Anniversary of ‘Super Derecho’; Mingo photo contest

For the month of June, Table Rock Lake is celebrating National Camping and Great Outdoors Month.  

Summer is here and it’s time to get out your tents, put on your hiking shoes, and get out and explore our beautiful great outdoors.  

Throughout the month, the Dewey Short Visitor Center will feature displays and activities for visitors of all ages to learn about various outdoor opportunities and how to be safe this summer.  

The visitor center is open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Located just south of Table Rock Dam on State Highway 165 in Branson, it offers several interactive displays, a 22-minute film about the purpose and construction of the dam, and viewing decks overlooking Table Rock Lake and dam. 

Picnic facilities and a 2.2 mile asphalt surface trail are also located on the visitor center grounds. Park rangers will provide short programs on Table Rock Lake every Monday, Wednesday and Friday beginning at 11 a.m. 

The visitor center is a great place to take the family, with clean restrooms and lots to do inside and out. And, sitting on the outside deck of the facility, you have an excellent view of the lake and dam.

Plus, and don’t hold me to this, I believe you can see the Fourth of July fireworks from across the lake.


Ten years ago, a fast-moving complex of severe thunderstorms brought damaging winds, large hail, tornadoes, and flooding to southern Missouri.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center called this storm the “Super Derecho” because it was one of the most intense and unusual wind storms ever observed.

Jimmy Sexton

The derecho produced significant and often continuous damage over a broad swath from the high plains of western Kansas to the foothills of the Appalachians in eastern Kentucky.

Every Mark Twain National Forest ranger district was affected by the derecho. There were power outages, damage to property, buildings, and recreation site facilities. Trees were down across swaths of forest land.

Forest Service employees and other first responders spent the days immediately after the storm working to free campers and local residents trapped by roads obstructed by fallen trees.  

When aerial flights could be made, it was estimated that more than 29,000 acres of Mark Twain National Forest lands received catastrophic damage, along with thousands of acres of private and state-owned lands.
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The Forest Service spent much of the last decade addressing the management challenges created by the Super Derecho. Timber blown down or damaged was salvaged through timber sale contracts and permits and sent to local mills.  

Fuel breaks were created along roads and on ridges as a preventative measure in the event wildfires started in areas with heavy amounts of blown down trees.  

Recreation facilities and trails were repaired and cleared.  

Still today, the effects of the Super Derecho are felt when planning and implementing projects in hard hit areas of the national forest.


Mingo accepting photo contest entries

The 14th annual Mingo Swamp Friends Flora and Fauna Photo Contest is open for entries until Aug. 1. Youth and adults are invited to enter. 

Photos can be entered in any or all of four categories: native wildlife, native plants, people in nature, and Mingo landscapes. Photos of people and landscapes must be taken on the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. 

Photos will be judged on overall impact, technical excellence, originality, and subject matter appropriate to Mingo. Photos from youth and adults are judged separately.

Contestants may enter any number of photos, but all photos must be 8”x10” in size. There is no entry fee for youth. There is a fee of $5 for each adult entry. 

A digital file of the photo must also be submitted. Winning photos will be matted for display by the Swamp Friends.

Cash awards will be given for first, second and third place in each of the four categories, and for Best of Show for adults and for youth.

The winning photos will be displayed in the coming year around southeast Missouri and St. Louis. The winning photos from 2011 through 2018 can be viewed on the Mingo Swamp Friends website at

Rules and entry forms are available on the website and at the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center north of Puxico off Highway 51. Call (573) 222-3589 for more information.

(Jimmy Sexton is owner and publisher of the River Hills Traveler. He can be reached by phone or text at (417) 451-3798, or

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