A month or so ago, several people were on facebook moaning about what our Ozark rivers have become. So I gave them an invitation to do something about it rather than talking about it. Our big outdoorsman’s swap meet is the fourth Saturday in March, at Brighton, Mo, north of Springfield. There in that big church gymnasium after the swap meet, at 2 p.m. I am going to meet with people who want to do something positive about our rivers. I put that on facebook and never heard from even one of the people who had been involved in the discussion.
On the Pomme de Terre river near my home, a rancher friend of mine by the name of Jim Hacker put concerns about the river into action. Working with a young woman from the local Soil Conservation office, Jim fenced off about 2 miles of his land next to the river, and planted in in native grasses and trees. That strip, likely a hundred yards wide, keeps his cattle a long way from the river. They water at automated water systems which are fed by drilled wells In that bottom, those wells do not have to be very deep. He did this years ago and already you find all kinds of bird and mammal species living in that section between the river and the cattle-restraining fence, and you won’t find any erosion in his banks. He had enough money to pay for all the work, and then when it was inspected by the SCS, they paid him back for what he had spent.
What I want to do in March is have Jim and the SCS representative meet with that group of river conservationists on the river to show what the two of them accomplished and give details of how it could be done with river bottom owners now. I can’t do it by myself, but alone I have talked to owners along the river who would love to do what Hacker has done. I think if I could put together a group of 25 people who would help me, we could perhaps show the Conservation Department how to really make a difference on our rivers with the millions they have available. About a year ago I had a three hour meeting with MDC director Sara Pauley. We had agreed on the phone to find ways to work together on some conservation problems, and one of them concerned this approach with river bottom landowners, trying to mirror what Jim Hacker had done. My part of the agreement was to work with MDC biologists to show what they were doing in the field. In the winter edition of my magazine I am publishing the results of my promise to work with the MDC, by showing the hours I spent with a biologist, and giving his attempt to improve wildlife numbers in print and photos. In return, there has been no contact since with Mrs. Pauley. She just seemed to forget what we had agreed on. I guess I am going to have to show her what we could have done.
So if you want to talk about the problems on our rivers, then talk. Send messages on facebook and read studies and wring your hands. But if you want to be a part of an attempt to find solutions and take a small step in changing things, a small step that can grow and make a difference in our Ozark rivers, then contact me and tell me you will come to that meeting in March.