The Promise Continues
What’s past,” William Shakespeare famously wrote in The Tempest, “is prologue.” Shakespeare was right—what’s past is but a prelude of more important things to come. The Department’s 75th anniversary is a fitting time for Missourians to reflect on more than seven decades of successful citizen-led conservation efforts. The hard work of multiple generations has brought back a number of fish and wildlife species to abundance; restored healthy forests; greatly improved access to hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreational opportunities; and created a Department that is a national leader in forest, fish and wildlife conservation.
The Spirit of Conservation
Missouri citizens have taken unique and proactive steps to support and enhance conservation. What we now consider “business as usual” was quite groundbreaking in its early days. Back in 1936, Missourians rallied to create a Conservation Commission through a state constitutional amendment. This gave Missouri the nation’s first apolitical, citizen-led, conservation agency with a management approach based on technical research. Then in 1976, citizens voted again to dedicate funding for the long-term work of conservation through a one-eighth of one percent sales tax, known as the Design for Conservation.
“These were truly visionary concepts,” says MDC Director Robert L. Ziehmer. “Thankfully, these citizenled actions created a solid foundation for conservation. We continue to reap many benefits from abundant forest, fish and wildlife resources today.”
Despite the numerous conservation successes that can be credited to Missouri’s unique citizen-led conservation model, many of the same challenges that faced early conservationists decades ago persist today. Citizen involvement remains vital to ensure that healthy lands and waters continue to support the complex web of life in an ever-changing environment. But the future is bright. The Show-Me State is uniquely poised to lead in a future that will be full of new opportunities and challenges.
Missourians will face new conservation issues and trends head-on with the Department’s time-tested, science-based approach to conservation coupled with active resource management. One common theme in forest, fish and wildlife management is “change is the only constant.” Just as an unkempt field may eventually become choked with weeds, so too might a prairie ultimately grow up in saplings; a forest suffer from diminished habitat diversity; and altered waterways fail to meet the spawning and brood-rearing needs of fish and other aquatic organisms.
The Department’s active resource management of the state’s more than 900 conservation areas, as well as the numerous technical