Missouri's Wetlands - Undervalued in Beauty and Use
By Garrett Frandson, Monitoring and Assessment Unit
Are you familiar with the beauty of Missouri’s wetlands? These are environments where water is at the soil’s surface for at least part of the year, like swamps or fens. A common historical perception has been that wetlands are nuisances better off drained; Missouri alone has lost over three million acres of them since European settlement. Even today, many surviving wetlands are unprotected because their benefits are not fully appreciated. We know, however, that wetlands are valuable for all sorts of organisms, including people, in Missouri and beyond because they provide water resource protections, great habitat, and recreational opportunities.
Wetlands are great for improving water quality. Often found near larger streams, wetlands can slow and absorb large volumes of floodwater, help recharge groundwater, and encourage pollutants in water to settle out, acting as filtering sponges. The water they keep is often full of organic material that helps sustain wetland food webs. Without wetlands, these same functions would cost millions of dollars annually to technologically achieve. But access to healthy water is not a uniquely human issue!
Wetlands, with their diversity of soil, water, and chemical conditions, are home to a similar diversity of organisms. Many, like buttonbush and Hine’s emerald dragonfly, are found almost exclusively in these environments! Wetlands isolated from streams or large ponds are crucial habitat for bugs, amphibians, and others who would otherwise be fish food. Missouri’s place in the Mississippi Flyway makes our wetlands a favorite spot for migrating and overwintering birds. Even black bears can be found in wetlands! These environments provide excellent habitat, food, and protection to all sorts of life.
People also benefit from much of what wetlands offer. In addition to boosting the health of other waters, wetlands provide us with an abundance of recreational opportunities. Whether you like to watch birds, search for rare plants, paddle, or fish or hunt, wetlands are a great place to go. Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in the southeast is home to some of the largest bottomland forest, where swamps, marshes, and more abound. Further north, some of the largest original prairie wetlands can be found in Marmaton River Bottoms Prairie Wetland.
Wherever you go, from the northern plains, through the deepest Ozark hollers, and into the Bootheel, you may encounter a diversity of wetlands and organisms who call them home, each unique expressions of how Missouri’s nature may flourish. The more one knows, the more one appreciates about wetlands, and the more these crucial ecosystems may persist and return to healthier states.
Interested in writing a feature article? Email StreamTeam@mdc.mo.gov.
Welcome into a New Role, Brian Waldrop
A note from Brian about his background and new position:
Hey there! My name is Brian Waldrop, I was born and raised in Flamm City and grew up playing in the woods and streams along the Meramec River, where I still reside on family land with my lady (Ms. Wright) and two fur-sons. I was taught to respect the land by my grandparents.
After the Great Flood of 1993, I joined cleanups to remove the debris and continued this volunteering before I knew about Stream Team. Once I learned about the program, I immediately saw its value. As co-chair of The Mighty 211, I learned many skills for running all types of clean-up events, and proudly became Level 3 Water Quality certified.
My passion for the water also led me to earn my Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Missouri. I've been working on a Master’s in Aquatic Entomology from the University of Guyana in South America.
For the past 3,738 days, I have proudly served as the Stream Team Assistant for the St. Louis area. I have learned from my fellow MDC team and the amazing network of volunteers. I will bring these lessons to my new role to strengthen the Stream Team Program and better serve all the dedicated volunteers. I know the power of volunteers and am honored to continue on with this work.
Updated Program Contacts
We have some fresh faces in the Stream Team Program, and will be gaining two new team members over the next few months. Brian Waldrop is now added below in the red section. If you are wondering who to contact for help, look no further!
Save the Dates
Watershed Celebration 2023 - July 22, 2023
Join us for the 27th annual Watershed Celebration Picnic at Meramec State Park on July 22nd! This event is hosted by Stream Teams United and Missouri Stream Team Associations to celebrate YOU!
• Free Lunch
• Stream Team Awards
• Learning Stations
• Watershed Bingo
• Raffle including kayak and many more prizes
• Free Stream Team camping at Group Site C on July 21st and July 22nd at Meramec State Park. Check with park for camping info.
PaddleMO 2023! - September 23-27, 2023
Join Stream Teams United with on-water guides Bill and Jody Miles of Earth’s Classroom for fun-filled and educational river excursions. Register for the Missouri River trip in September or the Current River trip in October through PaddleMO.org. Weekend, 3-day, and full 5-day options are available.
Calendar of Events
Wondering how to get started with your new team? Check out our Calendar of Events.
Need help advertising your event? Or struggling to recruit volunteers for a clean-up? We are here to help! Submit a request to advertise through our website calendar, or send an email to StreamTeam@mdc.mo.gov to request an ad through a StreamGram or Facebook post.
3rd Quarter Activity Prize Drawing
3rd Quarter Prizes:
Arctic Zone Cooler (Blue)
Pelican Colorado Canoe
Thermos Backpack Bottle
Strange but True Book by Missouri Department of Conservation
Fill out an Activity Report for your past or upcoming events, and you could win a prize next quarter!
Equipment Orders Slower than a Stream Run in August
By April Sevy, Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator
Water quality monitors may have noticed it’s taking longer than expected to get equipment or they have only received part of their order. Biological and stream discharge equipment are shipped directly from Missouri Department of Conservation, while the chemical monitoring equipment comes from two different vendors. Our chemical equipment vendors are experiencing shortages which means back-ordered equipment for monitors. As of June, dissolved oxygen kits and nitrate tablet test kits are the equipment taking the longest to get to volunteers. Please continue to place your orders, but it could take a month or longer to receive all equipment. We understand this affects monitoring schedules and the type of data collected at your next monitoring trip. Using the stream appropriate motto of Go with Flow, collect the data you can with the equipment and (non-expired) reagents that you have. If you have ordered equipment and would like a status update, please contact us at StreamTeam@mdc.mo.gov.
Since our last issue of Channels, Stream Team members reported:
Check out more highlights below . . .
Team 1 – Mark Van Patten of ST#1 helped teach students about water quality as a ranger for Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
Team 6469 – To celebrate World Oceans Day, ST#6469, SEA LIFE Aquarium, collected 8 bags of trash in the Blue River Watershed and assisted Kansas City Parks with honeysuckle removal!
Team 674 – The 15th Annual Upper Current River Clean-Up, hosted by ST#674, the Scenic Rivers Stream Team Association, where they pulled out tons of trash and even rescued some kayakers!
Team 3745 – ST#3745, River des Peres Watershed Association, hosted their Bike With Your Boots On & Storm Drain Stenciling event on June 10th to monitor water quality along the River des Peres with 9 participants.
The 100 Club
These are individuals that have contributed more than 100 hours since the last issue:
Uniting Stream Teams at the Missouri State Capitol
By Mary Culler, Stream Teams United Executive Director
As the coalition of Missouri Stream Team Associations, one role of Stream Teams United is to help lead advocacy for rivers, streams, and water resources within Missouri. Each year, we track legislation proposed by our state representatives and senators at the Missouri State Capitol. This year’s regular session, the 102nd General Assembly of the Missouri State Legislature, began on January 4th and adjourned on May 12th. During that time, Stream Teams United reviewed the topics of over 2,300 proposed bills and resolutions to determine if they were of interest to the environmental community. Of these 2,300 proposed bills and resolutions, we determined that 200 of these bills were related to environmental issues. We then tracked the progress of these bills and provided weekly updates to the Missouri Stream Team community through our Legislative Lookout website and our Friday e-bulletins and social media posts, which provide a weekly update of upcoming public hearings and opportunities to testify on proposed legislation.
During Earth Week, we hosted the 3rd annual Clean Water Day at the Missouri State Capitol. This is an opportunity for Missouri Stream Teams and the people and organizations who work for clean water in our state to interact with state legislators and provide information about our state’s water resources and the actions needed to protect our waterways. During Clean Water Day, Stream Teams United also recognizes senators and representatives who sponsor positive legislation for clean water and freshwater ecosystems with a Letter of Recognition. This year’s participating organizations included the Big Piney River Stream Team Association, the River des Peres Watershed Coalition, Missouri River Bird Observatory, the Missouri Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, and the Missouri Rural Water Association. Stream Teams United is currently working on next year’s day at the Capitol, and invite you to join us next year – we will be sending out a “Save the Date” later this fall.
Stream Teams United presents a Letter of Recognition to Representative Ingrid Burnett for her sponsorship of bills that would repeal the state prohibition of local governments regulating paper and plastic bags in their community.
Of the 200 bills and resolutions we tracked this spring, only 17 of them “crossed over” from one chamber of the legislature to the other, and two bills, SB109, and HB802, were passed and have been delivered to the Governor for his signature. SB109 (see the full bill) morphed during the latter part of the session to become an environmental omnibus bill, including parts of several other bills, including provisions to extend fees for programs at the Department of Natural Resources and create the "Flood Resiliency Act" and the "Flood Resiliency Program" for the purpose of increasing flood resiliency along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries. HB802 (see the full bill), related to the conveyance of state property, became a combination of several other bills related to state property, but no properties that were of substantial concern.
Members of the Missouri Chapter of the American Fisheries Society provided information about Missouri’s freshwater species at the 2023 Clean Water Day at the Capitol.
Stream Teams United has a committee of Stream Team volunteers who are interested in advocacy efforts. If you are interested in participating more with advocacy, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-586-0747.
July is the month to renew Stream Team/Great Rivers State license plates! The $25 donation per year for a custom plate helps fund our annual advocacy program. If you don’t have a Great Rivers State plate yet, find out how to get one, or renew your plate before the end of July. Also, this year, we are beginning our annual Paddle MO educational river adventure in Jefferson City, in our first Capitol to Capitol trip Sept. 23-27th. The trip is about 2/3 full, so register soon! Paddle MO trips help bring river enthusiasts together for a fun, multi-day adventure, but also serve to build the community of river stewards and advocates in Missouri.
Water Quality Data Stars of 2022
By Tabitha Gatts, Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Coordinator
2022 Data Stars!
Congratulations to the 2022 Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring (VWQM) Data Star award winners!
We are celebrating folks who were able to collect full data submissions for their sites; meaning they completed at least 2 submissions of macros, discharge, water chemistry, and visual survey data sheets! It is important to collect full data submissions over multiple years, to provide enough information to formulate a trend or baseline understanding of water quality conditions.
Having sufficient data to interpret the water quality conditions can help promote current or future protections to that stream. If there is limited data on a water, it may be hard to capture what is normal to the stream through natural or seasonal changes.
We are inspired by the data stars’ dedication and consistency with their monitoring efforts to provide high-quality, long-term data. So once again, thank you and congratulations to the following 2022 Data Stars!
Grand Glaize Creek Assessment Project
Gateway Trout Unlimited Project
Missouri's Wetlands - Undervalued in Beauty and Use
Welcome Brian Waldrop
Announcements, Save the Dates, and Activity Prizes
Water Quality Data Stars