State Adopts New Forest Management Policy

Article excerpt

How many acres of Missouri's state-owned forests are used for wildlife or recreation, and how many acres are also managed through timber cutting?

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has recently released a plan for managing forests on conservation lands that answers these questions.

By formalizing its forest management policy, MDC has given Missourians a picture of how forests are used on conservation areas. Forestry field programs supervisor Carl Hauser says the Missouri Conservation Commission asked the agency's staff to establish how much of the agency's land is managed for natural values, timber, wildlife, research and intensive recreation to accommodate high levels of public use. "We wanted to show how much forest land should be allocated to various management categories," Hauser says. Most lands (83 percent) are open to a variety of uses, with 10 percent of those set aside for old-forest growth and not available for timber harvest. Most rural forest lands fall within this category. Some 7 percent of MDC forest lands are used more for a narrowest of values, such as unique plant and animal communities. They are relatively roadless, nonmotorized areas with no timber harvesting and limited or no development. An additional 3 percent of MDC forest lands are designated primarily for research, education or demonstration. Timber harvesting may occasionally occur on a large scale or may never occur, depending on research objectives. Timber production or wildlife habitat would probably not be a factor. The Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project and the Presley Conservation Education Center are examples of this category. The final 7 percent of forested tracts are used for urban and intense recreation. Rockwoods Reservation in the St. Louis area and Burr Oak Woods just outside Kansas City are examples of this category. In these areas managed for high public use, aesthetic concerns are more important than other uses. Missourians were given a chance to comment on the policy, and MDC rece ived about 100 letters. "Some asked for less timber cutting on conservation lands, and some asked for more," Hauser says. MDC forest managers were asked to assign tracts to one of four categories. "Our staff didn't change categories, but noted how the lands were currently designated," Hauser adds. As new lands become available, they will be assigned a category based on a planning team's recommendations and public input. MDC will continue to focus on user surveys and telephone surveys to gauge public opinion, information that will be used to guide future forest uses. 1,000 Stream Teams BOURBON, Mo. - Mark VanPatten beams like a proud father when he talks about the birth of Stream Team No. 1,000. Part of his pride stems from the program's phenomenal growth, which began in 1989. But he's also proud that the state's 1,000th Stream Team has a proven commitment to stream conservation and the knack for grass-roots stewardship that typifies Stream Teams 1 through 999. VanPatten's paternal feelings toward Missouri Stream Teams is understandable. Although he has only been Stream Team coordinator for the Conservation Federation of Missouri since 1993, he was president of the Roubidoux Fly Fishers when that group became Stream Team No. 1. The Conservation Federation and the Missouri Departments of Conservation and Natural Resources are the program's cosponsors, but VanPatten has been involved from the start. VanPatten says it is particularly gratifying that Missouri's landmark 1,000th stream team - Explorer Post No. 2429 of Bourbon - has a proven track record of making things happen. The group is six years old. Like most Explorer posts, it is coed, with members ranging from 14 to 18 years of age. Aggressive fundraising and community service efforts have enabled the Explorer post to conduct an annual stream cleanup, operate a recycling program and participate in the work of providing food and housing for the needy in Crawford County. …


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