No, Chris, ASM's  CACHE/SPARKS program is not ending.  Perhaps you misunderstood my earlier message that the current phase of SPARKS (the agreement with DNR) ends November 30.  We anticipate continuation with a new agreement period.

The CACHE/SPARKS programs are agreements (similar to contracts) between the Audubon Society of Missouri and MDC (CACHE) and DNR (SPARKS).  The linchpins of the agreements are to provide (maintain and improve) an online database for MDC and DNR properties.  The entries in these databases are used to generate checklists (printable) for the sites  and occurrence data for use of the public, site managers and planners, and researchers.

A clarification, for I still occasionally run into someone who does not understand:  Trip reports into CACHE/SPARKS are by volunteers and ASM does not earn money nor pay for trip reports.  As conservation partnership coordinator, my duties include encouraging participation in the program because multiple trips make a better database.

The payments ASM receives from the agencies are to maintain the website data for public and agency use.  The ASM Board of Directors uses these funds to maintain and improve the website.  Because much of the work has been by volunteers and/or at a rate well below market value for website work, the ASM Board has been able to support many bird-related conservation and education efforts in recent years.

Recent  (last couple of years) uses are:

• Development of a library of Missouri bird recordings, a partnership with the Missouri River Bird Observatory (MRBO), through which equipment has been purchased and recording is underway;

• Two prairie bird monitoring survey projects, partnerships with the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) and MDC to monitor several prairies ;

• Savannah/prairie restoration, a partnership with Ozark Rivers Audubon Society and the City of Rolla;

• Locust Creek wetland restoration on the Zell tract of Pershing SP, a partnership with the Missouri Department of Natural Resoucces (DNR).

• Bird survey work in the Mystic Area and in the Confluence Area, partnering with USFWS and other groups.

• ASM joined with other partners to celebrate the completion of the Mingo Basin I project (NAWA grant) this year, and is participating in Mingo II and Mingo III projects.

• An ASM Graduate Research Scholarship was awarded to Jamie L. McCallum at the University of Central Missouri to support her research entitled “Use of Hayed and Unhayed CRP Fields by Grassland Birds in Missouri.”

• Additional activities investing in the future of bird conservation include scholarships toward the Green Leadership Academy for Diverse Ecosystems (GLADE), a summer intense course for high school students, partnering with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

More information about these and other bird conservation ASM partnership activities can be found at the ASM website at http://www.mobirds.org/CACHE/


Chris, you and one or two others on this forum have more than once appeared to question the intent and even the honesty of ASM members in the operation and administration of the CACHE/SPARKS programs.  I repeat, once more, as emphatically as I can, on my word of honor:  NO ONE IN ASM IS MAKING ANY PERSONAL PROFIT FROM THESE PROGRAMS.

The only reimbursements for expenses for any CACHE/SPARKS activities have been for bird surveys done as ASM contributions to partnership grants with others such as the Missouri Prairie Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  These surveys were done as part of partnership grant projects to assess before/after bird occurrence as stipulated in projects developed by other entities..  ASM's contributions to these projects were suppling qualified volunteer surveyors and supporting those specific surveys with reimbursement for travel.  Some of the surveyors were ASM members; others were not.  In many instances, the surveyors declined reimbursement.

As examples of the VOLUNTEER commitment to the program, 377 people have contributed trip reports to CACHE/SPARKS, 28,963 trip reports have been entered, totaling 37,028 trip hours.  The ten people who have contributed the most, Chris Barrigar, Edge Wade, Bill Clark, Kathleen Anderson, Mike Doyen, Jeff Cantrell, Mark Haas, Bruce Schuette, Bill Rowe, Jerry Decker have contributed:

15,498 trip reports
1,6391.2 volunteer hours

Of these, only Jeff Cantrell  has received any reimbursement for expenses for the hours of survey work done as a the volunteer component of partnership projects.  He was reluctant to accept the reimbursement, but did so to fulfill ASM's commitment to the projects as stipulated in the grant agreements.  Further, he did not conduct these surveys as an MDC employee, nor on MDC time.

Volunteers are free to report CACHE/SPARKS related expenses as charitable contributions for income tax deductions.  I personally do not know of anyone who has done so.  At least two employees of Monsanto have participated in the Monsanto program that acknowledges employees' volunteer services with contributions to not-for-profit organization to report their CACHE/SPARKS volunteer activities, earning additional funds for ASM scholarships.

In short, the CACHE/SPARKS programs continue to provide a service to Missouri wildlife site managers, researchers, and the public (birders).  The funds earned from these programs have been used to maintain the data website and contribute to bird-related habitat development, research and education.

I am proud of the contributions ASM members have made to these programs and the contributions the CACHE/SPARKS programs have made to the future of Missouri avifauna.

Edge Wade
ASM Conservation Partnership Coordinator
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On Oct 13, 2013, at 9:45 PM, Chris Hobbs wrote:

So did I read the cache / sparks project is ending?

Chris Hobbs
Lenexa KS
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Sent by Chris Hobbs via iPhone

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