Short-eared owl hikeplanned on Feb. 15

The hike planned for Feb. 15 by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Ozark Gateway Audubon Society has been changed from Providence Prairie to the Shawnee Trail Conservation Area in Barton County. Those who want to attend should meet at 3:30 p.m. at the MDC office at Seventh Street and Illinois Avenue in Joplin. They will carpool from there.

The group will be looking for short-eared owls.

"They're a fantastic winter resident and we have a good chance of seeing 20 or 30 of them. They actually flock in the wintertime," said Jeff Cantrell, naturalist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. "There is nothing like having short-eared owls in the air actually barking at you. Short-eared owls actually bark."

President Bush offersmore refuge spending

Interior Secretary Gale Norton recently promoted President Bush's proposal to boost spending on national refuges, but she was met with opposition from environmentalists.

Bush's $402 million budget proposal for the nation's 540 refuges for 2004 includes a $25.5 million increase, following up the $56.5 million increase he sought for the current year, Norton said. Congress must still approve the proposal.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the refuge system, begun by President Teddy Roosevelt.

A handful of environmentalists protested during Norton's tour of the refuge, some holding up signs reading "Preserve the Arctic," a reference to Bush's longtime advocacy for oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Supporter of AGFCdies in Arkansas

Charlie Craig, of Rogers, Ark., and longtime supporter of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, died recently at the age of 98.

He was instrumental in the development of the Centerton Hatchery, when he purchased the land that the hatchery is currently located on, then donated it to the state. Craig was also a key player in helping to get the 1/8th-cent conservation sales tax passed by rallying support for it in Northwest Arkansas.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Craig built his insurance business, operated a theater, published guides to the White River and officiated high school and collegiate sports.

A member of the Bella Vista Fly Tyers, Craig in 1993 led the club's Operation Appreciation, a unique effort to give something back to the Commission for the years of free hunting and fishing licenses the over-65 crowd of Arkansans have enjoyed. The drive raised more than $25,000 in small donations from persons all over the state and even some living in other states.

Pond managementworkshop planned

LAMAR, Mo.-There will be a workshop on pond management from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the University of Missouri Extension Center in Lamar. The workshop is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Barton County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The workshop will cover topics such as pond maintenance, dry hydrants, fish stocking, fish management, aquatic plant management and fish kills.

The workshop is free but pre-registration is required. To register, or for more information, call the Barton County Soil and Water Conservation District at 682-3571, ext. 3.

Bluebird classbeing held today

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-"Bluebird basics" is a class that will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. today at the Missouri Department of Conservation Nature Center in Springfield.

The class will cover information needed to have bluebirds nesting on your property. This program is intended for rural and suburban residents only. (Bluebirds don't like to live "in town.")

Registration required. Call 888-4237.

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