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May Monthly Meeting Recap:

Our 2023 May Monthly Meeting was held on the 5th at 7:30 a.m. at the Watershed Center

Denise Henderson Vaughn, science writer and award-winning journalist, presented on Karst education in the Ozarks: teachers, documentaries, maps, and field trips. She discussed the history of Ozarks karst, its controversies, and the importance of community involvement.  

Ms. Vaughn said is a project of the Ozarks Resource Center, in which she is the Director. The Ozark Resource Center (ORC), she said, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit in West Plains, Mo., with a mission to promote environmentally responsible practices, has a long history of projects that foster groundwater protection, dating back to the 1978 collapse of the West Plains sewage lagoon. 

In the 1980s, one of ORC’s projects raised awareness about pollution from septic tanks and promoted alternatives. In the late 1990’s, ORC gave school presentations about Ozark karst topography and developed a map of karst features in south central Missouri. ORC has produced two documentaries that further karst education: “Karst in the Ozarks,” (2010, 18 minutes) and “Karst in Perry County,” (2020, 18 minutes), the latter of which has been shown on PBS and won two film festival awards. Both videos were produced in cooperation with Somewhereinthewoods Productions. Ms. Vaughn said they contributed the content for the South Central Missouri section of the booklet “Living on Karst: A Reference Guide for Ozark Landowners. This Ozark version is adapted from the original, which was written for the Virginias and it discusses erosion and sediment, protecting wells, septic tanks, sinkhole care, forestland best management, stream protection and hints for cave owners). Ms. Vaughn played the ‘Karst in Perry County’ video for attendees. 

ORC is a partner in the program, Hands-On Karst and Watershed Education in the Ozarks, provide workshops and field trips that aim to offer public school teachers scientific information and teaching tools that they can use to educate youth in the Missouri Ozarks about watersheds, groundwater, water quality, water use, conservation, stewardship, karst features (like caves, sinkholes, springs, and losing streams), and how human actions and decisions (their own included) affect water. They would love to expand these workshops and educational opportunities outside of the Howell County area. More information can be found at

Department of Conservation Update

Largemouth Bass at Valley Water Mill

After the presentation, Kara Tvedt, with the Missouri Department of Conservation, gave a quarterly update. Ms. Tvedt’s update included Aquatic Plant Gardens that were established last year to provide food and shelter to aquatic species, provide pollinator habitat and improve water quality. Three floating islands were installed and will be monitored to see what size/kind of plants were successful.

Muskie at Fellows Lake

She said a Fellows Lake Walleye survey was conducted on March 28th, showing that the Walleye population is thriving. The Muskie sampling was the highest count yet! And good news, Ms. Tvedt reported that they are still actively treating thirteen hydrilla sites and continue to see a decline in tubers.

Regional Updates

Marissa with the Sierra Club said Eleven Point State Park is having an open house May 13. Kelly Guenther said the Watershed Summer Gala is June 23 and tickets are on sale. Megan Terry said the area is working its way back into a drought. Todd Wilkinson with James River Basin Partnership said registration is open online for the River Rescue, Saturday, June 10. Christy Wilder said Watershed Natives Plants and Pints sales will be happening May through June.