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By Tom Westoff
If you love the Missouri outdoors and its wildlife then you need to check out the Conservation Federation of Missouri and consider joining this group of Missouri Citizens with a love for Missouri outdoors. Missouri is fortunate to have an abundance of Natural Resources. We have good populations of wildlife for hunting, beautiful Ozark streams for floating and fishing, well managed forest and prairies, and thousands of acres of ponds and lakes for recreation. Most of us have grown up with these resources and take them for granted, but it was not always this way. In the early 1900’s, our resources were abused and misused. Laws governing fish, forest, and wildlife were in the hands of the legislature. They may have meant well but few of the legislators had any natural resource management and most laws were passed to appease constituents.
Fortunately, a few dedicated conservationists decided they wanted to get conservation out of politics and into the hands of trained professionals. In 1935 they formed the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM). A year later, they succeeded in getting a constitutional amendment passed that resulted in the formation of the Missouri Department of Conservation.
While everyone today has an opinion about how resources should be managed, we have to admit we have it pretty good compared to most other states.
Most people are familiar with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Department of Natural Resources State Parks system but many don’t know about CFM, which was organized in 1935 and is still going strong today. CFM’s mission is to ensure conservation of Missouri’s wildlife and natural resources, and preservation of our state’s rich outdoor heritage through advocacy, education and partnership. CFM is comprised of citizens and not affiliated with any government agency and gets involved with all conservation issue not just hunting and fishing.
Partnerships are critical to CFM’s continued success. There are over 100 affiliated non-government conservation organizations representing about 80,000 people and these organizations are the backbone of CFM. CFM also operates Operation Game Thief and the popular Share the Harvest programs. They also make grant funds available through the Risberg family’s generous donation, which helps affiliates carry out their goals, whether it be education or habitat work.
Education is always important. CFM has a program called Conservation Leadership Corps. This program gives high school junior and seniors as well as college students an opportunity to get involved in conservation. CFM also publishes the Conservation Federation Magazine 6 times per year for each member.
Advocacy is essential and one of CFM’s the most important duties. They monitor and testify in legislative hearings for conservation and natural resources. The Legislative Action Center (LAC) allows members to stay updated on conservation issues and provides an easy way to contact their legislators. Nearly every year, a legislator tries to get conservation back in politicians’ hands by either trying to control MDC or gaining control of MDC’s funding.
Now that you have learned a bit about CFM and what this group does, remember that we all have a connection to the outdoors. Whether it’s hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, biking, hiking, or just sitting in our yards and watching wildlife, we all enjoy some aspect of Missouri wildlife and resources. Becoming a member keeps you informed about Missouri outdoors, its wildlife and all the opportunities that are available to you. A membership makes it easy to stay aware of conservation issues that may have an impact to Missouri outdoor future as well as giving you a voice in those decisions. In closing, membership in CFM helps ensure our natural resources will be here for all to enjoy, now and in the future, so please consider joining this dedicated group of citizens that have a love of the Missouri outdoors by going to www.confedmo.org/join or by calling 573-634-2322.