Vantage Point

Community Conservation at Work

The Missouri Department of Conservation engages property owners, conservation groups and other government agencies to achieve its mission of serving fish, forests, wildlife and people. Partnership resources make larger, more expensive projects possible. They also enable people, organizations, and communities of all sizes to become personally involved in conservation.

Missouri's communities are among our most valuable and helpful partners. Since 1980, the Community Assistance Program has created close-to-home fishing and outdoor recreational opportunities for over 100 local partners. The Department manages the fish populations in community lakes and provides money to build public roads, parking lots, boat ramps and accesses to lakes, rivers and streams.

A great example is Riverfront Access on the beautiful Current River in my Missouri hometown, Van Buren. The Current River is a major recreational attraction in the Missouri Ozarks. For decades, the site where an old bridge was torn down has served as a focal point for community access to the river. As a little boy, I learned to swim in this same spot and started a life-long love of the Current River.

Van Buren community leaders needed help to provide quality access to this special Ozark stream and the resulting partnership is impressive. Private citizens worked with officials at the local, county, state and federal level to create this new destination on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Funds from federal excise taxes, the Conservation Commission and local sources allowed the partners to design and construct a large, multi-purpose river access with a boat ramp, canoe launch, picnic shelter, toilet facilities, ample parking and swimming areas. The project took about two years to complete at a cost of $360,428 and now serves as an attractive spot for many community activities.

Another great opportunity to provide community conservation is in Lewis County at LaBelle Lake. With the support of the region's State Representative and Senator, the Department moved to keep the popular 112-acre fishing area in public ownership. In addition to managing fish populations, the Department cooperatively maintains diverse hunting opportunities, a boat ramp and a picnic area with a pavilion. It's a pleasure to see public property providing value to so many citizens in diverse ways.

Today, planning and design are underway for other community assistance projects that will benefit even more Missouri towns. Community conservation is a shared responsibility whose future depends upon a mutual commitment to care for our natural resources.

Eighty-seven percent of all Missourians say they wish they had more time to enjoy nature. Bringing opportunities closer to home is one way your Department of Conservation strives to make our world greener, cleaner and more fun.

John D. Hoskins, Director