I met with the director of the Missouri Department of Conservation last week in his office. Robert Ziehmer, born and raised in California, MO, has only been on the job for about a year, and it was the first time I had talked with him. Beside him was an assistant director, Tom Draper, and with the two of them I discussed the following things:
1. Letting folks in the county where logging operations are going to be taking place know what is about to happen, so that those of us who own our state conservation areas can have a say if we oppose the devastation that will be done there.
2. Letting us form a small group of conservation leaders from the Ozarks who can gain access to the director in his office on occasion to discuss concerns of all of us in our Common Sense Conservationist organization who are disturbed about the waste of money within the department, the actions of conservation agents who are breaking the law with illegal entry without search warrants, and the management of the conservation areas all of us have paid for and own.
3. Allowing groups like taxidermists to meet with department officials to have regulations and laws changed which govern their profession in an unfair manner.
4. Participating in our Common Sense Conservationist website by giving their reasons for what is being done, and answering questions from those of us who see things we believe need to be questioned.
I can’t say I am encouraged because I am not. When you talk to Draper about things like the taking of private land around a wildlife management area that was given to them as a donation, through a survey they conducted without even notifying landowners they were trying to take land from, he defends it as something they are doing for all of us. He defends logging operations of any type, anywhere, though they take some of the prettiest most natural areas of the Ozarks and turn them into blighted ugly areas for decades, just for the money it gives them, through private logging companies which seem to have an inside track with the MDC.
You can see they are hesitant to say they ever make mistakes. It is the same thing we run into talking with the Chief of Enforcement about agents who break the law and seem to bully innocent people. For a year after meeting with that branch of the MDC, we never saw one ounce of progress, never an admission that any agent ever once did anything wrong, despite obvious evidence to the contrary.
Nevertheless, I got the assurance from Mr. Ziehmer that he wanted to work with us, and that he was interested in seeing some of the management areas and logging operations we are upset about, and that he would look into the possibility that his agency could help landowners along our streams to control erosion. Now we will see if we can actually get it to happen.
Our Common Sense Conservationist organization has more than a thousand members now and we would like to double or triple that this year. If you want to start a chapter in your area, you should contact me. If you want to see changes, then help make it happen. One thing we are doing is raising money so that some cases can be heard in court. Innocent people charged with some silly technical violation seldom have the money to go to court, as lawyer fees far exceed the $200 to $400 fines. Just look at our website, commonsenseconservationist.org.
I just learned that Kyle Carroll will be at our big outdoorsman’s swap-meet, art show and CSC convention held here in Bolivar on Oct. 12. Carroll was an honest conservation agent who was fired a few years ago by the MDC for reporting another agent who was breaking the law. Carroll sued the Conservation Department for a million dollars and won. Today he is a Missouri Highway Patrol officer, but he is also a talented artist who will be sitting up next to our booth and displaying his art. I hear it is outstanding work. He won’t be giving any speeches, but if you would like, you can talk to him about what happened when he reported another agent to his superiors for violating the law.
What disturbs me most about what is happening with MDC agents is the entering of homes without search warrants, and if you don’t believe it is happening, you have your head stuck in the sand. At our get-together in October, you can talk with those who have had their home entered illegally and see what they think.
I wrote about the forest fires out west a couple of weeks ago, and found that some newspapers, not all, chose not to use what I wrote because they felt it was too political. You can read all of it on my website, www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com. After writing it, I noticed on a television report that California officials feel the Yosemite fire was started by illegal Mexican immigrants who are known to be growing tracts of marijuana inside those remote mountain forest areas. They are thought to be part of a growing Mexican drug cartel and they escaped back to Mexico.
In 1942, the only bombs ever dropped on the United States by an enemy combatant fell in California. Two or three Japanese warplanes dropped incendiary bombs in strategic areas of heavy forest trying to set fires. The bombs did indeed fall where they were intended, but the wet conditions of the forests prevented the fires from growing. So maybe my assumption that terrorists will use fires against our country isn’t so far from wrong. Anyway, for some reason it can’t be talked about in some parts of the media, perhaps because of the fear that it will cause jihadists to decide to try it. But they already claim responsibility for one large, costly western fire, so I think they already have realized how to do it. I hope that what I have just written won’t be taken as too political, but the forests of our nation do fall under the heading of “outdoors”.
This coming Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15, we will get together to plan our Oct. 12 Big Outdoor Event, which will include a swap meet and an outdoor artists and craftsmen show. We need help with this, so if you will volunteer, come to our planning meeting at the Countryside Assembly of God church at the western outskirts of Bolivar. If you have an interest in helping set up a Common Sense Conservationist group in your area, please come and join us that afternoon at 2 p.m. The address of the church is 2921 S. Morrisville Road.
I really hope this event gives some attention to some of the young artists around the Ozarks who do outstanding work. The whole thing is free, no one has to pay to attend or set up a table. You are going to see some of the best wildlife and country art you have ever looked at and you can buy some of it for your home or office.
We have printed a thousand flyers about this event. If you would like one for your own information, write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, MO 65613 and we will send it. If you want several, to put up in your community, just let us know.
For information on anything, you can call our office, 417-777-5227. My executive secretary, Ms. Wiggins, likes to hear from folks, as she often gets bored. We work way out here in the woods and she gets lonely.
My radio program is easily listened to on a computer, www.radiospringfield.com, every Sunday morning at 8:06. The channel is KWTO 560 AM.