I thought about this letter years ago, to Bass Pro Shop's owner, Johnny Morris. But knew if I sent it, the letter would be tossed in a waste can in the Bass Pro Shop's office and never read. I believe by including it in whatever newspapers will print it, there may be a chance that someone will listen, and some things can finally be done in the Ozarks that are badly needed.
Dear Mr. Morris… Not long ago it was reported on a local television station that you have become one of the richest men in our country, and I saw the big pyramid version of Bass Pro Shop in Tennessee which some say cost a billion dollars. Quite a place.
Remember the 2.5 million dollars the Missouri Department of Conservation gave you a few years ago. It looked a little fishy at the time because right after he helped you get that gift, the MDC director who orchestrated it went to work for your company. I always wondered how your company kept the news media from writing or broadcasting one word of that!
I think it is time you return that money to the common folks of Missouri from whom the Missouri Department of Conservation draws tax and license money… the hunters and fishermen of our state who are not the elite people you hunt and fish with, but folks who live week to week with a paycheck that may not allow them to do as much hunting and fishing and enjoying of the outdoors as they would like.
As for how the two and a half million might be best used for all citizens, I have a couple of proposals for you that I hope you will at least consider. With this letter I am enclosing two of my columns. One talks about the constant decline of our rivers.
We can do some repair and preservation, and do so much with landowners along the stream, but no one will do it. The MDC, operating on 200 million or so each year, doesn’t have the money to work with landowners to get cattle out of the river or repair badly eroded banks. They need to put their money into things that help the little people of our state, like stocking elk and arranging out of state trips on their airplanes for commissioners.
With your 2.5 million, I can get miles and miles of the Niangua, the Pomme De Terre and other streams, repaired so that the eddies stop filling in, and in turn create new fish habitat and spawning water.
And with only a small part of that two and a half million bucks we all gave you, I think I could set up some of the greatest quail and pheasant hunting anyone could find, on public ground around Truman Lake, where thousands of acres now sitting in cockleburs, pretty much devoid of the covey’s that once were found there, could likely host thousands of hunters year.
Please see my recent article about a place called Ozark Wings, owned by an ex-state senator by the name of Chuck Purgason. His operation on only a thousand acres is actually restocking breeding coveys of quail and providing hunting of game birds which duplicate the hunting of wild birds. And you know what, it doesn’t take millions of dollars! It only involves three employees!! Isn’t that remarkable? And it gives common low-income sportsmen a place to hunt. Anyone can afford it. Even those who don’t hunt could enjoy it, for hiking, photography and enjoying nature. Such a place would increase songbirds and other wild birds by ten times.
If we could figure out a way for the MDC to make money out of such a place on Truman, by selling some inflated quail and pheasant permits, I think they’d be interested.
It is hard for them to afford such a thing without your help, what with their important projects like building private waterfowl marshes for a group of lawyers on the Sac River, or working for days and days to remove wild hogs from land you own via helicopter, like they did a year or so back.
I understand how important it is for you to build the best golf course in the world, and I know that you do not often meet with common folks like me, but how about it, couldn’t you set aside a day to let me show you how much that two and a half million could do for these two projects and other conservation projects in our state.
I am sure that two and a half million dollars is a drop in the bucket for you, and the projects could some day bear your name, or maybe the name of that MDC director who helped you get the money and then went to work for you. I am sure he’d like that.
Mr. Morris, as satirical as this letter may sound, I am serious as a heart attack. You and I could make so many good things happen with amounts that pale in comparison to the cost of your Tennessee pyramid or the Ozark golf course. And I will do it for nothing… I don’t want a cent for my time, from anyone.
Would you please meet with me and let me show you what conservation really is and some marvelous things we could do. It will take only one day…just one.
I envision the time some day when you could buy some of the big timber on our public MDC managed land so they could stop butchering those lands to make more money, contracting private loggers. Wouldn’t it be great if a hundred years from now folks could enjoy some of those big forestlands? Wouldn’t it be great if we could leave some big timber standing for the people of Missouri to enjoy? The way things are now, it won’t happen. The Missouri Department of ‘Conservation’ (notice that word conservation in their name) will take them all in time for the dollars it makes them… They look at those trees and speak in terms of “billions of board feet of lumber.”
There are great things you can do with those millions we all gave you for that museum, and I want to show you that. Isn’t it ironic that so many Missourians who made it possible to give you that two and a half million dollars have to pay the exact same amount to visit your museum as someone from New York or California?
I appreciate you reading this letter. Please just give me one day to take you out and show you what can be done for common ordinary people in the name of conservation.
Respectfully, Larry Dablemont