News and Almanac

Forestkeepers share extraordinary tree images online

Tree trunks that look like twining cobras, gnarly knots that look like alien life forms, tree tops that seem to have come from Dr. Seuss books and many other striking images are available for viewing free at the Missouri Forestkeepers’ Web site. The gallery of extraordinary tree images is the result of a friendly competition between Forestkeeper members.

The Conservation Department launched the Forestkeepers program in 1996 to give Missourians the opportunity and knowledge to care for trees, whether they are found in remote forests or urban parks. Members choose their own type and level of involvement, ranging from occasionally checking the health of trees near home to working with trees in their home areas. This wealth of firsthand tree experience brings participants into contact with some of the oddest trees in Missouri. Visit online to see some of the images sent in by members.

Beneficial Blackberries

For saying “I love you,” nothing beats roses. That is just as true for wildlife as it is for your sweetheart. Few plants are more beneficial than the wild cousins of our showy, aromatic domestic roses.

Best-known and best-loved among these hardy and tasty natives is the blackberry. Its succulent fruits sustain wildlife from blue jays to box turtles, not to mention providing the main ingredient of blackberry cobbler.

Blackberry benefits don’t end when the fruits disappear. Dense thickets provide relief from the summer sun and shelter white-throated sparrows, rabbits and other wildlife throughout the winter. Thorny brambles create a fortress against marauding foxes, coyotes, hawks and owls.

One blackberry species native to Missouri, Rubus allegheniensis, is the ancestor of many of today’s cultivated varieties. If you find a patch with particularly juicy wild berries, it probably is another native, Rubus pensilvanicus. The fruits of Missouri’s third common native, Rubus argutus, tend to be seedy and bitter.

If you decide to plant blackberries for your own use, avoid Rubus bifrons and Rubus procerus. These non-natives can be invasive, crowding out native blackberries and other beneficial plants.

The Grow Native! Web site has a list of commercial suppliers of native plants. Click on “Buyer’s Guide” and then “Retail Garden Centers and Nurseries.”

Quail Academy Seeks Cadets, Chaperones

Missouri teens can learn why bobwhite quail numbers are at historic lows and what landowners can do to bring them back at the 2006 MO Quail Academy. Teachers can earn free college credit chaperoning the event. There is no time to waste, however. Applications are due by March 15.

The Academy is an intensive, five-day course that focuses on quail management, biology and hunting. Graduates take home all the know-how needed to jump-start quail restoration efforts in their home communities. Teachers who serve as “covey leaders” take the training along with students and earn two hours of college credit.

The academy is a joint effort of the Missouri Department of Conservation and Quail Unlimited. It is open to high school freshmen and sophomores who have a grade-point average of 2.5 or better. Students also must successfully complete a hunter education course beforehand. The academy, including food and lodging, is free.

Two different sessions are available. The first is June 11 through 16 at Central Methodist University in Fayette. The second is June 18 through 23 at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg.

For more information and application forms, ask a high school guidance counselor, science teacher or vocational agriculture instructor, visit online, or call Quail Unlimited Regional Director Jef Hodges, (660) 885-7057. Successful applicants will be notified by April 15.

West Central QU Chapter leads nation

If the West Central Missouri Chapter of Quail Unlimited (QU) was a cartoon character, it would be Mighty Mouse. For the third year in a row, this tiny group of bobwhite fanatics in Cass County won the National Quail Habitat Award and put every other QU group in the United States to shame.

QU scores all 300 of its chapters by the quail habitat they create. The West Central Missouri Chapter raised only $3,650 last year, a drop in the bucket compared to large urban chapters that haul in nearly $150,000 annually. Yet, the West Central Missouri Chapter was far and away the most productive one in the United States in terms of habitat creation.

How do they achieve those results? Instead of focusing on money, they spend a lot of time knocking on doors. They get to know landowners, learn their needs and ambitions and find ways to help them reach their goals while creating places for quail to live.

Chapter Chairman Tom Lampe said QU put up signs touting participating landowners’ efforts, and before long neighbors were asking how they could get involved.

QU is observing its 25th anniversary in Missouri. The Show-Me State’s first chapter was the third in the nation. To celebrate its silver anniversary here, QU plans a gala event in Kansas City in July. For information about QU, contact Regional Director Jef Hodges, 382 NW Hwy. 18, Clinton, MO 64735, (660) 885-7057 or visit online.

New Quail Unlimited chapter in Mercer County

The Missouri Quail Academy has come full circle with the formation of a new Quail Unlimited chapter by an academy graduate. Keith Beavers, who completed the intensive, week-long training course in 1998, stepped up to be the chairman of the newly founded group.

Thanks to the training he received as a teenager, Beavers understands the habitat changes that have caused the bobwhite quail’s decline. He also knows what can be done to turn the situation around. He said he has noticed an increase in quail numbers over the last couple of years and wants to do something to make sure those birds survive.

Josh Michaelis, another of the group’s organizers, said he likes Quail Unlimited’s ability to bring in matching funds and grants to augment local efforts. He said the Conservation Department’s Quail Habitat Initiative will effectively double the money the new chapter can invest in quail habitat.

Anyone interested in the Mercer County chapter can contact Beavers at (660) 382-5361 or Josh Michaelis at 214/709-6966. For more information about Quail Unlimited visit www.qu.org.

Prize-winning chef offers venison cooking tips

If you don’t like venison, maybe it is because you have never gotten to taste Rodney Carr’s corned venison. The St. Louis hunter is the reigning champion of the Missouri Conservation Agents Association’s Wild Game, Fish and Nature Harvest Cook Off, held at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia each August. He says the key to good venison dishes is slow cooking with plenty of moisture.

His corned-venison recipe starts with a large back strap, cut in half. He soaks the meat in brine made with Morton Tender Quick, using package directions. He turns the meat daily and keeps draining and replacing the brine until it stays clear. This takes five to seven days.

After rinsing the meat, he places it in a deep pot and adds six large carrots, four small red potatoes and four medium onions, all cut into large chunks.

Seasoning consists of two or three sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, a large sprig of thyme and a teaspoon of dry English mustard. He adds enough water to cover the ingredients and slowly brings the water to a boil. Then he simmers the meat for two hours.

Next, he cuts a large head of cabbage into quarters or eighths and arranges the pieces around the meat and other vegetables and simmers for two hours longer. The recipe works with venison roasts, but back straps work best.

View photos of the damage at Johnson Shut-Ins online

Missourians who are curious about damage to Johnson Shut-Ins State Park can see photos of the area on the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Web site.

The park was swamped in December, when AmerenUE’s Upper Taum Sauk Reservoir collapsed, releasing more than a billion gallons of water into the East Fork of the Black River. No one died in the resulting flood, but the torrent swept thousands of trees and countless tons of mud and debris downstream, smothering the park. Raging waters demolished the campground and some buildings and extensively damaged wooden boardwalks and other structures.

The park has been closed to the public while cleanup work takes place due to safety concerns. To let Missourians see the damage and ongoing restoration work, the DNR has created a gallery of dozens of aerial and ground-based photos online.

State officials are coordinating efforts by AmerenUE to clean up impacted areas, including the Black River, which remains muddy since the disaster. Conservation Department workers are taking part in efforts to assess long-term effects on fish, forests and wildlife.

Wheelin’ Sportsmen honors MDC

Officials with national Wheelin’ Sportsmen were so impressed with an event for mobility-impaired hunters at Bois D’Arc Conservation Area in 2004, they named the event best in the nation and honored the Conservation Department with a special award.

The Day at the Range had shotgun, rifle, air-gun and archery shooting, fishing for catfish and bluegill and instruction in Dutch oven cooking, making turkey calls from turkey wing bones and other subjects. All were geared to the special needs of hunters and anglers with physical disabilities.

The event took place at the Andy Dalton Shooting Range & Outdoor Education Center. For more information about the Dalton Range’s facilities and programs, visit online. For information about other Conservation Department shooting ranges and programs, visit online.

Wheelin’ Sportsman is a program of the National Wild Turkey Federation dedicated to providing opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in outdoor activities. For more information, visit online.

Grass pickerel, river redhorse records fall

Missouri has two new pole-line-and-lure fishing records for species that many anglers couldn’t even identify. Will Dougherty, Jr., Mill Spring, caught a 1-pound, 3.7-ounce grass pickerel from a farm pond in Wayne County. The toothy, torpedo-shaped fish measured 17.1 inches from nose to tail. John “Buck” Hennessy, Jefferson City, caught a 9-pound, 10.2-ounce river redhorse sucker from the Osage River near the Cole/Osage county line. Hennessy has the distinction of being the only person who currently holds two Missouri state fishing records. The other is for a 5-pound, 1-ounce sauger, which he also landed from the Osage River with a pole, line and lure.

Duck Zone Workshops

Hunters who want a say in the future structure of waterfowl hunting seasons and zones will get their chance at a series of seven public workshops this month. Federal officials allow states to change zones and split-season options every five years. The Conservation Department is currently considering season structure for the 2006–2010 seasons and wants to know hunters’ preferences. Hunters can express their desires at the following meetings. Details about the meetings are available by calling the numbers listed for each meeting or at online.

  • Columbia, March 13, 7–9 p.m. at the American Legion Post 202, 600 S. Legion Lane (573) 882-8388;
  • Jackson, March 15, 7–9 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 3305 N. High (also known as Hwy 61 between Jackson and Fruitland) (573) 290-5730;
  • Dexter, March 16, 7–9 p.m. at the National Guard Armory, Highway 114 East near the airport, (573) 290-5730;
  • Kirkwood, March 23, 7–9 p.m. at the Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, 11715 Cragwold Rd., (636) 441-4554;
  • Springfield, March 28, 7–9 p.m. at the Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Training Center, Green County Farm Rd. 61 (located 2 1/2 miles south of Hwy. 160 West), (417) 895-6880;
  • Lamar, March 29, 7–9 p.m. at Memorial Hall, 1100 Broadway, (417) 884-2526 or (417) 895-6880;
  • Blue Springs, March 30, 7–9 p.m. at the Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, 1401 NW Park Rd., (816) 655-6250.

Kansas City’s Blue River Rescue

Kansas City’s Blue River is a 41-mile natural oasis running through one of the nation’s largest urban forest. It is loved by thousands and, on the first Saturday in April each year, thousands join The Friends of the Lakeside Nature Center’s Project Blue River Rescue to remove trash from the stream. Volunteers of all ages and abilities have taken part in the project, which has taken place on the first Saturday in April for the past 15 years. For more information, call (816) 513-8960, vic@kc.rr.com, or visit online.

Agent Notebook

Three statutes help landowners protect their property against trespass:

569.140 Trespass in the 1st degree is a class B misdemeanor.

A person commits the crime of trespass in the first degree if he knowingly enters unlawfully or knowingly remains unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure or upon real property.

A person does not commit the crime of trespass in the first degree by entering or remaining upon real property unless the real property is fenced or otherwise enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders or as to which notice against trespass is given by : (1) Actual communication to the actor; or (2) Posting in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of the intruders.

569.150 Trespass in the second degree is an infraction.

1. A person commits the offense of trespass in the second degree if he enters unlawfully upon real property of another.

569.145 Posting of property against trespassers, purple paint used to mark trees and posts, requirements. Entry on posted property is trespassing in the first degree, a class B misdemeanor.

The owner or lessee of any real property may post the property by identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts around the area to be posted. Each paint mark shall be a vertical line of at least eight inches in length, and the bottom of the mark shall be no less than three feet nor more than five feet high. Such paint marks shall be placed no more than 100 feet apart and shall be readily visible to any person approaching the property. Property so posted is to be considered posted for all purposes.

For further information, contact your local conservation agent.—Kurt Heisler