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Al Agnew

L-A-D Foundation

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Today I got the L-A-D Foundation's annual report...I've donated to them in the past.  If you don't know, this organization was started by the late Leo Drey, who was one of the most important conservation figures in Missouri.  Leo bought a LOT of land throughout the state, including a bunch of really special places that eventually either went into public ownership or management.  The biggest chunk of land that the Foundation owns is the Pioneer Forest in Shannon and Carter counties; 143,318.25 acres, all open to the public with some restrictions.  It includes some very special areas, including fens, sinks, caves, and streams.  They also own Cave Spring on the Current River and its associated geologic features, Ball Mill Resurgence in Perry County (a very interesting geologic feature), Clifty Creek Natural Area in Maries County, Dripping Springs Natural Area in Texas County, Hickory Canyons Natural Area in Ste. Genevieve County (one of my stomping grounds--Mary's family owns a bunch of land very close to the back part of it, the part that doesn't have a hiking trail but is as scenically spectacular as the parts that do--and they just acquired 150 more acres there), Dillard Mill State Historic Site (if you've never visited it, you're missing a LOT), Grand Gulf State Park, a part of Lower Rock Creek in Madison County (one of the most gorgeous small stream shut-ins in the Ozarks), a virgin pine remnant in Shannon County.  

Tonight I was scrolling through Facebook, something I don't often do, and came upon a post by somebody apparently complaining that the Foundation had put up signs at some spots in Pioneer Forest posting it against the use of ATVs and horses.  He was complaining that he couldn't hunt there as easily because he couldn't use his ATV to get to his hunting spots or drag out a deer.  In the annual report, there was mention that they were trying to keep ATVs and horses off a very sensitive area along Leatherwood Creek, a bit upstream from the Bay Creek Access on the Jacks Fork, and this is apparently the place he was complaining about, because he said the signs were around Bay Creek.  The report said they were having a lot of problems with ATVs entering this sensitive natural area and damaging it.  I basically posted that it was their land, private land, and they could keep people off it completely if they wished, and noted the damage that careless use of ATVs was causing in the natural area.

Another thing I noted in the report was that they are in support of more designated wilderness in the "High Peaks" area of the St. Francois Mountains.  This area is on the western side of the region, and includes Taum Sauk Mtn., the highest point in the state, the Bell Mountain Wilderness Area, Goggins Mtn. Wilderness Area, and Johnson Shut-ins.  At one time, back in the 1950s, this whole area had been proposed as a national park, because it was the most spectacular mountainous area in Missouri and almost completely unspoiled at the time.  Then, Union Electric (now Ameren UE) stuck that complete eyesore of a mountaintop reservoir on top of Proffitt Mountain, and ruined the view from just about every other mountaintop in the area (yes, I absolutely HATE that monstrosity, and after it failed and nearly wiped out Johnson Shut-ins, I had hopes they'd abandon it but they didn't).  Ameren also owns Church Mountain to the south, and now they are considering building another pumped storage reservoir on top of it.  Plus, a pipeline company is proposing a big natural gas pipeline through a part of Johnson Shut-ins Park and between Goggins Mountain and Bell Mountain, further screwing up the landscape.

I am sure glad that Leo did what he did.  And I wish everybody valued wild Ozark country as much as I do.

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Al, Im from St.louis and have been on 2 pieces of L A D land. The first piece is Clifty Creek in which my aunt and uncle owned property on the back side with direct access to the natural bridge. After my Mom had passed away I made it a point to visit them as much as i could. Not knowing much about Clifty I hiked and hunted their property for a number of years. But viewing the land at Clifty was a pleasure. Every time it snowed I would head down there. Awesome is the word I would use to describe the land features in that area... Rugged is another but I was younger and it never bothered me. Ive had some of the best turkey hunting on my aunts property due to the rugged nature of the L A D  property. Not many people would dare climb those hills or cross that creek. My aunt and uncle have since passed and i do miss that area.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The other area is Bell Mountain, I was not aware the L A D  foundation was involved there. But ,one of the neatest wilderness areas i have climbed on.......Why you ask?????          TURKEYS... My cousin and I went there for years. His wife was the granddaughter of the Belles which is how it was spelled. We thought it was cool to hunt turkeys where Ray Eye grew up hunting them. Spent many mornings in the spring on top of that mountain listening to turkeys GOBBLE!!!!!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks to the L A D foundation for letting me play in their YARD!!!!!!                                                                                            

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