies Missouri River fishing regulations

Starting Jan 1, anglers who ply the Missouri River between Kansas and Missouri will be able to fish on more of the Missouri River without buying a nonresident fishing permit.

The additional opportunity will be provided by a new reciprocal agreement signed by the two states' wildlife management agencies. The agreement between the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks allows anglers licensed by either state to fish anywhere on the river between the two states, including both banks and the backwaters on either side of the river. Anglers must abide by the fishing regulations of the state in which they are fishing, regardless of where they bought their permits. They must abide by the more restrictive of the two states' regulations when fishing in the other state's waters.

Details about these and other general fishing regulations will be published in the 2003 Summary of Fishing Regulations, available in December wherever fishing permits are sold.

Conservation Commission delays some permit fee increases

Some of the hunting and fishing permit fees increases originally scheduled for next year won't go into effect until 2004.

At its May meeting, the Conservation Commission approved permit fee increases for most hunting and fishing permits. The increases were scheduled to go into effect March 1, 2003. The Commission voted to delay the effective date of the following permit price changes until March 1, 2004:

PERMIT CURRENT FEE FEE EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 2004
Resident Fishing Permit $11 $12
Resident Small Game Hunting Permit $9 $10

Resident Turkey Hunting Permits

   
Spring Season Permit $15 $17
Fall Season Permit $11 $13
Youth Deer and Turkey Hunting Permit $15 $17
Daily Fishing Permit $5.50 $5
Daily Small Game Hunting Permit $10 $11

The following permit fee increases, will go into effect March 1, 2003, as originally approved:

PERMIT CURRENT FEE FEE EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 2003
Resident Firearms Any-Deer Hunting Permit $15 $17
Resident Managed Deer Hunting Permit $15 $17
Resident Archer's Hunting Permit $17 $19

The increases are the first since 1999. In approving the increases, the Commission cited increased operating costs and lower-than-expected revenues as a result of the continuing economic downturn. The Conservation Federation of Missouri, the state's largest citizen conservation organization, expressed support for the increases in May.

Even with the increases, Missouri's resident hunting and fishing permit fees will be lower than those of most other states. Minnesota charges residents $18 for an annual fishing permit. The fee is $19 in Texas, $20 in New Hampshire and $30.45 in California. Lower-priced fishing permits are available in Louisiana ($9.50 plus $5.50 for a saltwater fishing permit) and North Dakota ($11).

Resident small-game hunting permits sell for $7 in North Dakota, $11 in Virginia, $14 in Wisconsin, $15 in Louisiana, $17 in Minnesota, $19 in Texas and $31 in New Hampshire and California.

Rare plant solution is one for the log book

It's considered consummate conservation when you can save both rare plants and money. Workers at Duck Creek Conservation Area did just that when repairing a levee on the area's Pool 1.

The project was challenging because logs floating near the levee harbored two plants of conservation concern, swamp loosestrife (Decodon verticillatus) and marsh St. John's wort (Triadenum tubulosum).

The logs were impeding levee maintenance, and initial plans were to fish the logs out of the water and haul them away. However, when their importance was recognized, construction crews instead pushed the logs away from the construction site and anchored them with posts driven into the bottom.

Not only did this save the logs and plants, it was less expensive than the original plan.

Calling all tree planters!

The Conservation Department loves to hear about people who plant trees. To recognize outstanding tree planting efforts, the Department offers the Missouri Treescape Award program.

The deadline for the 2003 Missouri Treescape Award program is Dec. 1.

The annual award competition recognizes tree-planting projects that enhance Missouri's urban forests. The Conservation Department issues seven treescape awards and five citations of merit in 12 categories, based on the type and size of institution, business or organization competing. Entrants may compete in the commercial and industrial, institutional, state and county government, residential, elementary school, secondary school, volunteer group or municipality categories.

All planting projects must be completed before entrants submit their award applications. Only projects involving trees that have been planted two growing seasons or less are eligible. Conservation Department officials inspect each project and select winners based on projects' overall contribution to the community, planning and conception, number of trees planted, size of trees used and quality of planting and aftercare.

All entrants must complete application forms available from Conservation Department regional offices or downloaded from the Conservation Department web site. Use the keyword "treescape" to access information at <www.missouriconservation.org>.

Applications must include drawings or sketches of the planting project, a list of tree species used and a city, highway or county map marking the project location. Applications should be submitted to: Missouri Treescape Award Coordinator, c/o Forestry Division Administrator, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Love a stream? Write a tribute and win $1000!

Have you told your favorite stream how much you love it lately? The Little Brushy Stream Team wants Missourians to express their appreciation for their creeks and rivers on paper. Entering your essay, poem or love letter could net you a prize.

First-, second- and third-place prizes will be awarded for the best entries in each of the state's 20 watersheds - a total of 60 prizes. First prizes will be Hydro-Sport waterproof binoculars. Second-place winners will receive copies of Missouri's Conservation Atlas. Third prizes will be waterproof cameras. The entry judged best overall will earn the author $1,000.

Entries can be any length, as long as they are legible. Entries are limited to one per person. Each entry must be accompanied by the author's name, address and phone number. Entries submitted by entrants under 18 years of age must include the signature of a parent or guardian giving permission to enter.

Entries must be postmarked no later than Dec. 31. All entries become the property of the sponsors. Send entries to, or request more information from, the Little Brushy Stream Team, Rt. 1, Box 120T, Black, MO 63625.

Wish friends happy holidays naturally

The Conservation Department's Nature Shop has a limited supply of cards for Missourians who want to wish friends and family a happy holiday season naturally.

The cards feature a painting by renowned wildlife artist Mark Raithel. In the painting, Raithel recreates the Conservation Department logo, with a largemouth bass, raccoon and oak leaf, in a Christmas motif of evergreen boughs and red bows.

The cards come in boxes of 12. They sell for $8, plus sales tax and, on mail orders, shipping. They can be purchased at conservation nature centers, online, or by calling toll-free (877) 521-8632. Buy early, because supplies are limited.

Deer parts are litter, too

How you handle your deer carcass affects public perceptions about hunting and hunters. It also could have profound effects on the health of Missouri's deer herd.

Last year, improper disposal of deer carcasses by workers with the Missouri Department of Transportation made headlines statewide. The incident also raised awareness of serious a problem careless disposal of discarded deer carcasses could cause for wild deer.

Missouri's 2001-2002 deer harvest topped 230,000 animals. Many of those deer carcasses went to commercial meat processors who are set up to dispose of bones, hooves, heads, hides and other offal. However, many hunters process their own venison. It's just as important for them to dispose of deer waste properly, even though they may not have a dumpster to put it in. All left-over parts should be double bagged and sent to approved landfills, the same as other garbage.

Steve Wilson to oversee MDC administrative matters

Stephen J. Wilson, 48, has been chosen to lead the Conservation Department's administrative and support divisions.

Wilson, a third-generation conservationist whose career has included media and administrative jobs in the private and public sectors, took over Oct. 1 as the Conservation Department's Deputy Director for Administration. He will supervise the Department's Outreach and Education, Administrative Services and Human Resources divisions. His family has deep roots in conservation. Both his father and his paternal grandfather were state conservation officers in New York.

Wilson holds a bachelor's degree in physical education and education from Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y. He began his career in 1976 as a media and training specialist with the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Washington, D.C. He came to work for the Conservation Department in 1979 as an outdoor skills specialist in the Education Division and later worked in the Protection Division's outdoor skills program.

Wilson left the Department in 1994 to accept the position of city administrator for Jackson, Missouri. He returned to the Conservation Department in 2001 as protection regional supervisor in the Department's West Central Region, headquartered in Clinton.

"Steve has the right combination of conservation knowledge, leadership skills, administrative experience and work ethic," said Conservation Department Director John Hoskins. "He has a record of high credibility and integrity throughout his public service career. Steve is a team builder with the professional ability and personality to serve this Department and the Commission in excellent fashion."

Wilson also has been active in Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, gun dog field trials and the Cape Girardeau County Gun Club. He and Marci, his wife of 25 years, have two sons, Travis and Michael. Both sons are students at the University of Missouri-Columbia. It appears the Wilson family's conservation tradition will be carried on to a fourth generation. Michael is exploring a career in wildlife law enforcement.

Habitat Hint: Teaching old fields new tricks

Nearly every farm has some land that is unsuitable for cultivation, grazing or haying due to steep slopes, soil type, wetness or size. With proper management, these idle areas can be extremely productive for wildlife.

You can, for example, replace fescue grass with more productive, native warm-season grasses in an abandoned hay field. You might disc a small portion of old fields to provide bare ground, an important habitat component for quail and doves. Planting clover and Korean lespedeza on other patches enhances habitat by adding food to the mix.

Burning or mowing, building brush piles and leaving clumps of tree sprouts and other woody vegetation also make old fields more wildlife friendly.

These and other management strategies are outlined in a chapter titled "Idle Area Management" in the Conservation Department booklet Wildlife Management for Missouri Landowners. To obtain a copy, write to Distribution Center, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102-0180.

Muzzleloader maker still looking for defective rifles

If you own an in-line muzzle-loading rifle made by Connecticut Valley Arms in 1995 or 1996, you should contact the company immediately for a replacement. The rifles, which have serial numbers ending in 95 or 96, have a serious condition that can cause severe injury even if the rifles are used correctly.

Blackpowder Products, Inc. (BPI) bought CVA's name and assets in 1999. The new owners of CVA didn't assume any liability, but are following through on the voluntary recall that begun by the previous owner. So far, 90 percent of the rifles have been returned for barrel replacement. BPI wants to find the other 10 percent.

In addition to replacing rifle barrels, BPI will cover all shipping charges that owners incur in returning defective rifles. If you own a CVA in-line muzzleloader with a 95 or 96 serial number, you can get more information by calling 770/449-4687 between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. weekdays. If you owned a rifle that might be covered under the recall program but have sold or given it to someone else, BPI asks that you contact the gun's new owner and urge its return to the manufacturer.

Commissioner challenges state audit findings

A recent state audit of the Conservation Department challenged the agency's fiscal management and oversight of partnerships with not-for profit organizations. After several news articles criticized Department decision-making, the Conservation Commission felt the need to respond to inaccuracies in the report.

In a letter to the editor, Commission Chairman Howard Wood wrote, "The auditor's mission to provide 'accurate and timely performance and financial audits' has failed in the audit at hand."

He said the Conservation Commission welcomes constructive criticism and will implement all reasonable recommended changes, but he added, "When criticism is openly destructive, as in this case, the Commission must publicly respond."Wood challenged the audit on the following points:

  • Land Acquisition - The audit claims the Department spent over $2 billion acquiring 774,000 acres in the last 24 years. In fact, the Department acquired only 448,000 acres, and approximately one-third of all monies were provided by the federal government.
  • Uncontrolled Operating Costs - Auditors infer that department operating costs will soon outpace revenue. For 2002, the Commission actually cut the budget by $5.7 million and reduced operating costs by 1.4 percent. The Commission has worked within its budget since 1937.
  • Kansas City Discovery Center - Auditors determined the center was built with a cost over-run of $4.4 million. Actually, public and private partners expressed interest in creating a larger educational facility. Commissioners agreed and committed another $1.1 million to the redesign. The other partners contributed the final $3.3 million to construct the Center.
  • Expenditures on Canadian Waterfowl Habitat - Auditors criticize the Department for being one of only three states funding nesting habitat for migratory waterfowl through Ducks Unlimited. In fact, 32 states participate in the North American Wetlands Management Plan. Surprisingly, auditors then censure the department for surpassing its goal of restoring duck populations.

"The Commission also serves as a vigilant watchdog of public monies and services," Wood wrote. "Most recently, it delayed permit price increases for many hunting and fishing permits and instituted a process for public requests to use Department lands. Commissioners serve without compensation and contribute vast management experience. Voters established this group in 1936 to permanently remove politics and favoritism from the management of natural resources. During my tenure, I think the Commission and the Department has done everything possible to manage funds responsibly and eliminate waste."

Outdoors communicators' conclave promises big economic boost

When a thousand or so outdoors communicators converge on Missouri next summer, they will bring more than word processors, cameras, fishing rods and binoculars. Their visit will bring millions of dollars worth of business to central Missouri and focus a national spotlight on the state's natural resources for years to come.

The Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) will hold its annual conference in Columbia June 14 through 18, 2003. About 1,000 members and guests are expected to attend. Participants will sample Missouri fishing and natural areas on outings before and after the conference. They also will have a chance to see Missouri's conservation achievements and challenges. The Missouri River will receive special attention because 2003 kicks off the national celebration of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The conference provides an unprecedented opportunity for outdoors-related businesses to promote their goods and services. OWAA conferences typically bring nearly $1 million in direct business to conference-site motels, restaurants and other tourism and service industries. More important, hundreds of the nation's best-known and most prolific outdoors magazine and newspaper writers, editors, photographers, film, video and television producers use the annual event to gather story material. The resulting media coverage amounts to several million dollars worth of free advertising in the first year following the conference alone. This flush of attention continues for several years, eventually topping $50 million in estimated publicity value.

"The conference is a working trip for most of these people," said Missouri freelance writer and former OWAA president Joel Vance. "They come looking for stories, and they leave with notebooks and cameras bulging. Landing an OWAA conference is a huge coup for Columbia, and it's going to be real shot in the arm for the state's economy."

Ste. Genevieve County deer club carrying on a rich tradition

When the crop harvest is complete in the Ste. Genevieve County communities of Zell and Weingarten, talk turns to the upcoming deer season. In the autumn of 1953, families and friends in these two neighboring communities got together and decided to hunt deer as a club. Fifty years later, the Zell/Weingarten Deer Club is still gathering each deer season to share the pleasure of hunting and hunting stories. They also share their venison.

The club started with only a handful of hunters, but now its members number more than 50, and it keeps growing. A few of the original members still hunt, but most charter members just gather to hear the stories of the others' hunts and recall those of days past.

The club, made up of fathers and sons, hunted with little success in the beginning. The club's harvest rate grew along with Missouri's deer herd. The hunting club has now harvested more than 900 deer on land owned by members or leased by the club. In the early years, members were lucky to see a deer, and they harvested what they saw. Today, the club practices quality deer management to thin the deer herd and to improve buck antler growth. Young and old hunt side-by-side. Some hunt hard, and some just like to say they were there. At the end of the season, all the successful hunters divvy out the venison for all members to enjoy the bounty.

So, when you are sitting around the cabin or campfire telling deer hunting stories, think of the Zell/Weingarten Deer Club. You can be sure they will have lots to talk about this season, their 50th.

- Dave Palmer, Vice President, Zell/Weingarten Hunting Club

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