Monday, August 13, 2018

Conservation Column

         Every Ozarkian who enjoys the outdoors in the Ozarks needs to know some things about The Missouri Department of Conservation.  Much of what you should know has been kept from you, but let’s start with this…  All of us give that department tax money since we all voted in that 1/8-cent sales tax which was to be used as a way of improving and protecting public lands the MDC manages.  You should see much     of that land today! Most all of us felt that it would be a way of making hunting and fishing better and making our fish and wildlife more plentiful.

         Even if you do not ever buy a license of some sort, you give the Missouri Department of Conservation money through most of the things you purchase, food excluded.  If you buy a new car or pick-up for 30,000 dollars, then you give the MDC almost 40 dollars because of that tax.  When you realize the total purchases made by Missourians, you understand why that department operates; through funds we all give them, in amounts of more than 200 million a year.  As if that is not enough, they recently were given 1.8 million more dollars by the federal government for a hog-trapping project.

         Now let me make you aware that before that 1/8 sales tax passed, back in the 1950’’s and 60’s our conservation department was known as the “Missouri Conservation Commission”.  I knew many of their employees back then when I was just a boy, agents Bland Wilson, and Ron Roellig, educational specialists like A.R. Mottesheard, Jim Keefe, Mac Johnson, and Virgil Davis, a man who directed my life’s work when I was in high school.

         In a book to be published soon I will write about these men and others who were devoted to something called ‘conservation’, a word that means ‘wise use’ of natural resources. That old state agency, what they did on a very limited budget, and how they spent their money are worlds apart from the one we have today.

         The Missouri Department of Conservation DID NOT bring back the deer and the wild turkey.  The Missouri Conservation Commission DID.  The present day MDC brought back elk and river otters, and played a big part in the coming of CWD, and in future columns, I will delve into that.  When the deer and wild turkey were stocked and helped to gain a foothold…I WAS THERE.  I saw much of it happen in my youth.

         What I want to do with this column is make sure that at least some of the people in this state are not just fed what the MDC wants them to know.  The Missouri Department of Conservation is a cesspool of corruption right now and that is a statement I can back up easily. That is because I get much of my information from honest employees inside the department. Much of what I know about crooked agents in the department comes from information give to me by honest agents.  And there are many employees who feel just like I do about what is happening, but they can do nothing about it.

         I gain nothing by trying to expose what is going on, but I want simple common Missourians to know the truth… and I will make you a promise that nothing I write here is untrue.  I can back it all up with evidence, and the words of MDC employees and ex-employees who want their stories known.  So each week, right here, I will talk about that.  I am given that opportunity by the new publisher of this newspaper, who is a lady I respect for saying that two sides to this situation needs to be known.  And I want to hear from you whether you agree with what I write or not.  I publish an outdoor magazine where we try to get at the truth.  The MDC hates that and I offer constantly to print their disagreement with any thing in those pages.  But there is zero response.

          One of the other things I offer to do is meet any or many MDC agents, biologists, etc at any venue anywhere to debate what I have written about.  They won’t do it… won’t even discuss it.  In my meeting with Director Sara Pauley I brought this up, proposed to do it anytime.  She wouldn’t even answer that offer.  And so I make it here again.  If what I have written about CWD, about rogue agents, about the millions of our tax dollars they have given away to the wealthiest men in our state is all untrue, meet me some where and show the public those columns I write are all false.

         If you wish to call me, my office number is 417-777-5227.  Much of what I have uncovered concerning the MDC is in back issues of my magazine, The Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal.

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