Monday, March 31, 2014

Champion black maple found in Harrison County

Gilman City, Mo. – A black maple tree in rural northwest Missouri has joined a list of giants.
The black maple growing in a field edge in southeastern Harrison County recently qualified for the list of Missouri State Champion Trees.
   The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) keeps a list of champions to celebrate the beauty and economic benefits trees provide in forests, fields and lawns. Trees are chosen by a formula that takes into account trunk circumference, height and crown spread.
   This new champ is 58 feet tall with a crown spread of 81 feet and a trunk circumference measurement of 115.8 inches. The tree is owned by John Milligan of rural Gilman City. Milligan was recently presented with a state champion tree plaque by Jason Severe, an MDC forester.
   Black maple trees are similar to sugar maples. But the black maples have leaves that are wider and more drooping. Leaf stalks are longer. Twigs greater than two years old have a waxy coating.
   For more information on Missouri State Champion Trees, go to

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Learn about recent archaeological investigations at Van Meter State Park April 10

Visitors are invited to attend a lecture given by Professor Jack H. Ray on an archaeological project conducted at Van Meter State Park near Miami. Sponsored by Missouri State Parks, the presentation
will take place at Missouri's American Indian Cultural Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 10 in Van Meter State Park.
Jack H. Ray, professor at Missouri State University Center for Archaeological Research, will present an overview of the archaeological survey that was conducted in the fall of 2013. He will discuss the archeological sites that date between 2,000 and 300 years, with a focus on those associated with large-scale quarrying of high-quality chert. This chert was processed into stone tools such as spear points, arrowheads, knives and scrapers.
Entrance to the cultural center is free and open to the public. Missouri's American Indian Cultural Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays from October through March.
Van Meter state Park is located 12 miles northwest of Marshall on Highway 122. For more information about the event, contact the park at (660) 886-7537. For information about state parks and historic sites, Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Southeast Mo. couple passes hummingbird torch

Jim and Judy Ainsworth used to go through 700 pounds of  sugar a year. Now they
hope others will take up the slack.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – When hummingbirds arrive in the area of Cape Girardeau this spring, they will be looking for new friends to visit.
In 1996, Judy Ainsworth saw hummingbirds coming to a friend’s nectar feeder and fell in love. Soon she had several feeders of her own. Seeing how much joy the jewel-like feathered creatures gave her, Judy’s husband, Jim, launched into hummingbird feeding in a big way. One feeder turned into four. Four multiplied to 12, and the number of hummingbirds visiting the Ainsworths’ yard kept pace with the increasing supply of sugar water.
At the peak of their hummer-feeding career, the Ainsworths put out 24 feeders, each holding 48 ounces of nectar, every April and went through 10 pounds of sugar a day during the peak feeding months from May through August. They bought sugar in 50- to 70-pound lots. Jim once calculated how many hummingbirds it would take to suck down the amount of sugar water he was putting out each day.
“It came to somewhere between 500 and 700 birds,” he says. “After eating, they would fly back across the field toward the woods at Trail of Tears State Park. There’s no telling how many hundreds of young ones we were feeding.”
Eventually, though, the demands of daily feeding for five months at a stretch overwhelmed the couple.
“We thoroughly enjoyed it through the years,” says Jim. “But due to health problems, we had to give it up. Those little things were working me to death.”
So in 2013, the Ainsworths decided not to put out any feeders at all. They stuck to their decision when hummingbirds arrived in April and hovered around windows, as if they hoped to remind their benefactors it was time to start mixing up sugar water. But their resolve crumbled when they saw a hummingbird trying to get a drink from their pond.
“The poor little guy was thirsty,” Jim says. “I couldn’t stand to watch that, so I put out one feeder. Before long they were swarming and fighting over that one, so I put out one more. That was where I drew the line.”
Jim says he might go as far as two feeders again this year, but even that is a stretch. Last year he went through 200 pounds of sugar. He is hoping others in the Cape Girardeau area take up the slack and put out nectar feeders of their own.
Only one species of hummingbird – the ruby-throated – is commonly seen in Missouri. They eat tiny insects for protein and other nutritional needs, but for their tremendous energy requirements they need high-octane food – sugary nectar from flowers or manmade substitutes. They consume about half their body weight of nectar daily. Helping them meet their energy needs is simple and yields big rewards in viewing enjoyment. Here are the Ainsworth’s recommendations for successful hummer feeding.
  • Use a solution of one part sugar dissolved in four parts boiling water. Let the water cool before filling feeders.
  • Do not add red food coloring or use commercially prepared solutions with red dye. A little red or yellow on the outside of the feeder is enough to draw in hummers. Colored solution won't attract more birds, and may even harm them.
  • Empty and wash feeders at least once a week and refill them with fresh sugar water to prevent the growth of harmful germs.
  • Put out feeders the first week in April in southern Missouri, a week or two later in central or northern Missouri.
The actual arrival date varies considerably from year to year and depends on weather. The Ainsworths have noticed a correlation between the appearance of the first yellow sulfur butterflies and the arrival of hummingbirds. The hummingbird migration map at allows hummer enthusiasts to report their first sightings of the year and track the migration through others’ reports. In mid-March of this year, the map showed the little birds had reached central Arkansas.
Some hummingbird feeding enthusiasts separate their feeders and keep them out of sight of each other to minimize fighting between birds. Others take the opposite approach, putting all their feeders in one place so one bird finds it difficult to defend all the feeders at once and learn to share.
Turf battles decrease in later summer and early autumn, when hummers' need for extra energy for migration partially overrides territoriality. In August and September, migrating hummingbirds gather by the dozens or even hundreds around reliable nectar sources. At that time of year, there may be four or five hummingbirds waiting their turn in trees and bushes for every bird at a feeder.
The Ainsworths and other serious hummingbird watchers keep their feeders out late into the fall. This provides food for birds that migrate late, as young or sick birds often do. Keeping feeders out late also increases your chances of seeing hummingbird species that are rare in Missouri, such as Anna's, green violet-eared, Costa's, broad-tailed, Allen's, and Calliope hummingbirds. This can occur as late as December.
For more information about hummingbirds, visit

Friday, March 28, 2014

Enjoy Batfest at Onondaga Cave State Park April 5

The Atoll_Onondaga Cave, MO
The Atoll_Onondaga Cave, MO (Photo credit: javacrat)
The fascinating and often misunderstood world of bats will be celebrated on Saturday, April 5 at Onondaga Cave State Park near Leasburg. Sponsored by Missouri State Parks, the free festival will be held from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Activities for all ages will be featured throughout the festival. Kids will be able to enjoy bat-related crafts and activities and explore an inflatable cave. Visitors can enjoy discounted tours of Onondaga Cave and exhibits on cave gear, cave restoration, and bat preservation.

From 11 a.m.-2 p.m., representatives from Incredible Bats will present live bat shows featuring African straw colored fruit bats. Between scheduled demonstrations, the fruit bats will be on display in the visitor center for all to observe.

The Missouri SuperGraphic by U-Haul will also be on display. The graphic, a part of U-Haul’s “Venture Across America” campaign, features Onondaga Cave State Park and the red bat, which makes its home in the woods of the park.

In addition to Onondaga Cave and the visitor center, Onondaga Cave State Park features a campground, trails, picnic sites, and access to the Meramec River for fishing and canoeing. The park is located on Highway H off Interstate 44 at the Leasburg (#214) in Crawford County. 

For more information about the event, contact the park at 573-245-6576. For more information on Missouri state parks and historic sites, go to Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Discover nature with webcam of falcons nesting

The birds are back! MDC, Ameren Missouri, and World Bird Sanctuary again partner on video feed of falcons nesting in St. Louis.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Like swallows returning to Capistrano, a pair of peregrine falcons has
again returned to a nesting box at Ameren Missouri's Sioux Energy Center in St. Louis. Through a cooperative effort, Ameren Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), and the World Bird Sanctuary (WBS) are providing the public with a third year of their online “FalconCam” for a bird’s-eye view of the peregrine falcons raising their chicks.
Falcon nesting activities can be viewed via the FalconCam from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. (CDT) seven days a week on MDC’s website at, on Ameren’s website at and on the WBS website at WBS experts will offer periodic website commentary on what’s happening in the nest. The FalconCam will be available until nesting activity is complete and the young have left the nest.
Peregrine falcons have been seen at Sioux Energy Center since early 2011. Ameren staff installed the webcam at the nest site in January 2012. This year’s nesting activities were first spotted in February. Researchers at WBS and MDC have determined the male was hatched at Ameren Missouri's Labadie Energy Center in 2004. The female was hatched in Iowa in 2006.
According to WBS Director Jeff Meshach, the female laid her first egg this year on March 21. Last year, she laid a total of four eggs and all four chicks survived to leave the nest. She is expected to lay a total clutch of four to five eggs this year. Once the last egg is laid, the chicks will hatch in about 30 days. The male falcon will bring food to the female and take his turns incubating the eggs so the female can feed and preen her feathers.
“What we will see at Ameren’s Sioux Energy Center nest box is the fruit of tens of thousands of hours of labor to make the peregrine falcon a common sight again,” Meshach said. “There is always something to learn about any of our world's birds and animals. Our camera will provide a window into the nesting life of the world's fastest creature.”
According to MDC Director Bob Ziehmer, the cooperative FalconCam will help Missourians discover nature right in the nest of these amazing raptors. “The project illustrates the power of partnerships between private and public sector organizations to help conserve native wildlife,” Ziehmer said.
MDC’s Discover Nature Schools program for Missouri students in grades K-12 is providing related educational materials and activities to the more than 1,000 schools and 230,000 students involved. The program promotes conservation-related curriculum and hands-on learning experiences in nature to help students become life-long conservationists. Falcon-related activities and lesson plans were developed in partnership with the World Bird Sanctuary.
The FalconCam is also helping Ameren Missouri promote conservation.
“Ameren Missouri is proud to once again partner with the World Bird Sanctuary and the Missouri Department of Conservation in sponsoring the falcon nesting box and camera at our Sioux Energy Center,” Michael Moehn, senior vice president, Customer Operations, said. “We take seriously our role as responsible stewards of the environment. The peregrine project has helped reintroduce this raptor to the Mississippi Valley.”
Ameren Missouri and WBS also work together to provide a suitable habitat for songbirds. Nesting boxes have been attached to Ameren Missouri transmission towers and the company has spent more than $300,000 to install nesting boxes, monitor the boxes, and band the baby song birds.
Meshach of WBS added that the peregrine falcon has made an incredible comeback from the brink of extinction. A WBS reintroduction program in the 1980s and early 1990s has placed more than 80 captive-hatched peregrines back into Missouri's wild, and WBS continues to band chicks produced by up to six pairs of wild peregrine falcon parents in the greater St. Louis area each year.
Considered the world’s fastest animal, peregrine falcons have been clocked diving at 261 mph. For more information on peregrine falcons, visit MDC online at

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Celebrate Missouri trees during Arbor Days in April

Trees Work in so many ways for our health, wealth, environment, and happiness.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In the country, suburbs, cities, and all across Missouri, trees and
forests are valuable to our health, wealth, environment, and happiness. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages all Missourians to celebrate the value of Missouri trees and forests on Arbor Days in April by planting native trees and practicing proper tree care.
National Arbor Day is recognized on the last Friday of April, which is April 25 for 2014. Each state determines its Arbor Day based on its unique climate and weather patterns. Missouri has been observing Arbor Day since 1886 when the General Assembly declared that the first Friday in April should be set aside for the appreciation and planting of trees.
This year’s Arbor Day in Missouri has been recognized through a proclamation by Governor Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon as April 4. According to the proclamation: forests cover approximately one-third of the state; provide outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, natural beauty, and watersheds for stream and rivers; provide employment for 33,000 people who convert trees into essential products; contribute beauty and shade to urban, suburban, and rural areas while creating a more pleasant and healthful environment; and Missouri will continue to benefit from its forests for succeeding generations through tree planting and conservation.
In celebration of Arbor Days and in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) “Trees for Tomorrow” program, MDC distributes nearly 100,000 native tree seedlings from its George O. White State Nursery to fourth-grade classes from more than 1,300 schools throughout the state each spring. MoDOT supports the production and distribution of the trees to offset the natural resources it may disturb during construction activities. The seedling distribution supports MDC’s Discover Nature Schools program, which provides grade-appropriate curriculum and outdoor, hand-on activities to help students learn about the importance of conservation.
Get more information from MDC on backyard tree care, including proper tree selection and planting tips, online at


During Arbor Days and every day, MDC’s “Trees Work” public-awareness campaign reminds people how trees work for our wallets, health, families, communities, environment, and economy.
Trees Work for Our Wallets
  • Shade from two large trees on the west side of a house and one on the east side can save up to 30 percent of a typical residence's annual air conditioning costs.
  • Trees placed as windbreaks around buildings can save up to 25 percent on heating costs.
  • Street trees in neighborhoods increase sale prices of houses by an average of $8,870.
Trees Work for Our Health
  • Views of nature assist at the workplace. Employees with views of nature report 15 percent fewer illnesses and feel more enthusiastic and less frustrated than those without.
  • Those who commute along tree-lined roads remain calmer and drive less aggressively than those who drive along less treed roads.
  • Tree-lined streets are more walkable, encouraging more active lifestyles, which decreases obesity and improves heart health.
  • 100-foot plantings of tall trees can reduce noise by 50 percent.
Trees Work for Our Families
  • Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder in children are relieved after spending time in treed areas. Kids can better concentrate, complete tasks, and follow directions after playing in natural settings. Contact with nature helps children develop imagination, creativity, and social relationships.
  • Trees along streets promote physical activity in children and increase longevity of the elderly.
  • One of the most effective means of protecting children from sun damage is to plant shade trees where they play.
Trees Work for Our Communities
  • A 10-percent increase in trees in a neighborhood reduces crime by 12 percent.
  • Trees improve downtowns. People are willing to spend 12 percent more for goods and services in downtowns with trees, and spend more time shopping and come back more frequently.
  • People tend to be more familiar and socialize more with neighbors in neighborhoods with trees.
Trees Work for Our Environment
  • Covering more than one-third of the state, Missouri trees and forests protect soil from erosion and filter water, provide oxygen needed to breathe, and clean the air by trapping and storing pollution.
  • Missouri forests and trees provide habitat for an incredible diversity of plants and animals that could not exist without them, along with a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities and breathtaking scenic beauty.100 mature trees intercept about 100,000 gallons of rainfall per year, reducing runoff and providing cleaner water.
  • The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
  • Missouri’s forests store more than 5 million tons of carbon. Each year, an acre of forest captures between one and four tons of additional carbon.
  • For each pound of new wood that grows, the tree removes about 1.8 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air and produces 1.3 pounds of oxygen.
Trees Work for Our Economy
  • Missouri trees and forests provide lumber and other wood products used around the state and around the world.
  • Missouri’s forest products industry contributes approximately $7.3 billion to the state economy annually, supports 41,200 jobs, and generates $610 million in taxes.
  • Trees along streets in Missouri communities provide $148 million annually in benefits, including energy savings, increases in property values, and storm-water retention.
For more information on how Trees Work, go online to


MDC’s Trees Work public-education campaign is holding a contest encouraging people to finish the phrase “Without Trees...” The winning slogan will be listed on the next poster in the Trees Work series. Simply email “Without Trees...” slogans to by April 30. The winner will also receive a complete set of the “Without Trees...” handcrafted letterpress posters plus 10 extra posters with their slogan to give to family and friends. For more information and to see current posters, visit

Monday, March 24, 2014

Help stop arson wildfires

English: 6/98 -- Forest fires resulted from ex...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Clinton, Mo. – Wildfires that authorities believe were set by arsonists caused damage and danger in Henry and St. Clair counties in recent weeks, said Josh Shroyer, a Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) resource forester based in Clinton. MDC helps community fire departments battle wildfires. In the past week, 20 fires suspected to have been caused by arson have occurred on public and private land near the Harry S Truman Reservoir in Henry County, Shroyer said.
   Authorities ask that citizens report any suspicious activity that could be related to deliberately set fires. Information can be reported anonymously to the Operation Forest Arson hotline: 800-392-1111. Rewards are available for information leading to arrests and convictions of arsonists.
   Wildfire poses danger to people, structures and wildlife habitat. No injuries or structure loss were reported from the recent fires, Shroyer said. But wildfires have the potential to do great harm and battling blazes in forests and fields costs money and puts people at risk.
   “Wildfire risks the lives of fire fighters and the public,” he said.
   Low humidity and windy conditions have heightened wildfire danger in recent weeks. Plus there is ample fuel on wild lands from dead vegetation or shrubs and trees still mostly dormant from winter.
   More than 1,000 acres have burned in the past week, Shroyer said. In 2014, crews have battled about 50 fires in Henry and St. Clair counties that have burned about 3,000 acres in the Truman Reservoir area.
   For more information on the Operation Forest Arson Hotline:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dogwoods, redbuds could bloom early this year

 With anything resembling normal weather, Missouri could see dogwood and redbud
blossoms earlier than usual this year. But all bets are off if the thermometer continues the yo-yo behavior seen over the past month.
Nick Kuhn, forestry field programs supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation, says extremely cold weather can actually cause flowering trees to blossom earlier than they might under more normal conditions.
“Nothing about this year’s weather has been normal so far,” says Kuhn, “but if things take a turn toward more average spring weather, we could start seeing redbud blossoms very soon, and dogwoods not far behind.”
Serviceberry and redbuds typically start blooming in late March. Dogwood flowers typically open in mid-April, though the actual date in any given year can vary by as much as three weeks. Kuhn says he would not be surprised to see dogwoods blooming in early April this year … if the weather remains average or warmer.
“The timing of tree flowering and green-up is affected to some degree by day length,” says Kuhn, “similar to the behavior of many animals. But weather plays a pivotal role, too. Assuming there is no late cold snap, the rapid shift from late extreme cold to unseasonably warm weather is likely to speed up flowering and associated changes in all trees, not just dogwoods and redbuds.”
Kuhn says tree buds and new growth also take on visible colors in the spring. New twigs are not always green. They can be red or orange, depending on species. Swelling buds can also turn attractive reds, oranges, and yellows, adding subtle dimensions to spring colors.
Trees in urban settings normally bloom earlier than those in the wild, due to heat retention by asphalt and concrete. The following routes provide good viewing for those who want to see wild trees in bloom.
  • Highway 19 between Montgomery City and Thayer
  • Highway 5 between Versailles and Gainesville
  • Highway 142 between Doniphan and Bakersfield
  • Highway 72 between Cape Girardeau and Rolla
  • Highway 63 between Columbia and Thayer
  • I-44 between Eureka and Rolla
  • Highway 50 between Eureka and Jefferson City
  • Highway 60 between Poplar Bluff and Springfield
For more information about Missouri’s native, spring-flowering trees, such as flowering dogwood,
Kuhn says accelerated blooming schedules also could shorten the time when spring breezes are laden with tree pollen – great news for allergy sufferers.
According to Kuhn, trees across much of Missouri are well on their way to recovering from the extremely stressful drought and heat of 2012. Missouri received more rain last year, and the summer was not nearly as hot as in 2012.
“If this year’s summer weather is bad I would still only be somewhat concerned for tree health,” he says. “If this year is not bad or even if it goes bad in mid-August or later, trees that went into the summer healthy would get along pretty well.”
He went on to say that landscape trees in parts of the state that experienced drought in both 2012 and 2013 will need supplemental watering well into the summer months to regain their vigor.
“If they made it this long they must be tough, so give them water and mulch, but do not fertilize other than low rate slow-release fertilizer this spring.”
Kuhn cautioned that high-nitrogen fertilizer, which typically is used on lawns, can cause excessively fast growth in trees. This rapid growth often can’t be sustained in hot, dry weather, causing the trees to look poor later in the summer. Regular watering – deep soaking every two weeks – can prevent this.
For more information about caring for trees, visit

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Discover Nature Girls Camp scheduled at SEMO Youth Camp

English: Wappapello Lake, near Wappapello, Mis...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Conservation will offer a Discover Nature Girls Camp in Southeast Missouri July 15-17 at Camp SEMO in Wappapello, MO.  According to the camp organizer, Conservation Agent Christa Cox, this camp is a free, three-day, two-night experience aimed at introducing girls ages 11 to 15 to outdoor skills in a supportive learning environment.  
“Our goal is to lead the girls in outdoor activities so when they leave they’ll have the skills and confidence to explore our diverse landscape on their own and with their families,” Cox said.
Campers will spend three fun-filled days learning by participating in “hands on” outdoor skills, led by conservation professionals.  Some of the planned activities include hunter education, firearms safety and target shooting, archery equipment safety, walking through a safety trail, canoeing, orienteering and fishing. 
“We will go fishing, and we’ll also teach the girls how to identify fish species, how to cast, tie knots and how to clean the fish they catch,” Cox said.
Cox said the Discover Nature Girls Camp is right in line with the Department’s goal to help people discover nature.
“This camp will equip the girls to discover nature on their own for years to come,” Cox said.
To apply for Discover Nature Girls Camp, please contact your local Conservation Agent or the Southeast Regional office in Cape Girardeau at (573) 290-5730 for an application. The camp is limited to 32 girls between the ages of 11 to 15 years old. Applications must be received by May 12.  The first 32 applications will be selected, with all remaining applications placed on a waiting list.  For information on this and other Discover Nature programs, go online to

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Discover nature with MDC through women’s outdoor-skills workshop

Weekend of outdoor fun will teach hands-on outdoor skills. Registration deadline is
April 25.
JEFFERSON CITY Mo -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) invites women to have a weekend of fun while learning various outdoor skills at its annual “Discover Nature--Women Summer Workshop.” The weekend of hands-on learning will be May 30 to June 1 at the Windermere Baptist Conference Center in Roach along Lake of the Ozarks.  Registration deadline is April 25.
The workshop provides a safe and friendly environment where women learn hands-on outdoor-skills at the beginner level by selecting a group of four courses from the following offerings: archery, basic hunting, canoeing, introduction to firearms, plant-animal-tree identification, camping, fishing fundamentals, fly tying, map and compass reading, and shotgun shooting. Women attending for the first time are encouraged to attend the program a second year to complete four additional courses.
The special weekend is targeted to women 18 years and older, along with young women age 14-17 when accompanied by a woman 18 years or older. The workshop is free, but a $20 deposit is required at the time of registration and will be refunded at check in. There is no deposit fee for young women aged 14–17 when registered with an adult.
Participants are responsible for making room and meal reservations directly with Windermere by contacting573-346-5200 or 800-346-2215, or online at Various lodging options are available at the Windermere Conference Center including lodge, motel, cabin, and camping. Accommodation prices will vary with the number of participants per room.
The weekend will begin with lunch on Friday and will end with lunch on Sunday. MDC will provide dinner on Saturday at no cost to participants. Workshop-weekend meal costs through Windermere are $5.50 for breakfast, $7 for lunch, and $8.25 for dinner.
To register, go online to and download the brochure for full course descriptions and registration form. For more information, call 573-522-4115, ext. 3808.
Use or possession of alcoholic beverages or illicit drugs, firearms, and fireworks is forbidden on Windermere property. In compliance with the American Disabilities Act, this program will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate people with special needs. Please include a letter with the registration form describing any special needs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thinking about a timber sale? MDC advises "Call Before You Cut!"

Get professional advice to maximize benefits to wallets, families, and land.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recommends
The Missouri Department of Conservation recommends that landowners considering
 a timber sale “Call Before You Cut” to get professional advic
from an MDC forester (as shown here) or private consulting foresters
 to help landowners maximize benefits to their wallets, families
 and land. 
Call (877) 564-7483, or go online
that landowners considering a timber sale “Call Before You Cut” to get professional advice that can help them maximize benefits to their wallets, families and land.
“This is especially true if they have never had a timber sale before, or are concerned about the long-term health, wildlife habitat, and looks of their forested land,” said MDC Forestry Field Program Supervisor Brian Schweiss. “Through our Call Before You Cut service, landowners can get professional help from MDC foresters and private consulting foresters. It only takes a phone call to (877) 564-7483, or by going online”
Schweiss added that 83 percent of Missouri forests are privately owned and all forests provide important benefits to both those who own them and society in general.
“Forested lands play a vital role in providing clean air, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, forest products and clean water,” Schweiss said. “We work with and for many Missouri landowners to sustain healthy forests. From decades of research, we’ve learned that active forest management enhances the value of privately held woodlands.”
Schweiss offers landowners five reasons to Call Before You Cut:
1. Maximize timber income and save on taxes.
  • The difference between a low bid and high bid on a timber sale is typically substantial. Unaware landowners may take the first offer. A professional forester can assist with marking trees and estimating their value so the landowner knows what is being sold and the potential value. Equally important, professional foresters know what trees should not be cut for future forest benefits.
  • Tax savings may be another benefit. A professional forester can set a value for timber, known as the “basis,” for the year the landowner purchased the property. When selling trees, this basis can be deducted from the volume sold. In addition, sale revenue under the right conditions can be treated as capital gains income rather than ordinary income. Depending on how reported, landowners may be able to save a bit on taxes.
2. Harvest to increase quality, health and value of land.
  • Leaving the right trees is just as important as harvesting the right trees. Proper harvesting should leave trees with future potential. Depending on landowner objectives, these trees have wildlife value, future harvest value, and aesthetic value. Harvesting all good trees and leaving bad ones is referred to as “hi-grading.” When this occurs, a sale may be a “once in a lifetime” event. If the right trees are left, timber sales could occur on the same acres every 10–15 years.
  • Some larger landowners break their properties into different cutting units, have sales semi-annually, and rotate around the property on a set cycle. This provides regular income, encourages faster growth of desired trees, and maintains a healthy forest. Leaving the right trees will also maximize hunting and recreation opportunities.
3. Protect land for future generations.
  • Leaving property to their children is an important objective for many landowners. This legacy could be damaged through one poorly planned timber sale. Hi-grading and other harvests that take all sellable trees do not leave much potential for the next generation.
  • Practices such as forest thinning can help improve growing conditions for preferred species. This forest-stand improvement removes or harvests the worst trees, and provides needed growing space for remaining trees so they remain healthy and grow for a future sale, or wildlife needs.
4. Find the best logger for the job.
  • What sets apart a good logger from a bad logger? How do you ensure that the person harvesting trees on your property will not leave ruts and damaged trees? This concern is shared by many landowners. In Missouri, many loggers have completed the Missouri Forest Products Association’s Professionally Trained Harvester program. This teaches felling and skidding techniques that minimize damage to the forest. Some harvesters go one step further and become “Master Loggers.” These individuals have both completed extensive training, and have demonstrated excellent performance.
  • It is also vital that landowners have a detailed contract that specifies what will be done and not be done with a timber sale. A professional forester can help landowners develop contracts that protect the land and remaining trees from damage, and that specify payment methods for harvested trees.
5. Learn if harvesting is right for the situation.
  • Professional foresters can help landowners determine if the time is right for a timber harvest. Small trees may be harvestable, but may not have reached their full potential value. A nice white oak that is only 16 inches in diameter has value, but may only bring a lower lumber value. This same tree will increase in size and volume over time, and may sell at a higher veneer value at a later date. That is a double benefit for the landowner since they could receive a higher board-foot value, and the tree will have more board feet of volume.
MDC coordinates the “Call Before You Cut” program for Missouri in partnership with the Missouri Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, the U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, and the Missouri Tree Farm Program. The program encourages woodland owners to consult with a professional forester, in conjunction with a professional timber harvester or a master logger, before they make decisions about their forestland.
For more information and to receive a free Call Before You Cut packet, call (877) 564-7483, or go online to

Monday, March 17, 2014

Conservation Commission honors firefighters

Ozark Gateway Fire Chiefs Association recognized with proclamation at Missouri Conservation Commission March meeting in Branson.
BRANSON, Mo. – Wildfire control involves more than putting out fires. Effective fire
suppression involves proactive programs as well as quick reactive measures. In the southwest corner of the state, the Ozark Gateway Fire Chiefs Association has long recognized that educational programs are just as effective fire-fighting tools as water hoses and shovels.
This group, which is comprised 36 fire departments in nine counties in southwest Missouri, was recognized with a proclamation at the Missouri Conservation Commission’s March meeting in Branson on March 7. The proclamation was issued by the Conservation Commission and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Receiving the proclamation were representatives from two of the Association’s initial, and most active members: The Carthage Fire Department, which serves the City of Carthage in Jasper County and the surrounding area, and the Redings Mill Fire Protection District, a 110-square mile area covering parts of Newton and Jasper counties.
Both Carthage and Redings Mill have long been involved in Firewise Communities USA, a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) program co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Natioanl Association of State Foresters. Firewise Communities USA encourages community action that minimizes home loss to wildfire. The Redings Mill Fire Protection District had the first 10 certified Firewise communities in Missouri. The Carthage Fire Department has 12 certified Firewise communities.
Since its formation 30 years ago, the Ozark Gateway Fire Chiefs Association has assisted the Missouri Department of Conservation in wildfire prevention and suppression. The group has also helped develop community wildfire protection plans.