Category Archives: Conservation

May news 2015

“A time to be born, and a time to die, a time for everything under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes

The death of Leo Drey — St. Louis conservationist who put his money where his mouth was to preserve natural Missouri, who, with a spare staff, invented a new way of forestry which simultaneously improved cast off Ozark acreage, and made a profit from sustainably raised lumber — was not an entire surprise. Mr. Drey was 98, a long life well-lived, including personally seeing to the preservation of a half-dozen state parks, Greer Spring, 150,000 acres (more or less) of remote, steep, hardscrabble woodlands, and finally, giving over those lands and their profits to support conservation projects the old fashioned way.

Leo loved the rivers, and was deeply involved in their conservation, from being a constructive critic of the Ozark National Scenic Rivers to an ardent backer of the Wild and Scenic Rivers system — in Missouri,  management by the U.S. Forest Service, with a focus on more natural recreation with only minimal development for creature comforts. He fought for the Meramec River against its damming, and later the Natural Streams Act — an idea before its time,  where rivers were to be managed as ecosystems, not separate parcels.

This anecdote might illuminate something about Mr.  Drey.  Back in the late 80s, before L-A-D was working closely with St. Louis cavers, a group of perhaps rather naive young people decided they wanted to go caving in the area around Cookstove Cave the next weekend. We were sitting around on a Saturday, and someone said, “Well, shouldn’t we get permission from the landowner? How do we do that?” My husband said, “well, you could call their office on Monday or someone could call Mr. Drey right now.” Eyes widened. “You’ve got his phone number?” “No, but look him up in the phone book.” Someone did, the call was placed and in a 3 minute phone call Leo granted permission and told us that we were welcome as long as we didn’t leave a mess behind, and that he would be interested in hearing back (at the office) with a short written report of how we found the area. The fellow who called was just stunned. “Leo Drey answered his own phone. He actually answered his own phone.” Ok, that might be a corny story. But it’s the truth, and it made a big impression on impressionable young people with an intense interest in conservation.

Part of my Tufa Creek undergrad geochemistry thesis was accomplished on Pioneer Forest land. I’m personally indebted to Drey’s vision to help sharpen my own.

Filling Leo’s boots exactly will never be done, but those of us following in his footsteps now understand the enormity of the task before us.


What is with the war on Conservation?

By Jo Schaper

I could rewrite this, but Steve Schnarr,  Program Manager of Missouri River Relief, a non-profit, environmental NGO based in Columbia, Missouri, says it just as well on his Facebook Page: mdcinchains

“The legislative assault on the Dept. of Conservation continues. The latest bill, Senate Bill 337 being heard tomorrow (April 14), would make it illegal (i.e. punishable by six months in prison) for any non-profit to work with the Mo. Dept. of Conservation. MDC does tons of great work in partnership with many nonprofits, from land management and restoration to education to, yes, river clean-ups. From the language, it seems like it would make Missouri Stream Team illegal. Here’s the definition of “prohibited conduct” – “entering into any contractual relationship with, or providing or receiving anything of value with or without compensation, including but not limited to professional or clerical services, work product, money, personal or real property, or property rights.”

“So in my life, for example, MDC will not be able to bring boats or education booths to clean-ups or the greatly appreciated funding that they provide to help us do what we do. They will not be able to partner with Mo. Prairie Foundation or Ducks Unlimited or Ozark Trail Association or Audubon Society or Missouri River Bird Observatory or Conservation Federation of Missouri or Nature Conservancy. Those kinds of partnerships leverage public and private skill and resources to get real big stuff done. I can’t imagine the purpose behind this bill but it needs to stop.”
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