Missouri Conservation Keeps Water Wild

Growing up in central Missouri, I spent my best days outside making memories I’ll never forget, and learning lessons that shaped the way I see the world.  I’ve always found water fascinating – especially water that seems to move on its own volition.  As a child, I loved tracing the path of rainwater, coursing its way through rivulets, curbsides and valleys before reaching the creek that ran through our neighborhood park.  Once, I even hiked up the storm sewer pipe to see where it went … sometimes I wonder how I’ve survived this long.  While I cannot encourage unsupervised exploration of municipal effluent infrastructure, I urge everyone, at any age, to get out and explore a stream.

Walk softly and look for signs of wildlife.  Missouri’s diverse geographies and native plant species create habitats for thousands of interesting and integral wildlife species whose lives depend on us, and on whom we also rely.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) manages more than 1,000 conservation areas across the state, and most feature some sort of water attraction.  Conservation areas make great places to explore how wildlife interacts with water, how water impacts geography, and how model land-use practices can benefit all of the above.  Find places to go as close to, or as far from your home as you wish.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Spring Creek

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See this tributary of the Chariton River from within Shoemaker Conservation Area in Adair County, or explore its headwaters at Union Ridge Conservation Area in Sullivan and Adair counties.

Three Creeks

Mila and Jack show how to get water, food, shelter and fire in order to survive the zombie apocalypse for Xplor.

Turkey, Bass and Bonne Femme creeks converge at Three Creeks Conservation Area, offering plenty of trails, gravel bars and superb forest and karst topography in Boone County.

Great Rivers

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The Mississippi and Missouri rivers provide great access to two of the largest rivers in North America.  The original superhighways, by which American Indians transported goods and traversed our vast continent, Missouri’s great rivers hold immense history, and many opportunities for both recreation and education.  Use MDC access areas to launch boats and to enjoy wilderness in places like Ted Shanks Conservation Area along the Mississippi River near Louisiana, Mo.

The American Recreation Coalition has declared June, “Great Outdoors Month” – as if we needed more than the allure of late-spring turning to summer, replete with fireflies, warm weather and lush vegetation to get us outside.  But here we have it, another reason to get out, discover nature and appreciate what generations of Missourians before us have worked tirelessly to protect.  Remember, if you pack it in, pack it out; always leave nature cleaner than you found it and enjoy Missouri’s great water resources safely, and with respect for your environment.

Written by Robert Hemmelgarn, media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, who loves to canoe, camp, fish, and photograph Missouri’s waterways. 

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