Nature Shop has fresh, economical holiday gift ideas

JEFFERSON CITY—Missourians looking for reasonably priced holiday gifts can browse through an abundance of possibilities at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online Nature Shop or at more than a dozen locations statewide.

The Nature Shop has something for anyone with an interest in nature or outdoor recreation, whether their favorite pastime is watching Animal Planet or foraging for wild edibles.

One of The Nature Shop’s most popular items is the Natural Events Calendar, a gift that lasts all year. The 2011 edition features more than three dozen stunning color photographs of everything from a bald eagle foraging in a snowstorm to an austere December landscape of the Devil’s Honeycomb. Notes about seasonal happenings make the Natural Events Calendar a daily revelation. Added features for 2011 include a “Get Out and Explore” section with photos from spectacular places you might want to visit and a guide to introducing children to nature. The calendar sells for $7 per copy. Shipping and handling and sales tax will be added where applicable. You also can buy copies by calling toll-free 877-521-8632 or through The Nature Shop, www.mdcnatureshop.com.

The “Trees of Missouri Field Guide “($7.50) has color illustrations to help identify more than 200 trees. The backpack-sized book groups trees by leaf shape, making it easy to sort out the identity of almost any tree.

Do you have youngsters on your shopping list? “Show-Me Herps: An uncommonly colorful guide to 50 cool amphibians and reptiles in Missouri” is an excellent choice for children. This pocket-sized, 152-page guidebook has gorgeous color illustrations of snakes, lizards, turtles, salamanders, frogs and toads. Each entry also has a wealth of information about where and how the animal lives and how it affects our lives. The regular price is $7.95 plus sales tax and shipping and handling. Buy a copy between now and Dec. 31 and receive a 20-percent discount.

Wild-food foragers on your shopping list will appreciate Missouri’s “Wild Mushrooms: a Guide to hunting, identifying and cooking the state’s most common mushrooms.” This new, 185-page book provides clear color photos of dozens of fungi, along with detailed information about edibility, when and where they are found and look-alike species. There are even tips on preserving mushrooms and recipes such as “Shrimp Parmesan with Cinnabar Chanterelle Garni,” “Salmon with Black Trumpet Sauce,” and “Chanterelle and Bacon Pizza.” The price is $14 plus sales tax and shipping and handling.

This is just a sampling of the array of gifts available from The Nature Shop. Other items include audio CDs of bird, frog and insect songs; historical, musical and educational DVDs; print and DVD guides to public recreation areas and more. All are available by calling toll-free 877-521-8632 or visiting mdcnatureshop.com.

The Conservation Department also has places where you can do your shopping in person. Regional conservation offices stock new publications and a small selection of other Nature Shop items. Gift shops at conservation nature centers (CNCs) have an even wider selection of items than is available online. Check out one of these locations near you:

ST. LOUIS

• St. Louis Regional Office at August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area, 2360 Hwy D, St Charles.

• Powder Valley CNC, 11715 Cragwold Road, Kirkwood.

• Columbia Bottom Visitor Center, 801 Strodtman Road, St. Louis.

KANSAS CITY

• Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave, Kansas City.

• Burr Oak Woods CNC, 1401 NW Park Road, Blue Springs.

SOUTHWEST

• Southwest Regional Office, 2630 N. Mayfair, Springfield.

• Springfield CNC, 4600 S. Chrisman, Springfield.

• Joplin Office, 705 Illinois St., Joplin.

CENTRAL

• Resource Science Center, 1110 S. College Ave., Columbia.

• Runge CNC, 330 Commerce Drive (Highway 179), Jefferson City.

SOUTHEAST

• Southeast Regional Office, 2302 County Park Drive, Cape Girardeau.

NORTHWEST

• Northwest Regional Office, 701 James McCarthy Drive, St Joseph.

OZARKS

• Ozarks Regional Office, 551 Joe Jones Blvd., West Plains.

NORTHEAST

• Northeast Regional Office, 3600 S. Baltimore, Kirksville.

• Hannibal Office, 653 Clinic Road, Hannibal.

-Jim Low-