Note To Our Readers
Yours, Mine, Ours
What a summer this has been in Missouri! While our weather can vary greatly from year to year, we have experienced a summer much different than that of 2012. This year’s cooler temperatures and ample rainfall have provided a unique opportunity for citizens to enjoy our state’s many natural resources to the fullest extent possible. In recent weeks, I had the pleasure of visiting the Mystic Plains of northern Missouri to view native grasslands and remnant prairies in their blooming splendor. If you’ve not had an opportunity to visit these special places, I encourage you to do so. I was also thrilled to fish the Current River in the southern portion of the state, and we all know what a special gem that river is. I am extremely fortunate to live in a place where bird watching is an everyday event and wild turkey, white-tailed deer, and bald eagles are seen with some regularity.
We have been blessed with great natural treasures in Missouri. Abundant forest, fish, and wildlife resources make this state a truly unique place. So who do these wildlife resources belong to? Are they yours, mine, or ours? Part of the answer lies in what our forefathers stated when we were a fledgling nation. In 1842, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Martin v. Waddell that wildlife resources, defined in the broadest sense, are owned by no one and are to be held in trust by the government for the benefit of present and future generations. Our forefathers had great vision and each generation has an incredible responsibility to ensure that our valuable wildlife resources are passed on to the next.
We are faced with many important 21st century conservation challenges that could have lasting implications for those resources that are yours, mine, and more importantly, ours. How will we, together, manage Missouri’s white-tailed deer herd so that sportsmen of today and tomorrow have access to that culturally important resource? How will we manage our state’s vital grassland and remnant prairie resources that provide critical habitats for many wildlife species? How will Missouri, an important agricultural state, help feed a hungry world while ensuring our soil resources, a fundamental building block of terrestrial wildlife habitats, remain in place so streams and rivers are not harmed by erosion? In a state with a growing population, how will we encourage outdoor recreation that facilitates understanding and appreciation of the natural world and wildlife resources without risking over-exploitation? These are important questions, and there are no easy answers.
Missouri’s rich conservation history provides us with insights on how tough challenges can be met and demonstrates the power of collaborative efforts. Collaborative engagement at the grassroots level is an important first step in initiating conversations on important topics. The Department continues to engage in dialog with stakeholders on the topic of in-stream flows and potential impacts of development on vital water resources. Soon, the Department will begin discussions with citizens on the topics of deer management and deer health. These examples demonstrate the Department’s commitment to engage citizens on important conservation issues.
Missouri’s abundant forest, fish, and wildlife resources hold great promise for citizens of today and tomorrow. Those resources are yours, mine, and ours and will require us all to be engaged to sustain them for future generations.
Tom Draper, deputy director