News & Events

Missouri Lake Projects Set National Standard

Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo are among 10 “Waters to Watch” selected by the National Fish Habitat Partnership (fishhabitat.org). The designation recognizes the importance of strategic conservation partnerships in protecting, restoring and enhancing the two lakes’ condition.

Table Rock Lake encompasses 43,100 acres, and Lake Taneycomo covers just over 2,000 acres. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the recreational use of Lake Taneycomo alone at between 40 and 50 million visitors annually with the economic value of the fishery estimated at $41 million in 1997.

MDC and federal agencies identified recreational and agricultural development and population growth as sources of water-quality problems at Lake Taneycomo. In response, the Table Rock Lake Area Chamber of Commerce formed Table Rock Lake Water Quality (TRLWQ) to address the problems. The nonprofit TRLWQ received $2 million in federal funding and $667,000 in local matching funds to find solutions.

MDC identified lack of structural habitat in Table Rock Lake as a limiting factor on fish community stability. MDC, in cooperation with Bass Pro Shops, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, launched a five-year project to enhance fish habitat in Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo. This resulted in the installation of 1,650 fish habitat structures at Table Rock Lake. GPS coordinates of structure locations are available at mdc.mo.gov/node/10182. The project also included eight erosion-and sediment-control projects in the Table Rock Lake watershed. The project, with a budget of $4.5 million, will serve as a pilot program for reservoir fish-habitat efforts nationwide.

Habitat improvements to the upper portion of Lake Taneycomo began in November 2011 and will include large rock structures designed to increase holding areas for trout and other fish, as well as increase locations for anglers to fish.

Projects like these are beyond the resources of any single agency. Public-private partnerships are vital to addressing these issues. For more information, visit fishhabitat.org.

MDC knows Missourians care about clean water and great fishing and works to help them keep waters clean and productive.

Missouri Schools Trash Litter

Students from 20 elementary and middle schools helped fight litter by participating in the 2012 “Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter Free” trash can decorating contest.

MDC sponsors the contest in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Transportation (Mo-DOT) as part of the “No MOre Trash!” anti-litter campaign. The contest encourages classes from kindergarten through eighth grade to join the fight against litter by decorating and displaying a large trash can with the “No MOre Trash!” logo and a litter prevention message using a variety of creative mediums. The winning school from each of three competition categories receives a $200 award. First-place winners are eligible for a $600 grand prize and trophy.

The OMS Green Team of Oakville Middle School won first place for grades 6 through 8 and the grand prize. Its theme was “Refresh the Earth” to encourage more recycling and less waste and trash in the school and lunch room.

The Elementary Student Council of S.M. Rissler Elementary School won first place for grades 3 through 5, and the El Dorado Springs Elementary School K–2 Gifted Class won first place for grades K through 2.

Missourians care about keeping their outdoors clean. No MOre Trash is one way MDC helps. MDC and MoDOT spend approximately $6 million annually cleaning up litter.

River “Rumble”

Looking for summer adventure close to home? The 2012 Great River Rumble July 28 through Aug. 4 is a reasonably priced, week-long float trip without logistical hassles.

The nonprofit Midwest River Expeditions organizes a “rumble” each summer on the upper Mississippi River or one of its great tributaries. This year’s trip will take 100 to 200 rumblers on a 144-mile excursion from Jefferson City to the confluence with the Mississippi River.

Along the way, paddlers will see bald eagles and ospreys, jumping Asian carp and other wildlife. They will comb sandbars for arrowheads and artifacts washed out of sunken riverboats, mark the passage of landmarks mentioned in Lewis and Clark’s journals and explore the river communities of Bonnots Mill, Chamois, Hermann, Washington, Klondike and St. Charles.

The event is made to order for people who have always wanted to float the Missouri River but who lack the experience or confidence to do it alone. Rumblers paddle as a group, with powerboats fore and aft to ensure everyone stays together and reaches each evening’s destination safely.

For full information, visit riverrumble.org, write to Great River Rumble, PO Box 3408, Dubuque, Iowa 52004-3408, or call Rex Klein at 708-747-1969.

Conserving streams attracts thousands of nature-related tourists to Missouri who spend millions of dollars here annually.

Mountain Lions In, Out of Missouri

The most recent news about mountain lions in Missouri is a confirmed trail-camera sighting in Grundy County in April. MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team confirmed the sighting reported by the landowner where the cat was photographed. It was the 29th confirmed mountain lion sighting in Missouri since 1994.

Mountain lions were part of Missouri’s original fauna, but were extirpated by the early 20th century. Evidence indicates that sightings in recent decades are due to young male mountain lions dispersing from western states. MDC has no evidence of a breeding population here.

MDC also has received new information recently about a cougar captured by a trail camera in Linn County in December 2010. That cat was wearing a distinctive radio collar and ear tag, which match those placed on a young male cougar captured by biologists near the South Dakota-Nebraska border in April 2010. If this was the same cat, it traveled at least 500 miles to reach Missouri.

Then, in July 2011, a trail camera in northern Wisconsin captured a cougar with the same types of ear tag and radio collar. If these all were the same cat, as experts think is likely, it traveled more than 1,100 miles from its capture site to the latest photo location.

Although this is a long distance, it is by no means the longest mountain lion dispersion on record. Young male mountain lions routinely travel long distances in search of females and territories not already occupied by adult cougars. We will update you on any further sightings of this footloose feline.

Missouri is a great place to discover nature. For more information about mountain lions in Missouri, see Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer’s article Living With Large Carnivores in the April issue of the Conservationist.

Master Conservationist, Hall of Fame

The Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame gained two new members in April, and one new conservationist joined the Missouri Master Conservationists.

At a ceremony April 13 at the Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City, the Conservation Commission inducted engineer/entrepreneur Earl Hoyt Jr. and career conservationist Paul Jeffries into the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame.

Hoyt founded the Hoyt Archery Company in 1942, turning his engineering skills into a business built around archery and bowhunting. Hoyt’s Pro Medalist bows dominated four Olympic Games, and his innovations are visible in high-tech compound bows even today.

Hoyt and his wife, Ann, established the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s Earl and Ann Hoyt Scholarship Fund for students entering the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources. Many Hoyt scholarship recipients have gone on to successful careers in conservation.

Jeffries began his MDC career in 1948 as a conservation agent in Ste. Genevieve County. His ability to work with private landowners, public officials and conservation organizations to protect and improve resource management did not go unnoticed and, in 1954, he was promoted to the Field Service Section.

As a field service agent, Jeffries quickly realized that MDC had to win over landowners if it hoped to significantly improve wildlife habitat throughout the state. He brought together government agencies, sportsmen and other groups to promote a landowner wildlife initiative offering various forms of assistance such as seed or planting stock.

Hoyt and Jeffries collaborated on two conservation achievements—establishing Missouri’s first archery deer season in 1946 and founding the Missouri Bow Hunters Association. Both men served as ambassadors to promote archery and bowhunting in Missouri and were mentors to future enthusiasts.

At a ceremony April 11 at the MDC Headquarters, Oscar “Oz” Hawksley received the title of Master Conservationist. Hawksley, 91, is known to thousands of Missourians whom he taught about the outdoors during a six-decade career. He taught for many years at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, where he developed wildlife conservation courses for recreation majors and students preparing for careers in field biology. Over the course of 30 years, he introduced Missourians to backpacking, canoeing and spelunking through field trips.

Hawksley is a founding member of the Ozark Wilderness Waterways Club and American Whitewater, a fellow of the National Speleological Society and co-founder of the Missouri Speleological Survey. He is also a founding member of American Rivers, a national organization instrumental in saving threatened rivers.

Perhaps his best-known achievement was writing Missouri Ozark Waterways. This paddler’s guide has encouraged generations of Missourians to develop a personal connection to the state’s float streams.

For more information visit mdc.mo.gov/ node/7763 or mdc.mo.gov/node/7759.

The Master Conservationist and Conservation Hall of Fame programs recognize Missourians who care about their state’s forests, fish and wildlife and play an active role in conserving them.

Conservationist Archive

All issues of the Missouri Conservationist, from 1938 to present, now are available online. A partnership between MDC and the Missouri State Archives allowed scanning of issues from 1938 through 1997. These issues are available in the searchable Missouri Digital Heritage database at go.usa.gov/VTW. MDC’s archive of Conservationist issues from 1995 to present are available at mdc.mo.gov/conmag/archive.

Horton Farm Donation

Antje and Bill Horton loved walking the trails at Pickle Springs Natural Area, located just a few miles south of the Horton farm in Ste. Genevieve County. They had met in Germany in the early 1970s while Bill was serving in the United States Navy, and thereafter found themselves living either overseas or on the East Coast. Periodically, they returned to Ste. Genevieve County for family visits. Bill died in a car accident in 1997. ”He loved the farm, a part of which had been in the Horton family for more than a century, and wanted it to be conserved for wildlife and the public’s enjoyment. “Our estate plan provided that the farm was to be donated,” Antje stated from her home in Arlington, Va. In 2007, she offered the 640-acre farm as a donation to the Conservation Department, specifying that the new area be named the Horton Farm Conservation Area. ”I wanted to honor my husband’s wish to donate the property so that people could have a place to go and enjoy being outdoors. I remember the times when we would go to Pickle Springs [Natural Area], and walk around. I always thought it was such a beautiful place. It is my hope that children and adults alike will enjoy and have similar feelings about the Horton Farm Conservation Area.” The Horton Farm CA is rolling hills with forested ravines and small streams. To learn more, go to mdc.mo.gov/a201009. —by David McAllister

Snaggers: We Need Your Help and Want Your Opinions

Missouri has some of the best paddlefish snagging in the United States. MDC staff have been studying and stocking these prehistoric fish for 40 years but still have much to learn, such as the number of people snagging and the number and size of snagged paddlefish. This information can help further improve paddlefish stocking and management.

To obtain the kind of detailed information it now lacks, MDC is considering instituting a paddlefish snagging permit and tracking paddlefish harvest through Telecheck, as it does for deer and turkey. Snaggers and others may have ideas or suggestions about these ideas. We want to hear from them. Please share comments and suggestions at mdc.mo.gov/node/17458.

Paddlefish stocking and management helps make Missouri a great place to fish.

Youth Turkey Harvest Up

Wonderful weather and an uptick in turkey numbers statewide helped hunters age 6 through 15 harvest 4,319 turkeys during the 2012 youth spring turkey hunt. That is up from 3,898 in 2011.

Each year, MDC sets aside a weekend before the main, three-week spring turkey season for young hunters. Warm, clear weather prevailed during this year’s youth season, in spite of the season being held a week earlier than normal to avoid conflict with the Easter holiday.

The youth hunt has gained in popularity ever since youngsters had their first separate hunt in 2001. That year’s harvest was 2,530. This year’s total was the highest so far, up 9.5 percent from the previous high of 3,945 in 2010.

“The youth hunt is a wonderful opportunity for adults to focus on giving young hunters a good experience,” says MDC Resource Scientist Jason Isabelle. “Turkey hunters are passionate about their sport, and they get a lot of satisfaction from sharing it with youngsters. It actually enhances the enjoyment of turkey hunting.”

Youth hunting seasons help make Missouri first in hunter recruitment.

Did You Know? We help people discover nature.

Visit a Natural Area

  • The Missouri Natural Areas program works to conserve the best
  • remaining examples of Missouri’s forests, woodlands, savannas, prairies, glades, cliffs, wetlands, caves, springs, streams and rivers.
  • More than 180 areas and 73,000 acres are designated natural areas across the state.
  • More than 350 Missouri species of conservation concern are provided habitat through the Natural Areas program.
  • Partners make it happen—MDC, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Mark Twain National Forest, the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy all work together to make the Natural Areas program successful.
  • Great recreation opportunities await visitors to natural areas, including hiking, nature photography, bird watching, nature study, hunting and fishing.
  • Celebrate 35 years of the Missouri Natural Areas program by planning to visit an area near you.
  • Plan your visit online. Visit mdc.mo.gov/node/2453 to find a complete listing of areas and to learn more about what each area has to offer.
  • Experience these special places firsthand by purchasing the beautiful, user-friendly guide Discover Missouri Natural Areas: A Guide to 50 Great Places. Author Mike Leahy, MDC’s natural areas coordinator, provides natural history information that brings to life the outstanding geological, biological and ecological features of each area. Easy to-use maps and stunning photographs compliment the text. Purchase this guide at MDC conservation nature centers or mdcnatureshop.com.