Citizens often wonder how their voice can be heard when it comes to helping set the direction of conservation and natural resource management in Missouri. The best answer I know of is to become an active member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM).
Of course, I work for the Conservation Federation, so my opinion of the importance of this non-profit is biased. But the history of this organization, and all the monumental efforts it has spearheaded, speaks for itself. CFM is responsible for the creation of the Conservation Commission through a ballot initiative back in 1936. CFM was also instrumental in the passage of the Conservation Sales Tax in 1976, led efforts to save the Meramec River from being damned, worked to return elk to their native Ozark habitat and has played a key role each time the Parks, Soils and Water Sales Tax has been passed by voters. All of these accomplishments are the result of citizens working together for a better Missouri.
Next weekend, March 9-11, the Conservation Federation is hosting its 82nd annual convention at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City. On Friday, the Federation will honor award recipients and scholarship winners. Awards are given to individuals and organizations whose outstanding work continues to provide benefit for the future of our state’s natural resources. Just to name a few of those being honored this year; Mervin Wallace is the Conservationist of the Year for his work with wildflowers and native habitats, Senator Mike Kehoe and Representative Tommie Pierson Jr. are the CFM Legislators of the Year, and Doug Ladd is being recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Many more well-deserving individuals will be awarded for their work with wildlife, fisheries and ecology during the awards ceremony.
On Saturday morning, 10 different Resource Action Committees (RAC) meet to discuss issues relevant to the specific nature of the committee. This is where citizens can dig in with other individuals concerned with the same topic, and can meet with federal and state agency experts to discuss specific topics. The resources committees are: Archery and Shooting Sports; Big Game, Turkey, and Furbearers; Education and Outdoor Recreation; Environment and Ecology, Forest Resources and Management, Grassland and Prairies, Public and Private Lands; Rivers, Streams, and Fisheries; Upland Wildlife; and Wetlands and Waterfowl. If you are passionate about one or more of these topics, then come engage with these committees and help bring citizen perspective to how Missouri manages these aspects of conservation.
At each convention, CFM creates organization policy through the passage of resolutions. Pre-filed resolutions for 2018 may be viewed on the CFM website. These resolutions will be discussed and reviewed Saturday morning by the committees before moving to the Resolution Committee. The resolutions will then go to the General Assembly for a final vote on Sunday.
The Saturday night banquet and auction is always a great time. There are hundreds of items available for purchase through live and silent auctions, and prizes to be won through raffles and drawings. Attendees of the banquet are in for a special treat this year. Nationally respected conservation writer, Hal Herring, is making the trip all the way from northwest Montana to share some of his hard-earned insights on conservation.
Herring is a contributing editor at Field and Stream magazine, where he has covered everything from bear poaching gangs to caviar crime rings, wetlands destruction to energy politics. Hal also writes the Field and Stream Conservationist blog found on their website. His byline has appeared in such prestigious publications as Atlantic Monthly, the Economist, Bugle, Nature, High Country News and more.
“I’ve been able to explore the issues and the ideas and conflicts that fascinate me, from hundreds of articles on conservation and the environment, to writing about guns, shooting, hunting, martial arts, and crime,” Herring said. “I look forward to sharing some of these stories with folks at the Federation banquet.”
For more information about the 82nd Annual Convention of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, and to register, visit the Conservation Federation website at www.confedmo.org
See you down the trail…