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When I moved to Missouri in 1972, Burroughs Audubon Society had only 
recently affiliated with National Audubon Society. Prior to that, it was a 
birding/nature club named "Burroughs Nature Club" or "Burroughs Nature 
Society" after the great naturalist, John Burroughs.

When I became President of BAS c. 1975, my goal was to expand its focus from 
birding to include effective conservation activism. We took on four projects 
and made a difference in several of them:

1. We actively campaigned for the Missouri Design for Conservation, which 
was enacted c. 1976 and went into effect in 1977.

2. We worked for the relocation of the Trimble Wildlife Management Area 
(about to be inundated when Smithville Lake filled up) to a larger 
mitigation CA near Missouri City to be called the "Jackass Bend Wildlife 
Management Area."  We lobbied Congressmen and Senators (I remember meeting 
with three Congressmen, a Colonel of the Corps of Engineers and Jim 
Symington, who was running for his father's Senate seat) and got the funding 
for Jackass Bend through both houses of Congress as part of an Omnibus 
Appropriations Bill. Unfortunately, President Carter vetoed it in what now 
appears to have been a naive attempt to limit pork barrel spending, and 
Jackass Bend fell through.

3. Martha Lafite Thompson died shortly before I took office, leaving 53 
acres in Liberty to a trust that gave BAS a major role in setting up what is 
now the "Martha LaFite Thompson Sanctuary." We hired National Audubon to 
provide a development plan. In 1978, Missouri Department of Conservation 
used Design money to add 46 acres to Mrs. Thompson's property, nearly 
doubling its size.

4. We worked for a "Tallgrass Prairie National Park" in the Kansas Flint 
Hills. (I remember going on John Masterman's PBS TV show (KCPT) to plug the 
park idea). The 60,000 acre park we dreamed of never happened. However, the 
Nature Conservancy acquired the 8000 acre Konza Prairie near Junction City, 
KS. around that time. More recently, Nature Conservancy acquired the land 
for the 11,000 acre "Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve" in Oklahoma, which 
is administered by the National Park Service.

When I became President of BAS, Charles Callison, a Missourian, was 
Executive Vice President of National Audubon Society. Callison was also one 
of the principal architects of the Missouri Design for Conservation. He gave 
the keynote address at one of our BAS annual banquets. Two other VPs of 
National Audubon came to our meetings, Ron Klataske, the Regional VP, and 
another VP from the head office in NYC, whose name I forget. Thus, our 
involvement with National Audubon was considerably more than pro forma.

I was succeeded as President of BAS by Wendell Mohling, who had developed 
magnificent presentations of Alaska involving multiple slide projectors and 
John Denver music. His conservation efforts were considered so valuable that 
President Carter invited him to be present at the White House for the 
signing of the Alaska National Interest Conservation Act, which added 100 
million acres to the federal system of national parks and wildlife refuges.

(In 1986, Wendell, hoping to be the first private citizen in space,  was one 
of the finalists in the "teacher in space" program. Crista McAuliffe beat 
him out and  died in the Challenger disaster).

Our efforts to remake BAS into a conservation organization were so 
successful that birders complained that it had ceased to be a birding club. 
These complaints coincided with a shift in emphasis by National Audubon away 
from birding to being strictly a conservation organization. Thereafter, a 
sort of dual membership system developed. For $35 you could belong to BAS 
(and National Audubon) and get the Audubon Magazine. For $10, you were 
technically not a member of BAS but got the newsletter and went on the field 
trips. Thus, some of BAS' most active participants were not really members.

When I was President of BAS, we had about 1800 members on the books. That 
number grew to at least 2100 a year or two later. Most of those members 
never attended a BAS meeting. Instead, they joined to support National 
Audubon. Quite a few of them were physicians who wanted the Audubon Magazine 
in their waiting rooms.


Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
[log in to unmask] 

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