June 1, 2009

Troy Gordon Memorial Project

May 23rd, 2009

Arrow Rock, MO

A little over a year ago, we lost a great friend & partner, Troy Gordon. As many of his friends & family came together to share a story, a hug or a laugh, we collected almost $2,000 to fund a memorial project to honor this special fallen hero. After all, it was not Troy’s spirit to stand around & contemplate, but to act! And we did just that on a beautiful Saturday morning in the little historic town of Arrow Rock on Memorial Day weekend.

Troy passionately worked on behalf of many organizations. Among them, the Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Master Naturalist, Missouri River Relief, Missouri Stream Team, and he founded & worked with Friends of Big Muddy just to name a few. He focused much of that work in the bottomlands of the Missouri River in addition to his educational efforts, introducing kids and adults to the birds, snakes, turtles and other wildlife that live in Missouri.

To honor Troy’s life work, we chose a trail that he had worked so hard to help implement with Fish & Wildlife partner, Tim Haller at the Jameson Island Unit of the Big Muddy Fish & Wildlife Refuge in Arrow Rock. In addition to Jameson Island, there are currently 7 other units of protected river habitat in the Big Muddy Refuge. Comprised of 11,000 acres strung up and down the lower Missouri River, this important resource continues to grow and evolve as the Fish & Wildlife Service acquire more of the Big Muddy’s floodplain from willing sellers, restoring and preserving parts of this once wild ecosystem. For more info. on the Big Muddy refuge, visit their website.

On a warm & steamy May morning, Friends of Big Muddy came together once again for a work project on the refuge, like so many that Troy had organized in the past. With project funds donated in his name, we built a platform to place a memorial plaque & bench along the Arrow Rock Landing trail to the river, and replaced many of the invasive & nuisance plant species taking over the bottoms with over a hundred native wildflower’s & shrubs! So instead of Garlic Mustard, Multi-flora Rose & Winter Creeper, there are now Wild Sweet Williams, Celandine Poppy’s, Spiderwort’s, Golden Ragwort’s, Wild Ginger, Silky Dogwood’s, Paw-Paw’s, False Indigo’s & Buttonbush’s. It was a beautiful sight.

We followed our workday with a gourmet BBQ lunch, good company, and a quiet feeling of triumph as Friends of Big Muddy was resurrected after more than a year. Mostly, I feel thankful for all of the organizations & people that Troy has brought together. He certainly left a lasting legacy, and some pretty big foot steps to fill, but I feel confident that in due time we will close the huge gap that he left, with each new step.

Special thanks goes out to Tim Haller, Randy & Tom Bell of the Big Muddy Fish & Wildlife Refuge for all of their hard work & coordination in making this event go off without a hitch, Troy’s widow Janine, for being such a trooper and continuing to help us fill his footsteps, Tim Nigh & Dinise Mustain for preparing our gourmet lunch, the local farmer’s for providing us their with quality, feel-good-food, Missouri River Relief’s new hard-core crew members for volunteering for the work day even though they didn’t know Troy, and the many friends, partners, & family that donated either their time, support or money to help create such a nice tribute & memorial to Troy.

Thank you.

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