MDC Wetlands Are Mostly OK
If you aren’t a duck hunter, you might assume that floods are good for folks who invest all their spare cash in decoys and retriever food. With water covering tens of thousands of acres along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, ducks will have plenty of places to land, right?
Waterfowl hunters know better. They understand that waterfowl need more than water. They need food, for instance. To store up enough energy for the next leg of their journey, migrating waterfowl look for corn, rice or seeds from native plants, like smartweed and sedges. If ducks find those food sources standing in a few inches of water, they stay in Missouri and eat their fill. When they find only vast expanses of empty water, they keep going south.
Knowing that, you might assume the outlook is bleak for duck hunters. That isn’t true, either. Yes, lots of normally productive cropland is flooded right now. I was shocked to see how much agricultural land was underwater when I flew between Eagle Bluffs and Bob Brown conservation areas recently. Even though levees are holding in most areas, I saw several river bottoms covered with water from seepage. But lots of land in the Missouri River valley remains farmable, and hunters will be relieved to know that most of the 15 wetland areas owned by the Conservation Department are getting through this flood year just fine.
Grand Pass CA is a good example. This 5,000-acre area sits right on the Missouri River in Saline County. The farmland just upriver is a lake, but levees that protect Grand Pass and surrounding farmland have held. Crops are growing well on much of the area, as you can see in the accompanying photo.
Seepage did cause some crop losses at Grand Pass. The west refuge--pools 1 and 2--had total crop failure. Pools 5 West and portions of Pool 5 also had some yield reductions, but crops in pools 3, 4 and TIII are in good shape. Late-planted food plots of corn are in good to fair condition. Natural vegetation in pools 5, 6, 8 and 9 are in good to excellent condition. Most of Pool 7 is shifting to perennial vegetation, such as cattails and bulrush, so seed production from millet, smartweed, etc., is significantly reduced there.
The levees also have held at 4,400-acre Eagle Bluffs CA in southern Boone County. Seep water has reduced production somewhat in pools 3, 8, 11 and