Note to Our Readers

Caring for Conservation Facilities


Bill Lueckenhoff

For more than 70 years, the Missouri Department of Conservation has worked diligently to carry out its citizen-created mission. Part of that mission is to provide opportunities for all citizens to use, enjoy and learn about fish, forest and wildlife resources.

Since its beginning in 1937, the Department has acquired more than 1000 conservation areas across the state and has invested in the development of numerous facilities to fulfill our mission. Examples include fishing lakes and ponds, wetlands, shooting ranges, boat launching ramps, roads, parking lots, trails, nature centers and fish hatcheries. One of our ongoing challenges is maintaining these important conservation facilities that hundreds of thousands of people enjoy each year.

For example, the facilities of the Department’s coldwater trout hatchery system were constructed in the 1940s and 1950s and are in need of renovation to continue to meet the desires of Missouri’s anglers. The facilities include Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery near Branson, Bennett Spring Fish Hatchery near Lebanon, Roaring River Fish Hatchery near Cassville, Montauk Fish Hatchery near Salem and Meramec Springs Fish Hatchery near St. James. These fish hatcheries produce nearly two million pounds of trout per year that are stocked in Lake Taneycomo and the four trout parks for the enjoyment of Missouri anglers. We are in the final phase of making major renovations at the coldwater trout hatchery facilities. The result will be more efficient and effective trout production and the stocking of bigger fish for anglers to enjoy.

Similar to the coldwater hatcheries, many of the Department’s major wetlands are more than 50 years old and are in need of renovation. Renovation of wetlands is taking place at Fountain Grove, Ted Shanks, Montrose, Duck Creek and Schell Osage Conservation Areas. The original working parts of the wetlands, including levees, water control structures and pumps, are simply past their life expectancy. The renovation will revive the wetland management and function of these historical areas to ensure that they will be enjoyed by many generations to come.

To meet the challenge of maintaining our infrastructure, the Department has developed an inventory system. The system provides a detailed account of infrastructure assets, a means to monitor maintenance history and an ability to project future needs. Special attention is given to major building facilities (i.e. nature centers and offices) and major mechanical items (pumps, engines, wells and hatchery equipment) as well as asphalt roads and parking lots. The infrastructure inventory system allows us to project the peaks and valleys of maintenance needs and provides a means for budget planning.

The Department of Conservation places utmost emphasis on taking care of its facilities and conservation areas for the enjoyment of the public. Repair and renovation of these facilities requires significant resources and will continue to be a challenge for years ahead. Next time you are enjoying Missouri’s beautiful conservation areas and facilities, you will have a better understanding of what it takes to help everyone enjoy our fish, forest and wildlife resources.

-Bill Lueckenhoff, design and development division chief