Week 3: Historical Overview 

Week 3: Historical Overview of Conservation in Missouri

By Heather

Tonight Linda did some housekeeping with us.  She went over the Yahoo! Groups page to include the calendar and listed events, how to send messages and basic information necessary to navigate through the page.  She also took our pictures prior to the start of class time.  Of course I was thrilled to get my picture taken because I have had bad allergies leading up to a sinus infection; it will be interesting to see how it turns out! ;-)

Mallory, a fellow classmate, opened with the essay discussion from The Sand County Almanac.  The section was named Conservation Esthetic and discusses man’s desire to get into nature and asks the dubious question of, at what cost?  

Leopold writes, “…when the railroads which had banished the countryside from the city began to carry city-dwellers en masse, to the country side.”  He continues in the next paragraph, “The automobile has spread this once mild and local predicament to the outermost limits of good roads-it has made scarce in the hinterlands something once abundant on the back forty…Like ions shot from the sun, the week-enders radiate from every town, generating heat and friction as they go.”

This essay reveals to us the dichotomy every naturalist, environmentalist and quite possibly every scientist thinks about.  How do we balance visitation with conservation?  How do we balance animal population with hunting and fishing?  When asked or sometimes confronted about my thoughts on hunting and fishing I always said I believed in conservation as well as a healthy harvest.  This particular essay spurred my thoughts and made me think about why I stated my answer as I did.

Native Baby Save the Planet

My response was based on scientific survey. When I was up north and still married to my now ex-husband, we lived on an Indian Reservation.  We used his hunting and fishing rights to provide for us year round.  Deer season we stocked up on venison and spearing season we did the same but with walleye and Muskie.  The Department of Natural Resources conducted fish counts every year and determined what type of fish and how many could be harvested in each lake by the tribe.  We then bid for certain lakes in a non-monetary way and were subjected to fish counts when we returned from any spearing expedition.  There was always a conservation officer at the docks where we were required to launch from.  The non-Natives in Wisconsin were outraged because it would appear or sound like a lot of fish were harvested.  But DNR reports and surveys clearly showed “sportsman” fishing the same area took three times as many fish as tribal members did in any season.

When I think about this specific situation I see how Leopold wrote what he did.

“It has also an ethical aspect.  In the scramble for unspoiled places, codes and decalogues evolve.  We hear of ‘outdoor manners.’  We indoctrinate youth.  We print definitions of ‘What is a sportsman?’ and hang a copy on the wall of whosoever will pay a dollar for the propagating of the faith.  It is clear, though that these economic and ethical manifestations are results, not causes, of the motive force.  We seek contacts with nature because we derive pleasure from them.”

If those that flock to these natural areas go for the sheer pleasure derived from nature then fill up their SUVs, litter, produce large amounts of garbage or not feel climate change is human induced then their love is lackluster.  Modern conveniences then outweigh the inconvenient truth of it.  This thought then makes me look at my own life and see where small changes over time can equal less pressure on our natural world.  Leopold mentions “outdoor manners” probably not realizing how significant the need for those manners has evolved.  Regardless, we need to find a balance, which I believe some of us are trying to do.  But it will always be necessary to constantly contemplate, discuss and survey in hopes of bridging this dichotomy.

Class 3 Stacy pic sm

After our essay discussion and break time we met in the amphitheater.  By the way, whoever brought those lemon bars…kudos!  They were scrumptious and heard others say similar!  Stacy had us partner up and play a game where we matched conservation history cards with the decades that the conservation event happened.  Not only was this enjoyable because of partnering with someone I didn’t know but we got to watch the hummingbirds while playing.  I was amazed at some of the early conservation starts like the Grand Canyon National Monument was established in 1908 and some reintroduction projects that more recently started.  For example, the Great Prairie Chicken reintroduction project began in 2008 and Elk reintroduction into Missouri in 2011.  I think Elk are fascinating and might have to plan a trip to go photograph some.

Class 3 students sm

I cannot believe this Tuesday is our fourth class.  The last Saturday of August is the first field trip for Forest Management.  Stacy is letting us sign up for ones that still have slots open.  I am hoping I can get in on all of them!  If I do, I will share those trips with you, my fellow readers.

This upcoming class is on botany basics with Lala Kumar.  I am looking forward to this class!  I love plants and never had an opportunity to fit a botany class in my college semesters.

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