How bureaucratic can the protection of nature be? Plenty, it turns out.

The signage at LaBarque Creek Conservation area suggests it.

First, there's the signage for the Nature Conservancy. They seem to purchased at least two other parcels in Jefferson County (Valley View Glades, and Victoria Glades) and turned them over to the Missouri Department of Conservation for management.

And there's a second sign, right at the start of the trail, which suggests an even more complicated set of relationships:

The list of participants, in case the image is hard to read:

  • Nature Conservancy
  • Missouri Department of Conservation
  • Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation
  • US Army Corp of Engineers
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service

And, in case that isn't enough, the LaBarque Creek Watershed has its own umbrella organization (whose website doesn't seem to have been updated recently, which is a shame). Their web page on partner organizations suggests an even longer list of groups which are interested in the area.

A start on a catalog of organizational dependencies would look something like:

  • A tax code which encourages donations to non-profit organizations like the Nature Conservancy and Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, which in turn work toward specific goals, and which in turn require a legal framework governing the creation of corporations, establishing the fiduciary ground rules for their directors, etc.
  • An organ of the state government devoted to conservation, funded by a dedicated stream of revenue, approved by the voters, all of which is authorized by the constitutional framework of the state.
  • Federal and local agencies which various functional purposes, funded by other revenue streams, etc.

If interested individuals have the sophistication to bend the machinery of every level of the government to their purposes, then their interests can achieve expression. Note that it doesn't matter whether they spend their own money (via donations to the Nature Conservancy, etc), or secure funding from the public purse; whichever the case (or both), they still need to secure the legal authority to make their interests real. And they still need to find organizations with which to partner.

LaBarque Creek CA is a marvellous place. At first glance, the marvel seems to stem from its natural properties, its mature forests, its beautiful small watersheds. But there's just as much marvel in the bureaucratic complexity which brings the natural space into a preserved status. LaBarque Creek CA is a marvel of two things, which we usually hold in opposition, a marvel of nature, and of culture.