News and Almanac

Tree City USA Honors Missouri Communities

Sixty-nine communities in Missouri received Tree City USA certification by The National Arbor Day Foundation for their efforts in 2005. Tree City USA is sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation. The program recognizes communities that actively care for trees on public property.

Special care is needed to protect trees from tough urban conditions: pollution, poor soils, scorching heat, restricted roots, road salt and vandalism. Providing that special kind of care is what a good community forestry program is all about.

To qualify for certification, a community must meet four standards set by The National Arbor Day Foundation. They include adoption of a tree ordinance outlining how trees on public property will be cared for, establishing a tree board or department, expending at least $2 per capita on tree care, and celebrating Arbor Day.

Communities that meet these requirements are publicly recognized for their contribution to better community forests. The 69 certified communities have found a key to helping trees and to creating a safe and attractive town. To see if your community qualifies for certification go online and search for "Tree City USA."

Time To Think About Arbor Day Poster Contest Entries

It is time for fifth-graders across Missouri to get out crayons, paints, colored pens and pencils and prepare entries for the 2007 Arbor Day Poster Contest. Winners receive cash prizes for their efforts. The theme is “Trees are Terrific … and Forests are, Too!”

The Conservation Department sends contest packets to fifth-grade teachers in public, private and home schools statewide each year. Any fifth-grade teacher can request a packet by contacting Donna Baldwin, poster contest coordinator for Missouri. Requests can be mailed to Baldwin at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102, or by sending an e-mail to donna.baldwin@mdc.mo.gov. The packet includes lesson plans, hands-on activities and contest information. Each school’s winning poster advances to the statewide competition. The winner advances to the national level. The state entry deadline is Jan. 12.

The state winner receives a $50 savings bond, and a 6- to 12-foot tree is planted in their honor. The national winner will be announced on National Arbor Day, April 27, 2007. First prize is a $1,000 savings bond and a lifetime membership in The National Arbor Day Foundation. The winning teacher receives $200 for classroom materials, and the winner, his or her parents, and teacher receive an expense-paid trip to Nebraska City, Neb., birthplace of Arbor Day.

Coast Guard Retiree Still Saving Lives

Mark Riley of Villa Ridge, Mo., was having his morning coffee, looking out over the pond from his deck one morning last May, when he noticed a large fish tail-walking and splashing around. The fish acted as if it were hooked on an angler’s line. Curious, Riley called his son Zack to help him investigate. They discovered an enormous largemouth bass in serious distress. By the time they fetched a landing net, the fish was on its last “legs,” rolling weakly near the surface in shallow water. When they netted the behemoth bass, they discovered a 9-inch bluegill lodged in its throat. Having retired from a 24-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard, Riley was not about to let a senior citizen—even a scaly, slimy one—die without a fight. He used one pair of pliers to dislodge the bluegill’s sharp dorsal fins from the bass’s gullet and another to pull the smaller fish free. After administering the fish equivalent of CPR to the bass, he released it, apparently no worse for wear. Then he turned his attention to the battered bluegill, which eventually swam off on its own power, too. “Another successful rescue mission under my belt,” observed Riley.“It would have been a tragic loss of a magnificent bass and bluegill.”

Rough-leaved dogwood

If you want to attract wildlife to your property, consider the benefits of including rough-leaved dogwood (Cornus drummondii) in your landscape. This species typically grows in deep shade along streams, so it is not as well known as the flowering dogwood.

At least 40 species of birds, including vireos, bluebirds, indigo buntings, cardinals, kingbirds and thrushes, feed on dogwood fruits. Many other birds hunt for insects in its bark, and bobwhite quail (and other birds) use its dense thicket for shelter.

Rough-leaved dogwood can grow to a height of 20 feet. Most often, however, it is a multi-stemmed shrub about 8 feet tall. It flowers in late May to early June, and white, globe-shaped fruits ripen in late August or early September. The leaves turn burgundy in the fall.

This adaptable plant is native throughout Missouri, growing in a wide variety of soil and moisture conditions. It tolerates drought and extreme cold.

The ideal use for rough-leafed dogwood is on woodland edges or as a thicket for wildlife habitat. It spreads readily by sending out underground runners.

To learn more about Missouri’s native plants, visit Grow Native! online.—Barbara Fairchild

Wetlands Project Focus of Partnership Celebration

The newly restored Dehn Wetland near Clinton served as an appropriate backdrop during a ceremony May 24 celebrating the completion of wetland restoration projects on Harry S Truman Reservoir lands managed by the Conservation Department. Director John Hoskins recognized the many partners who made this project possible and joined them in unveiling a sign commemorating the effort.

“There are many types of partnerships, but I am convinced that none is stronger than partners in conservation,” Hoskins said. The celebration was especially appropriate since May was American Wetlands Month.

This project coupled the resources of government agencies, private conservation groups and private businesses with a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to restore 770 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwoods and wet prairie habitats at several sites in Henry and St. Clair counties.

The project added small levees and water-control structures to an existing pump station and pipeline and natural water-flow patterns to minimize cost and maximize benefits to waterfowl, shorebirds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and other wetland-dependant wildlife and plants. The public will benefit from enhanced opportunities for hunting and wildlife viewing. For more information on this project or how to become a wetland conservation partner, call (573) 522-4115, ext. 3353, or e-mail gene.gardner@mdc.mo.gov.

DU Announces Largest Wetland Conservation Campaign in History

A prominent Missourian is taking a leading role in what Ducks Unlimited (DU) bills as the largest wetlands conservation campaign in history. August A. Busch, III, chairman of Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., called the effort “a race against time.”

“Wetlands for Tomorrow” seeks to raise $1.7 billion in five years to fund nine initiatives to restore and manage millions of acres of wetlands. The initiatives are specific to certain areas of North America, so donors can direct gifts toward projects where they have special interests.

DU Executive Vice President Don Young said time is critical to the effort. “Every 10 minutes in the United States, an acre of wetlands is lost. We must reverse this trend, and with this campaign, we know we can do it.”

More information is available online.

Planning for prairie chicken recovery

A new plan aims to turn the tide for Missouri’s dwindling prairie chicken population. Prairie chicken numbers have declined from hundreds of thousands in the 19th century to only about 500 today. The Conservation Commission recently approved a five-year plan setting an ambitious goal of increasing the state’s prairie chicken population to 3,000 and holding it there for 10 years. Partners in the effort include the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Missouri Prairie Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society chapters and Quail Unlimited. The plan calls for establishing tracts of at least 2,000 acres of high-quality grassland in several locations. Around these core areas, partners and landowners will maintain at least 8,000 additional acres of high-quality grassland. Work will begin around Wah-Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area (CA), Taberville Prairie CA, Hi Lonesome Prairie CA and large tracts of open land in southern Pettis County. If success is achieved there, efforts will expand to other areas. Visit onlinefor more information.

Black Bass Anglers to hold crappie tourney Oct. 21

The International Federation of Black Bass Anglers Buddy Crappie Tournament will take place Oct. 21 at the Runaway 2 Resort at Lake of the Ozarks. The entry fee is $50 per two-person team, and the payout is 80 percent of the total purse. The group also plans back-to-back crappie tournaments at Lake of the Ozarks April 28 and May 5, 2007, at Truman Lake. For more information, visit online, or write to IFBBA Headquarters, 3034 E. 32nd St., Kansas City, MO 64128.

Lindenwood shotgunners are national champs

Lindenwood University in St. Charles has won its third Intercollegiate Clay Target National Championship in only four years of competition, establishing itself as a national competitive shotgunning powerhouse. This year’s competition took place at the National Gun Club in San Antonio, Texas. Lindenwood’s team of men and women shooters won first place in the American and international skeet competitions and the American trap competition. They also took second place in the international trap competition on their way to the overall championship.

Shortleaf Pine Symposium

Shortleaf pine and oak-pine forest once blanketed more than 6.5 million acres of southern Missouri. Today’s acreage is less than one-tenth of the original. A symposium titled “Restoration and Ecology of Shortleaf Pine in the Ozarks” will offer participants insights about what happened to those acres and what can be done to regain the biological diversity they once provided. The symposium will take place Nov. 7-9, 2006 at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield. For more information, visit www.missouriconservation.org/science/sl_pine/#about or contact DavidGwaze, (573) 882-9909, ext. 3320, david.gwaze@mdc.mo.gov.

Art Festival Nov. 4-5 in St. Charles

The Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Wildlife Artist Society will holds its second annual Missouri Wildlife Arts Festival Nov. 4 and 5 at the St. Charles Foundry Art Center, 520 N. Main Center, St. Charles. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 4 and noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 5. Admission is $5. Children under age 16 are free. The festival offers the chance to visit with artists who work in media ranging from ceramics and bronze to painting and woodcarving and to purchase art directly from artists. Proceeds from art sales will go to groups sponsoring the event. The other sponsors are the St. Louis Greenway Network and the Open Space Council. For more information, call (800) 575-2322, or (573) 498-3479 or e-mail ron@openspacecouncilstl.org.

Powder Valley getting a birthday makeover

Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood is celebrating its 15th anniversary. The center, at the northwest corner of I-270 and I-44 in Kirkwood, has had more than a million visitors to date. The 22,000 square-foot building is surrounded by 112 acres of oak-hickory forest with three hiking trails (one is handicapped-accessible) and demonstration gardens. It has an indoor wildlife viewing area, a 3,000-gallon aquarium, a living beehive and many other exhibits. Nature walks, indoor naturalist programs with live animals and a wealth of exhibits await visitors.

The nature center currently is updating its exhibits, but a 15-year birthday celebration is planned for next spring to unveil the new exhibits focusing on urban conservation. The center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. The trails are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during daylight-savings time and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the rest of the year.

Bobwhites aren’t allergic to ragweed

Every fall, allergy sufferers complain about ragweed. If bobwhite quail could talk, however, you would get a different story. Quail love ragweed, because this native plant produces seeds they find delectable. Besides that, mature stands of the tall, woody annual weed create ideal bobwhite brood-rearing and roosting habitat. Lots of other wildlife are wild about ragweed for the same reasons. Wildlifeminded landowners can encourage ragweed by light disking, burning, grazing or herbicide application. These practices all encourage sprouting of dormant ragweed seeds. For more information about land management for bobwhite quail, write for a copy write to MDC, On the Edge: A Guide to Managing Land for Bobwhite Quail from Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102, or e-mail pubstaff@mdc.mo.gov. For help implementing the advice contained in the booklet, contact the nearest Conservation Department office and ask to speak with a private land conservationist.

Lake of the Ozarks home to newest QF chapter

Quail hunters around Lake of the Ozarks now have a way to get involved in restoring bobwhite numbers in their home area. Quail Forever (QF) has formed a new chapter in Camden, Miller and Morgan counties. The Osage Whistlers Chapter is led by President Donnie Cauthron of Preston. The chapter plans to focus its efforts on landowner education and on creating and enhancing quail habitat in the three-county area. For more information about the Osage Whistler Chapter of QF, contact Cauthron at (417) 722-4722, lordmaul002002@yahoo.com. For more information about QF, including how to start a chapter, contact Elsa Gallagher at (573) 680-7115, egallagher@quailforever.org.

Agent Notebook

A new class of conservation agents will be making an impact in communities across Missouri. The 19 recently commissioned agents have been furnished with the skills, equipment and authority to protect and enhance conservation in Missouri.

Agent trainees must successfully complete more than 1,000 hours of training, including more than 200 hours of on-the-job training with veteran agents. When they graduate, they are licensed Missouri peace officers, able to enforce all Missouri statutes, including Missouri’s Wildlife Code.

Because most people first think of their county conservation agent when they have a fish, wildlife or land management problem or question, agent trainees also learn about a variety of conservation practices, ranging from creating edge habitat to controlling nuisance wildlife.

The training for these 19 graduates will continue through their careers. Not only will they learn as they work, but they must complete annual training to maintain their peace officer status and to keep current on Conservation Department programs and Wildlife Code regulations.

“We only have them for six months,” said Protection Programs Supervisor Roy Hoggatt, who teaches many of the training classes, “but I like to think they are equipped with the tools and the knowledge to think on their own and be successful.”

The latest graduating class joins 196 commissioned conservation agents already in the field. The next class will likely take place in 2008. Application information for that class will be announced in the Conservationist and under the “Jobs” section of the Conservation Department’s website at www.missouriconservation.org.Tom Cwynar

The 2006 Conservation Agent class and their assigned counties. Top row from left: Matthew Spurgeon, temporarily to Bollinger/Cape Girardeau/Perry; Jason Braunecker, temporarily to Phelps; Justin Fogle, Vernon; Matt Hitchings, temporarily to Cole ; Matt Hamilton, Maries; Steve Adam Strader, McDonald. Center row from left: Jake Strozewski, temporarily to Cass ; Brock McArdle, Lewis; Kyle Booth, Pemiscot; Jerid Wilkinson, Audrain; William Billy Barton, Iron; Ryan Duey, Shannon; Andy Barnes, Lawrence. Bottom row from left: Adam Doerhoff, temporarily to Adair/Macon; Kevin Eulinger, Lincoln; Becky Olerich, Monroe; Jennifer Hershberger, Laclede; Ben Pursley, Washington; Aaron Post, Platte.