News and Almanac

Natural diversity returning to Ozarks

If botanists were trained in public relations, the brilliant yellow wildflower known to scientists as Helenium virginicum would have a more descriptive common name than Virginia sneezeweed.This particular plant once was thought to exist only in Virginia until it turned up on private land in Missouri.

The Show-Me State's sneezeweed population is not currently threatened.To make sure it stays safe, the Conservation Department is trying to establish the plant on suitable habitat at Tingler Prairie Natural Area in Howell County. So far, the plant is thriving there.This population on a permanently protected area could provide planting stock for additional restoration work on other areas.

Tingler Prairie is a natural place for many other unusual things, such as several species of orchids and prairie flowers and grasses. Sinkhole ponds harbor buttonbush, water hyssop, cardinal flower, Michigan lily, blue flag and showy white swamp hibiscus.In all, the area supports nearly 300 plant species and abundant wildlife.

A mowed trail provides access throughout the area.To visit Tingler Prairie, take Highway 17 six miles south from U.S. Highway 63 at West Plains.Take County Road 9100 west to County Road 8110 and then go south 1/4 mile to the parking lot on the left.

Ballwin Youth Wins Arbor Day poster contest

Michelle Marchiony, a fifth-grade student at Holy Infant School in Ballwin, is the Missouri state winner in the 2004 Arbor Day National Poster Contest. She received a $50 savings bond from Forest ReLeaf of Missouri and a framed certificate. Her teacher, Theresa Walker, received a Trees Are Terrific Curriculum Kit, and the Conservation Department planted a commemorative tree on the school grounds. Marchiony's poster will go on to the national competition.

Judges from the Missouri Community Forestry Council, the Missouri Parks & Recreation Association, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri and the Conservation Department picked Marchiony's entry from a field of more than 2, 000 entries from fifth-graders from 67 schools.The contest, sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota Motor Corp., asked students to create a poster reflecting the theme "Trees are terrific. . .in cities and towns!"

Visit the Arbor Day Foundation's website for more information about the contest, for online learning opportunities or to request educational materials.

Venison donations top 88 tons

Missouri hunters donated 88.7 tons of venison to the needy last year.The massive contribution was made possible by strong support from Missouri businesses.

The donations came through the Share the Harvest program. Share the Harvest takes teamwork. Local sponsoring organizations, such as a conservation groups or civic clubs, partner with meat processors and food banks to make the program work. Sometimes local businesses contribute cash to pay for processing.The Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) administers the program.

Last year an anonymous corporate donor gave Share the Harvest two refrigerator trucks worth approximately $100, 000. Bass Pro Shops, Shelter Insurance, the Safari Club International and the Conservation Department all put up money to defray meat processing costs and encourage more donations. Donating venison costs hunters nothing in several local Share the Harvest programs.

The Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet includes a list of Share the Harvest programs statewide. For more information about Share the Harvest, visit their website or contact the CFM at (573) 634-2322, <mofed@socket.net>.

DNR OFFERS BIG-RIVER WORKSHOPS

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering workshops to help participants understand how the Missouri and Mississippi river watersheds work and explore the rivers' many uses, from drinking water and fishing to conduits for waste water. Also included will be training on how to get involved in river conservation and boat trips to see river-based activities firsthand. Workshops will take place June 11-12 in Columbia (college credit available) and Oct. 16 in Kansas City.To register for a workshop or for more information, contact Bryan Hopkins at (800) 361-4827 or (573) 751-3443 or visit online.

Burr Oak Woods to host BioBlitz

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area will host the third "BioBlitz" June 11-12. During the event, naturalists will converge on the 1, 000-acre area to conduct an intensive biological inventory.

This year's BioBlitz is sponsored by the Conservation Department and Kansas City WildLands. Participants will use technology ranging from butterfly nets to bat-detecting sonar to document as many plant and animal species as possible in 24 hours.The wide variety of habitats found on this year's site, including streams, ponds, prairies, savannas and glades, promise to produce a large number of species.

The public will get to view specimens gathered during the event at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center from 1 to 4 p.m.June 12.Visitors also can visit educational displays and ask questions of experts in many fields of biology. Youth naturalists will conduct their own "Mini-Blitz." Environmental educators are encouraged to participate in this event.

More information is available online at, by phone at (816) 561-1061, ext. 116, or by e-mailing <linda@bridgingthegap.org&gt;.

TRAPPERS TO MEET IN COLUMBIA

The National Trappers Association Convention will take place at the Columbia Fairgrounds Aug. 12-15.The event features hundreds of vendors selling everything from tanned furs to outdoor collectibles and all kinds of hunting and fishing equipment.

Admission is $10.This includes hourly trapping and skinning demonstrations, seminars on mushroom hunting, photography and other outdoor skills and family activities, such as youth and adult trap-setting contests. Furs, collectible knives and outdoor equipment of every description go on the auction block Friday night. For more information, contact Chris Bezio, <CBEZIO@msn.com>.

Hunting, fishing privileges extended for military personnel sent out of state

Military personnel who purchased Missouri hunting, fishing or trapping permits and then were mobilized and deployed outside the state can get replacement permits free of charge.The Conservation Commission decided in April that military personnel are sacrificing enough without losing privileges they already paid for.The Conservation Department will issue replacement permits to military personnel with documentation of their deployment.

Midwinter count finds 2, 545 bald eagles

Warm weather and an abundance of waterfowl contributed to a strong showing during the midwinter eagle survey coordinated by the Missouri Department of Conservation Jan. 4-9.This year's survey turned up 2, 545 wintering bald eagles. That is 331 more than last year and 139 fewer than in 2002.This year's number is well within the normal range.

Nearly 170 Conservation Department employees took part in the 2004 midwinter eagle survey. Besides the bald eagles, they counted one golden eagle, 466, 932 snow geese, 128, 246 Canada geese, 641, 185 ducks, 17 trumpeter swans and 12 swans of undetermined species.

MAD about MUSHROOMS?

Lots of Missourians comb the woods for morel mushrooms each spring. A few indulge a taste for puffball mushrooms in the fall. But for sheer mushroom madness, you have to join the Missouri Mycological Society (MOMS).The group's fascination with fungus spans the entire year and leads to some of the most creative events in the nature-loving world.

For example, in a month not normally associated with mushroom hunting, 25 fungus fanciers gathered at the St. Louis Art Museum in January for the group's Mushroom Art Foray.They spent several hours hunting for mushrooms in paintings, sculptures and other works of art.

In February, the group held its annual winter luncheon, dining on such fungus-based delicacies as venison with morels, chicken-of-the-woods and bacon spring rolls, fettuccini with black trumpets and sticky rice mushroom medley.

When the weather warms, MOMS members are in the woods hunting mushrooms almost every weekend."Morel Madness, ""Sweat 'an Chanterelles, " a shiitake farm foray and much more are on the annual agenda.The events bring together neophytes, serious mushroomers and professional mycologists in a relaxed atmosphere.

New mushroom enthusiasts can get an introduction to the sport of mushroom hunting at four upcoming "Beginning Mushrooms" events. For more information, contact MOMS President Maxine Stone, (314) 963-0280, <VeryMaxine@aol.com>.

Turkey Federation honors Eldo Meyer

Eldo Meyer of Gerald is one of five citizen conservationists nationwide to receive the 2004 Roger Latham Service Award from the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). Meyer received the award at the NWTF's annual convention in Columbus, Ohio, in February.The Latham Award recognizes significant contributions by citizen conservationists.

Meyer was the first president of the Four Rivers Chapter of the NWTF and has served as state chapter president.As current chairman of the state chapter, he has worked with the Conservation Department to develop programs to stop turkey poaching.He also was instrumental in creating programs to recognize outstanding efforts by conservation agents and vocational agriculture teachers whose work benefits wild turkey conservation.

The NWTF is a 500, 000-member nonprofit organization with members in all 50 states and 12 foreign countries.It supports turkey hunting and scientific wildlife management on public, private and corporate lands.For more information, visit <www.nwtf.org>.

MDC's second director served with national distinction

William E. Towell, the Conservation Department's second director, died May 2 at his home in Southern Pines, N.C. He was 88.

A native of St.James, Towell worked for the Conservation Department for 29 years.He served as a forester headquartered in Sullivan, a farm forester out of Kirksville and senior forester in Jefferson City, before leading the agency from 1957 through 1967.

In his Conservation Department history, "The First 50 Years, " the late Jim Keefe wrote that Towell "was proudest of welding the Department together administratively, of getting it together in its own headquarters, of simplifying regulations and emphasizing the acquisition of public lands for recreation, 'while never, at any time yielding on the Commission's constitutional authority.'"

During his career, Towell served as president of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) and the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and as chairman of the Boy Scouts of America Conservation Committee and the Natural Resources Council of America. Among his many honors were the National Wildlife Federation Conservationist of the Year Award (1976) and the SAF Sir William Schlich Medal (1975).

MU farm to offer quail MANAGEMENT DEMOS

Missourians interested in bringing the bobwhite quail back to their farms soon will be able to see the latest quail management strategies at work at the University of Missouri's Bradford Research and Extension Center east of Columbia.The University recently announced a demonstration program that will show farmers how to meet the habitat needs of quail in a modern agriculture system without reducing profits. Demonstrations will include developing quail-friendly fence rows, renovating pastures to promote quail habitat and creating food plots and crop field borders that work for quail. For a tour of the quail habitat demonstration, contact Tim Reinbott, (573) 884-7945, <ReinbottT@missouri.edu>.

2003 a banner year for duck hunters

Large waterfowl populations and favorable weather combined to make last year's duck season the best on record at wetland areas managed by the Conservation Department.

The total harvest for the Conservation Department's 17 managed wetland areas was 77, 438 ducks, the largest on record.The next-best year since the Conservation Department began keeping records 30 years ago was 2001, when hunters bagged 65, 733.This year's average bag was 1.943 ducks per hunt.The only year Missouri hunters topped that was 2000, when they averaged 2.088 birds per hunt.

Otter Slough Conservation Area (CA) led state-managed areas with a harvest of 12, 528 and an average of 2.7 ducks per hunt. Grand Pass CA was second, with a harvest of 11, 386 and a per-trip average of 2.5 ducks. Four Rivers CA came in third with 9, 900 and 2.1 ducks per trip. Other area harvests included: Duck Creek CA, 7, 375 and 1.5/trip; Fountain Grove CA, 6, 394 and 1.8/trip; Schell-Osage CA, 5, 901 and 2/trip; Eagle Bluffs CA, 5, 758 and 2.1/ trip;Ten-Mile Pond CA, 3, 944 and 1.9/ trip, and Ted Shanks CA, 3, 497 and 1/trip.

The number of ducks taken by hunters at Conservation Department wetland areas normally makes up about one-sixth of the statewide harvest total.

JOURNALING WITH LEWIS & CLARK

Journaling with Lewis & Clark: A Discovery of Outdoor Missouri is a new adventure booklet available from the Missouri Department of Conservation to "scratch the itch" of history buffs. If you are ready to explore Missouri's outdoors in the spirit of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the members of the Corps of Discovery, pick one up at any of the conservation education sites listed below.

"Discovery" is when you see something for the first time By going to the Conservation Department's interpretive and educational centers, you make discoveries and record them in this journal.Note your discoveries in the booklet.

Take your Journaling with Lewis & Clark booklet with you and travel to the other Conservation Department education centers. On the way, you will have many opportunities to create your own adventure and discover the wild places and wildlife Lewis and Clark saw.At each education center, visit the designated "Journal Stop" and record your entry.When you have finished, bring your booklet to the front desk and we will stamp your journal and give you a unique lapel pin to commemorate your visit.

The lapel pins depict the animals that Lewis & Clark encountered along their journey through Missouri. Discoverers who collect all eight pins can register for a grand prize drawing.

Journaling with Lewis & Clark: A Discovery of Outdoor Missouri will be available until May 31, 2005 only at the Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center in Blue Springs, Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in St. Louis, the Discovery Center in Kansas City, Lost Valley Hatchery in Warsaw, Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood, Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City, Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Branson and Springfield Conservation Nature Center.

Order Lewis & Clark memorabilia now

It's not too late to get lasting reminders of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, but don't wait too long.The Nature Shop, (877) 521-8632) has limited quantities of two commemorative items. One is a silver dollar-size coin ($4) bearing the crossed peace pipes design that appeared on medallions the Corps of Discovery presented to Indian chiefs during the expedition. The other is a pair of video segments about the Corps of Discovery's passage through Missouri.The videos are available on two VHS tapes ($15) or a single DVD ($10).

AGENT NOTEBOOK

Conservation Department areas and accesses get quite a bit of use during the summer months. People use these public areas in many ways. Hunting, fishing, boating, camping, hiking, photography and nature watching are all popular on Department areas, along with many other outdoor activities.

To provide users with the potential to have a pleasant outdoor experience, we have regulations on these areas that may hinder someone else's opportunity to have a good time.

For example, our areas are closed from 10 p.m.to 4 a.m. in order to keep people from having parties and engaging in other activities inappropriate for public conservation areas.The areas, however, can be used during the closed period for specifically authorized outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, hunting, trapping, boat launching and boat landing.

General regulations for Conservation Department areas can be found in Chapter 11 of the Wildlife Code under the heading "Special Regulations for Department Areas." Each area or access may also have its own set of regulations, governing, for example, size and bag limits of fish, camping restrictions or authorized hunting methods. These regulations, along with other area information, are usually posted on bulletin boards near area or facility parking lots.

Take a few minutes when entering a Conservation Department area or access to learn the rules. By following the rules and using common sense and courtesy, our public areas can accommodate a variety of people with a variety of outdoor interests. Please use and enjoy these areas responsibly. --Bob Burgess