Thursday, May 31, 2012

Volunteer training offered June 3 at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in Missouri
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park in Missouri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you are interested in volunteering at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park near Columbia or just want to learn more about the park, attend the “Volunteering at Rock Bridge 101” training course on June 3 at the park. Sponsored by Missouri State Parks, the training will be held from 1:30 to 5 p.m.

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is seeking people who are able to donate time, energy and enthusiasm to help protect park resources and serve park visitors. This training will cover information on the park’s history, mission and significant resources, including the basic geology, hydrology and biology of the Devil’s Icebox Cave system and its connection to surface watersheds. Part of the training will be held outdoors in the park and will teach map reading and how to identify and control invasive plants.

Potential volunteer opportunities will be outlined including presenting programs for children and adults; patrolling trails; conducting frog, toad and butterfly surveys; controlling invasive plant species; assisting with prescribed burns; maintenance work; office work and researching cultural history. No obligation is required, but participants who complete this training and want to volunteer will receive a volunteer manual and may sign up for additional training and service opportunities.

Advance registration is required for this program, which is designed for adults. Ages 10 to 17 are welcome if accompanied by an adult.  

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park is located five miles south of downtown Columbia on Highway 163. For more information or to register for one of the programs, contact Roxie Campbell at 573-449-7400. For more information about the park or any of Missouri’s state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Day of activity and nature planned June 2 at Graham Cave State Park

Graham Cave, Missouri
Graham Cave, Missouri (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)
Let’s Get Out – Let’s Move!” at a day full of activities and nature June 2 at Graham Cave State Park near Danville. Sponsored by Missouri State Parks, the event encourages physical activity as a fun way to explore Missouri’s state parks and historic sites. The event, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free and open to the public.
Booths from the Dog Scouts of America, St. Louis Area Geocachers Association, Missouri State Parks and the Montgomery County Health Department will be set up around the lower picnic area parking lot. A naturalist will lead walks that vary from .3 miles to more than two miles in length. Participants, who can earn a patch for their walk, should dress for the weather and wear sturdy, closed shoe toes. 
The Montgomery County Health Department will distribute Safe Kids bike helmets free to children under the age of 14 years, and with the Missouri State Park Rangers, will present a bike checklist and safety course.
The St. Louis Area Geocachers Association will be on hand to explain geocaching and show examples of geocache containers, trinkets and logbooks. They will load their GPS receivers with nearby waypoints and will place temporary geocaches for participants to find.
Dog Scouts of America troops will provide information about Dog Scouts. They will provide demonstrations for proper dog greetings and display various back packs for the dogs and their cape with the badges they have earned.
The Montgomery County Health Department will offer pulse oximetry (either baseline or before and after a hike if participants wish), body mass index calculation and literature on available services.
Register for drawings for free hiking sticks, a 20” children’s bicycle, and more! Bring a picnic lunch and join us for a fun, activity-filled day. Reservations are not required, but registration for the guided walks is requested by calling the park.
 Graham Cave State Park is located at 217 Highway TT near Danville. For more information about the event, call the park at 573-564-3476. For more information about Missouri state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Explorer hours begin Memorial Day weekend at Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park

Looking for something fun to do with the family this summer? Earn your Missouri State Park Explorer Patch by participating in fun activities at Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park at Wildwood. Sponsored by Missouri State Parks, these events are free and open to the public.

 Anyone, any age, can earn an Explorer patch by completing projects and fun activities.
Beginning Memorial Day Weekend, special Explorer hours will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday; and from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday. These special hours will continue through Labor Day Weekend.

Topics will change weekly, so there is always something new and exciting to do. Bring your family, your friends and your Scouts and have fun while exploring the park and learning about Missouri’s natural resources.

Contact the River Hills Visitor Center at 636-458-3813 at the park to inquire about each weekend’s theme or check park flyers or the parks Facebook page.

Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park is located 20 miles west of St. Louis on Highway BA, between U.S. 40 and Highway 100. For more information about state parks and historic sites, visit Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Monday, May 28, 2012

June 9 and 10 are Free Fishing Days in Missouri

Leave your worries and your wallet behind,
as you discover nature through the fun of fishing.
JEFFERSON CITY–The best things in life are free, sometimes. The weekend of June 9 and 10 is one of those times, as the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is suspending fishing-permit requirements for those two days.
MDC designates the weekend after the first Monday in June as Free Fishing Days in Missouri each year. The idea is to encourage people to explore the state’s fishing opportunities without having to purchase permits, trout stamps or trout park daily tags.
Fishing is a lifetime sport, something equally doable whether you are 9 or 90. Free Fishing Days is designed to encourage lapsed anglers and first-time fishers to wet a line at one of Missouri’s more than 300 MDC-owned or managed fishing lakes, ponds or stream accesses. Carefully managed fisheries at these areas produce an abundance of opportunities to catch fish ranging from crappie and catfish to trout and muskellunge.
Normal fishing regulations, such as limits on size and number of fish, remain in effect during Free Fishing Days. Regulations are outlined in the 2012 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations, which is available wherever fishing permits are sold, or online at Special permits may still be required at county, city and private fishing areas. Free Fishing Days exempts anglers from MDC permit and tag fees only, not parking or other park fees.
Public fishing areas are available in every county in Missouri. Many offer disabled-accessible facilities. For more information about places to fish, visit or contact the nearest MDC office.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Conservation history video goes on sale in time for Father’s Day

English: Devil's Honeycomb atop Hughes Mountai...
Devil's Honeycomb atop Hughes Mountain, Washington County, MO image provided courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation
The release comes just in time for Father’s Day.
JEFFERSON CITY–The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has a Father’s Day gift idea for outdoorsy dads: a DVD chronicling Missouri’s conservation history.
The Promise Continues: The Missouri Department of Conservation’s 75th Anniversary premiered on television stations statewide in April. Now MDC has a DVD that combines the original program with bonus features.
The 28-minute program traces the Show-Me State’s ground-breaking conservation saga starting with the natural desolation that galvanized citizens to form MDC in the 1930s. Historic photos, film footage and audio files chronicle deer, turkey and forest restoration programs that began in the depths of the Great Depression and carries through the present, with such species as the elk and prairie chicken.
The DVD features the first film produced by MDC in 1940. Other vignettes focus on lookout towerman turned radio personality Woody Bledsoe, “the singing forester,” and renowned naturalist, artist and wildlife filmmaker Charles Schwartz. Living conservation pioneers provide commentary on the achievements of the past three-quarters of a century.
The DVD is available at MDC nature centers and regional offices for $8 plus sales tax. You also can purchase copies through MDC’s online Nature Shop ( or by calling 877-521-8632. Shipping and handling fees apply to phone and online purchases.
The Nature Shop is one way MDC helps Missourians discover nature. It has dozens of other gift ideas for nature lovers.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

MDC to hold open house on CWD next steps June 2 in Macon County

English: Distribution of Chronic Wasting Disea...
English: Distribution of Chronic Wasting Disease April, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Open house will be at New Cambria High School June 2 between 1-4 p.m.

JEFFERSON CITY Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will hold an informational open house on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Macon County on June 2 at New Cambria High School, 501 S. Main St. The public is invited to stop by 1-4 p.m.

MDC staff will provide information on five recently found cases of CWD in free-ranging deer in northwest Macon County, explain disease management actions the Department is taking, answer questions and provide information on managing private land for deer.

MDC’s disease-management steps to help contain the spread of CWD include two regulation changes to the Wildlife Code of Missouri, recommendations on transportation and disposal of deer carcasses and continuing CWD sampling of deer harvested in the area where CWD has been found.
Restriction on Feeding

The Conservation Commission approved a regulation change at its May 25 meeting that places a restriction on activities that are likely to unnaturally concentrate white-tailed deer and promote the spread of CWD. The ban on the placement of grain, salt products, minerals and other consumable natural or manufactured products is limited to the area where CWD has been found in Macon County and is comprised of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties.

The regulation includes exceptions for backyard feeding of birds and other wildlife within 100 feet of any residence or occupied building, or if feed is placed in such a manner to reasonably exclude access by deer. The regulation also includes exceptions for normal agricultural, forest management, crop and wildlife food production practices.

According to MDC Deer Biologist Jason Sumners, the reason for the regulation change is that activities such as feeding and placement of minerals/salts that artificially concentrate deer greatly increase the likelihood of disease transmission from animal to animal or from soil to animal.

Removal of Antler-Point Restriction
The Conservation Commission also approved a regulation change at its May 25 meeting for a special harvest provision that rescinds the antler-point restriction (four-point rule) in Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties.

According to Sumners, the reason for the regulation change is that management strategies such as antler-point restrictions, which protect yearling males and promote older bucks, have been found to increase prevalence rates and further spread the disease.

Sumners explained that yearling and adult male deer have been found to exhibit CWD at much higher rates than yearling and adult females so a reduction in the number of male deer can help reduce the spread of CWD. He added that the movement of young male deer from their birth range in search of territory and mates is also a way of expanding the distribution of CWD.
Don’t Remove Carcasses from Area

MDC also encourages hunters who harvest deer in Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph, and Sullivan counties not to take whole deer carcasses or carcass parts out of the area where CWD has been found.  Exceptions to this include meat that is cut and wrapped, meat that has been boned out, quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached, hides or capes from which all excess tissue has been removed, antlers, antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue, upper canine teeth and finished taxidermy products.

According to Sumners, the reason for this regulation change is that CWD can be transmitted from the environment to deer through soil and water that contain infected waste and/or infected carcasses. Deer can be infected with CWD but have no visible signs or symptoms. Moving harvested deer that still have parts known to concentrate CWD (brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, and lymph nodes) from the area known to have CWD can introduce the disease to other parts of the state through the improper disposal of carcasses.

He explained that hunters should make every attempt to avoid moving the head and spinal cord from the area and properly dispose of potentially infected deer carcasses, including bones and trimmings, to minimize the risk of exposure to uninfected deer. MDC advises hunters to double-bag carcass parts and take them directly to a landfill, or place them in trash cans for pick-up. Burying carcass waste deep enough to prevent scavengers from digging it up is another acceptable option. As a last resort, and only on their own land, hunters can put carcass waste back on the landscape. Carcasses should be put as close as possible to where the deer was harvested so as to not spread CWD-causing prions to new locations. If possible, put the carcass in a location where it will be inaccessible to scavengers and other deer.

Fall Harvest CWD Sampling

Sumners added that MDC will also continue to work with hunters who harvest deer this fall in Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties to collect samples for CWD testing. Details on these efforts are being developed and will be shared before the 2012 fall deer hunting season.

Floating Missouri's Bourbeuse River - An Often Overlooked Gem

May on the Bourbeuse River - 4 or 5 miles downstream from Reiker's Ford
Okay, we know if you read the entries on Ozark Anglers or hear discussions about the Bourbeuse River in Missouri, you are likely to hear some reference to a "muddy ditch."  We have one answer to those comments - flatly wrong!

I don't mean to be confrontational, but a few comments by my son after dinner reinforced my idea that I should write a little on this often overlooked stream of Missouri's northern Ozark region.

David Fishing the Bourbeuse R.

 First of all, the fishing is quite good.  Someone is likely to get after us for publicizing this area when it receives so little traffic, but I believe there's a value to the region by doing so - and I will get to that.  But for now, let me run down a few of the species that we caught (and released): Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass, Sunfish (numerous varieties), Long-nose Gar.

With reference to the bass, the fish we got were numerous and in decent size range.  We were not targeting catfish, but there are stretches of the river where the catfishing is quite good.

The water clarity was similar to what we have experienced on the Big Piney River.  It would be an exaggeration to say the fishing is AS good as the BPR, but you will not be disappointed on an average day of fishing the Bourbeuse.

What's more, this little stream is right in the wheelhouse for residents of St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin, and several other counties. It is ironic that so many people drive right past it on their way to floats that are hours away and of little additional (if any) quality.
David Mann awaiting the evening bite on the Bourbeuse R.

As we sat around after dinner following a short day's float from Reiker's Ford, I asked my son to reflect on this river.  He said, and I am paraphrasing, that the river seems to get little in the way of respect for what it has to offer.  It is not the stereotypical Ozark stream.  It has mile long stretches of water where you could get turned around as to which way is downstream, the current is so slow (read nonexistent).  Not only is the river derided by Missouri outdoors people, but this evidence of disrespect can be found at some of the accesses to the river.

The Bourbeuse offers numerous sandy bars and beaches for camping

Once you get on the river, and away from Reiker's or other accesses, the scenery is magnificent.  High bluffs line much of the river, and where the bluffs are not so close, a canopy of mature deciduous trees create a shady path downstream on a hot day.  Numerous sites beckon the camper with soft sand close to awesome cover for an evening's last couple of hours of fishing after dinner.

You are likely to encounter all manners of Missouri wildlife, including many bird species (hawks, herons, and all manner of other species), whitetail deer, and much more.  The reminders of civilization are few and far between.  From Reiker's Ford access to Mayer's Landing Access, there averages less than a dwelling per river mile.  You will occasionally hear the noise of a road in the distance, but generally, you will hear nothing but the birds singing and the gentle sounds of your paddle plying the water on the way downstream.

So why would I wish to spill the beans on this beautiful spot so little traveled?  Simply this - the river needs the help of those who would wish for it to remain in its natural state.  There is little attention paid to managing properties adjacent to this stream and here, erosion of riverbanks is a problem.  I am no expert on rules and regulations regarding what property owners are permitted to do, but apparently one can get away with bulldozing a path straight into the stream, and given the evidence of traffic on both sides, drive across.  Further, the area at Reiker's is a literal trash dump.  It is absolutely beyond me how one can consume food and drink, then toss the trash over your shoulder. You who do this are reprehensible pigs. I spent some time cleaning up after these "people" on our last trip, and was fortunately able to temporarily erase it from my mind after moving 20 minutes or so downstream.

I always hear the "city folk" (for the record I live in a rural area) blamed for the insanity at the Ozark streams such as the Meramec and Current, but it s pretty clear to me that it's the locals using these areas for party central that is the problem.  I would think they would view their behavior as something akin to defacating in their own yard.  I guess not.  Anyway, my opinion is that if more sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts view the Bourbeuse as a place to go, we can get this behavior minimized.  I would encourage you to report such behavior to the Franklin County Sheriff's Dept. if observed.

Lest I leave this post on a negative note, let me reiterate that our float was magnificent.  We encountered 3 canoes in two full days of floating (two of them were together) and their occupants were as nice as could be.  The eleven mile float between Reiker's and Mayer's is enormously dependent on river levels.  I have made the float in 4 hours (no fishing) but if you will be fishing, it can easily be made a two day float.

If you are looking for a place in east-central Missouri to really enjoy yourself, why not give the Bourbeuse a try?