MoDOT was very pleased to see the News and Almanac article on our Region Wetland Mitigation Bank in your January issue. MoDOT strives to be a good steward of the environment and to provide the state of Missouri with an environmentally responsible transportation system. Thank you for delivering this story to your readership. We hope to continue in joint projects with the Conservation Department.
David B. Nichols, MoDOT
Regarding cats purring On The Back Page of Outside In: "larynx" is misspelled "larnyx." The misspelling is usually because people pronounce it wrong. Try LAIR-INKS not LAIR-NICKS.
Millie Hill Chesterfield
Just a pat on the back to all responsible for the Outside In children's section in the February 2003 issue. I'm 70, and these sections aren't designed for my age group (just approaching second childhood), but it was fascinating, even to me. I can't wait to share it with some of our friends as "must reads" for their children (and our own grandchildren). Hats off to whoever designed and conceived this offering. Our sincere thanks. Yours has always been a good publication. This makes it great!
Danny and Barbara Meyer, St. Louis
"Ancient Wood Uncovered" is an interesting article, but it could lead readers to an unwarranted absolute conclusion regarding how old an uncovered tree is.
Carbon dating depends on assumptions and interpretation of data that may be in error. It therefore is not justified to say, ". . . this tree fell into the stream 12,000 years ago." It would be more accurate, when referring to the supposed ages of buried trees, for the authors to be less specific, by using qualifiers, such as "probably," "possibly," "may have," or "evidence suggests that."
Fine piece on old wood, but I think you are not looking in the right place.
Southeast Missouri ("swomp-east") was a vast swamp until the early 20th century. Huge cypress trees grew there, and cypress is one of, if not the most, rot-resistant woods known.
Moreover, Southeast Missouri was not subjected to the full rigors of the last ice age. I would start looking around Lost Hill, near Kelso. It is miles from the river now, and also miles from the old river bank.
The old oxbows were most probably acidic and anaerobic, just the conditions to preserve wood best. Wells near there produce water with an unbelievably high iron content. Drink from a clean glass, let it dry and it turns rusty! You should be able to run the tree ring study back 70,000 to 80,000 years at least.
Chuck Dohogne, via Internet
Editor's note: The science of carbon dating assumes a range of error in its findings, and even predicts anomalies outside the normal range. Nevertheless, the method provides us with a useful tool for dating items up to about 50,000 years old.
I was eager to read through the education workshops in the February issue, but I believe one of the Conservation Department's best educational programs is missing from the list.
For years now, I have been attending the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman programs. Before attending, I had not done anything truly outdoors. At the first BOW I learned about birdwatching, archery and river ecology. I never thought I'd swim in water that wasn't chlorinated but, with a lot of encouragement, I got into the stream at my first BOW.
In subsequent BOWs, I learned, among other things, how to train my dogs, how to climb, first aid and survival techniques, how to cook over a campfire and how to use a compass. I've eaten things I never thought I would: venison, quail and crayfish, just to name a few.
I used to think that an outdoors activity was mowing the grass. Thanks to your BOW and Beyond BOW programs, I think I've come a long way.
Madonna Lowell, Crestwood
Editor's note: Education workshops are designed to meet the needs of teachers looking for new ways to teach state standards, seeking field tested, hands-on classroom activities or working to advance their careers. Many provide college credit. The BOW and Beyond BOW programs help women acquire outdoor experience and skills. The programs are being redesigned during 2003. For information about BOW, write Becoming an Outdoors woman, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.
Thanks for the announcement in the January issue concerning the United Bowhunters of Missouri festival. Publicity always helps us get new members.
However, the picture accompanying the announcement was misleading. It shows a man hunting with a modern compound bow. The UBM is all about traditional archery. The picture would have better served us if it had shown someone using a recurve or longbow.
Darren Haverstick, Fair Grove
I wanted to write and tell you that my husband, Jimmy, and I have put the information you provide in your magazine to good use. I've become a birdwatcher and wildlife observer for the past five years, especially since we've moved from the inner-city (Kansas City) to southwestern Missouri (Carl Junction) and now live in the country.
Jimmy has been a sworn city-slicker, but I think the country bug has really hit him hard. I catch him grabbing the binoculars more times than he'd like to admit to catch a glimpse of squirrel antics or the young birds learning to fly.
Carole Morton, Carl Junction
Ask the Ombudsman
Q: Earlier this winter I noticed bluebirds around my bluebird house. Isn't that too early for them?
image of ombudsmanA: Not all bluebirds migrate. Those that hang around during winter seek out shelter during the cold snaps and bluebird houses offer them some protection from the elements. It wouldn't be unusual to see four or five birds using the same nest box.
Mourning doves and robins are two other birds we normally think of as spending winter in the south, but some of them remain in Missouri through winter. Large numbers of them congregate in cedar groves and on the leeward side of high ground and bluffs to beat the cold.
Now is a good time to inspect and clean bluebird nest boxes. Go to the the Conservation Department's web site for more information on bluebirds. Use the search window on the home page and enter "doves" or "robins" as a keyword to learn more about those species.
Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 751-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.