Conservation Day at the Capitol Emphasizes State’s Appreciation
Conservation is too often taken for granted in Missouri. A lot of that has to do with how incredible our forest, fish and wildlife resources are today. But we haven’t always been so rich in natural resources. Only 80 years ago, Missouri was home to fewer than 500 deer and maybe 2,000 wild turkeys. The Ozarks had been logged bare, and many wildlife species, including elk and bear, had been completely extirpated from our landscape.
Today’s abundance of wildlife and habitat is the direct result of intensive efforts by Missourians who lived through our state’s darkest hour. And now it is our responsibility to continue their efforts of ensuring Missouri has healthy fish and wildlife populations, and adequate habitat and access to public lands on which to recreate. Hundreds of Missourians will be showing their support at Conservation Day at the Capitol on April 12. Will you join us?
Conservation Day at the Capitol, hosted by the Conservation Federation of Missouri, brings dedicated conservationists together in the Capitol building to support our passion for outdoor resources. Over 30 conservation organizations will have booths set up on the 3rd floor of the Capitol between the House and Senate Chambers for you to visit. The 96.7 Classic Rock radio show The Morning Shag with Shags and Trevor is broadcasting live from the event. The World Bird Sanctuary will have a live bald eagle on display that you can take a picture with. By attending, you will have the opportunity to meet you’re your legislators in person and tell them how much conservation and the outdoors means to you.
Many of the Missourians who led the citizens charge to create the science-driven Conservation Commission and fought for the passage of the Design for Conservation Sales Tax, have passed on. Leaving only generations of Missourians who have never known our state to be anything besides a national leader in conservation. For over 40 years now, our Department of Conservation has had both the authority and financial resources necessary to implement science-based conservation practices that have led to fish and wildlife resources beyond the imaginations of those citizens who fought for a better way of living back in the 1930s. But sadly, some Missourians are not as proud of our state’s status as one of the premier conservation states in America. A few of those folks found a way to elected office and are beset on destroying what you and I so deeply cherish.
As much as we like to talk about how fortunate Missouri is to have a Conservation Department that operates free of political control, that’s not completely true. Politics still factor into conservation decision making, and every year throughout the legislative session, bills are filed that would be extremely detrimental to the future of conservation in Missouri. Public hearings are held on some of those bills, and generally, the same crowd of fewer than 10 or so Missourians shows up in Capitol building to defend the wildlife and habitat you care so much about. Conservation needs more outspoken supporters.
Many of you reading this article are simply spoiled. It’s really not your fault, it’s just timing. You’ve always had it good. I was once guilty of it, too. You take for granted the outdoor opportunities you have, because like the sun rising every morning, you just expect deer season is coming next year and fish will continue to be stocked in our lake sand rivers. But there is no guarantee of tomorrow, and certainly no guarantee that your favorite sporting pursuits will continue into the future. If certain legislators could have their way, much of what you care about would be gone, including certain wildlife species and all the public lands they call home.
What if I told you, one state representative, who prides himself on constantly bullying conservationists and attacking the Department of Conservation filed House Bill 450 this year, which would make it a requirement for any youth less than 15 years of age to hunt in the immediate presence of an adult hunter with a valid hunter education certificate card. Meaning, a 14-year old couldn’t walk out onto their family farm after school and hunt alone any longer. This same representative is the outspoken champion of privatized wildlife and the disease spreading captive deer industry, and wants the Katy Trail, which is recognized as one of America’s premier state parks, to be an ATV track. These asinine attempts are rarely covered in the media, so it’s on you as a citizen to be educated, which many conservation organizations in Missouri can help you with.
Ask yourself this; without looking it up, do you know who your state representative is? How about your state senator? Not Federal. Not the polished politicians you sometimes catch a glimpse of on CNN or read about in your statewide newspapers. I’m talking about your local elected representation in the Missouri State Legislature. If you answered no, don’t beat yourself up too bad. Very few people know. But that needs to change. And you need to know. To quickly learn who your senator and representative is, join the free of charge Conservation Federation’s Legislative Action Center found here – http://www.confedmo.org/lac/
If we are to maintain our incredible forest, fish and wildlife resources for future generations of Missourians, you need to be engaging in the politics of conservation. Your voice is powerful, and as a voter, your elected representation better pay attention to you, or they won’t be around long. You need to make sure they understand the importance of political support for conservation, including funding and public land access. Together, we can ensure future generations healthy game and fish populations to pursue, and adequate lands on which to make those pursuits. I hope to see you at Conservation Day at the Capitol.
See you down the trail…