COLUMBIA – Though the first day of the Summit on the Future of Missouri Outdoors focused on the problems, Friday’s session was all about solutions. During Friday’s brainstorming session attendees discussed issues such as improving the state’s air and water, and getting the public more involved with conservation.
“Your effort does make a difference," said Wallis Warren, conservation director of Ozark Fly Fishers. "You don’t get collective effort without individual effort. Turn your water off, use low-impact sprinklers.”
The vision of the summit was to plan a strategy so that 75 years from now Missouri’s outdoors will be just as much a part of its residents’ lifestyles as it is today or more so.
The day began with a panel session focused on educating the public on the importance of conservation. Panelists suggested schools take more outdoor field trips and work to establish partnerships with outdoor organizations.
The session also focused on the growing diversity of Missouri’s population and what changes conservation departments need to make to encourage every race, gender and ethnicity to get involved.
“Different groups are going to require different approaches,” said John Knudsen of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. “For instance, with an inner city population, the approach is going to be a lot different than the Bowhunters Club.”
Attendees chose between 10 different discussion groups to attend. The groups voted on strategies for improving Missouri’s outdoors. Topics included funding for environmental programs, helping private landowners and promoting citizen input in issues concerning conservation.
After each group presented its plans, the audience used hand-held devices to vote on what they thought were the five most important goals.
The top five goals chosen were increasing public awareness; conserving Missouri’s plants and animals; increasing government funding for conservation; educating friends and family on how to get involved with the outdoors; and developing a state water plan. Increasing public awareness was voted most important.
“Shame on you if you’re not introducing other people to the outdoors, if you’re not sharing what we have with other people, if you’re not talking about it,” Dave Murphy, executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, said to the audience. “Don’t let a conversation end without talking about how important this is.”
Materials from the summit, including footage of the keynote speaker, can be found at the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s Web site, confedmo.org.