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DU, conservation partners oppose changes to successful conservation system in Missouri

While Ducks Unlimited looks forward to its 75th anniversary later this month, another organization with 75 years of conservation success is facing some major structural changes that could negatively influence its effectiveness: the Missouri Conservation Commission.

Historically, the commission has been run by four commissioners, each representing the entire state. But Senate Joint Resolution 27, introduced by Sen. Munzlinger on Dec. 1, would add four more commissioners and assign each to represent one of Missouri's eight regions mapped out in 2011.

In his testimony on behalf of Ducks Unlimited, Director of Fundraising and Volunteer Relations Troy LaRue remarked on the success of the existing commission. "The structure of [the Missouri Department of Conservation] and its commission has worked extremely well for 75 years—it has stood the test of time and proven itself. Established in our constitution, the four commissioners, balanced by party with staggered terms, have provided the broad-base, inclusive oversight that our state natural resources require, and that represents all citizens extremely well."

DU and other hunting, angling and conservation groups in Missouri worry that this switch from the "forest" perspective to that of the "trees" will negatively impact the commission's ability to sort out conservation issues across the state.

"One just needs to look at our neighboring states to see the problems and issues from regional representation," LaRue said. "That system pits portions of a state against each other, creating division and fragmentation—that's something our precious resources do not need."

DU Regional Vice President and State Public Policy Chair Jim Talbert represented Ducks Unlimited along with LaRue. They are among the many DU staff and volunteers speaking out against SJR 27 and seeking to maintain the Missouri Conservation Commission's existing structure for the next 75 years to come.

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