bird-watching and auto-touring to see wildlife.
Waterfowl have been important to the Mound City economy for decades, though in the past duck hunting was the acknowledged main attraction. But that may be changing.
"I think there are more people coming here now to watch wildlife than to hunt," says Charlie Pecora, manager of Audrey's Motel. While duck populations have rebounded in the past few years, "hunting doesn't seem to bring in the people it once did. November used to be our best month and we'd stay full with hunters. But now we do well from late October on through mid or late December - when the snow geese and eagles are here."
A few wingbeats down Interstate 29 at Squaw Creek (Truck) Plaza, business manager Phyllis Martinez is equally enthusiastic. "We get a lot of tour buses that stop off to visit the refuge in the spring and fall, and especially in December and January to see the eagles - that's a time that might otherwise be slow for us."
A major economic benefit of wildlife watching is its ability to attract visitors, and revenue, to an area throughout the year, particularly before and after the traditional summer-vacation months. Indeed, summer is the slowest time for auto-tours of the refuge, after a busy spring filled with shorebird migrations and 20,000 human admirers. But just as Squaw Creek "cools off," summer travel is heating up on the interstate and to nearby Big Lake State Park, assuring a continued steady stream of customers for many local businesses.
And soon there will be even more traveler-serving enterprises, as Mound City welcomes its second major truck plaza and national fast-food restaurant, first bed-and-breakfast, and a restored hunting lodge near the refuge that features birding and nature trails. Obviously these new business owners feel Mound City is the place to be. Quite a few snow geese and bald eagles would agree.
Natural Beauty, Naturally Profitable
A study by the Missouri Division of Tourism revealed that "natural beauty" is one of the top five reasons people cited for visiting Missouri.
Communities that recognize their natural resources locally can profit substantially by promoting outdoor opportunities. Cashing in on wildlife tourism is a profitable adventure.
The Tourism Team
by Kathy Love
The Missouri Division of Tourism and the Conservation Department have teamed up to encourage communities to cash in on nature tourism. An interagency task force is exploring ways to encourage visitation to public recreation lands for the benefit