Golden Anniversary Wetland Initiative
An initial land purchase of 3,433 acres in 1947 was followed by others in subsequent decades, resulting in a current conservation area of 7,145 acres. Damage from floods and aging water control structures now requires immediate attention. Some restoration work is already underway, but more work will be needed.
Portions of Ted Shanks Conservation Area, in Pike county, were originally purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to the completion, in 1940, of the Saverton lock and dam on the Mississippi River. The Department took over management of these lands in 1954. In 1970, four additional tracts of land were purchased, and waterfowl hunting began in 1978. Today, an elevated water table, due to the lock and dam, combined with major floods, has killed most of the bottomland forests on the area. As a result, the wetlands are being invaded by exotic reed canary grass.
Duck Creek Conservation Area, purchased in 1950 to provide hunting opportunities in southeast Missouri, encompasses 6,234 acres. Duck Creek may be the most technically challenging of the Golden Anniversary projects. Wetland managers struggle to find a balance between providing a premier fishing lake and providing shallow water levels to accommodate thousands of migrating waterfowl and public hunting.
The 3,600-acre Montrose Conservation Area in Henry County centers on a 1600-acre lake that provides cooling water for an electrical generation plant. The Department began managing the area in 1956 as a fishing area, but later as a waterfowl/wetland area. During the late 1960s and through the 1970s, several small auxiliary wetland units were developed around the margins of the lake. These wetland units have trapped over 15 feet of silt in some portions, creating serious management challenges and limiting public use.
Much of the 8,633-acre Schell-Osage Conservation Area was initially purchased in 1957. Waterfowl hunting began at the area in 1963. In wetter years, management of the Schell-Osage wetlands is complicated by floodwaters from the Harry S. Truman Reservoir that was completed in 1979. Without major renovation wetland management capabilities will continue to be compromised.
The Big Five Turn Fifty
Aging affects us all, and wetlands are no different. The original man-made structures (levees, pipes, water control gates, etc.) installed 50 years ago on these five wetland areas have outlived their life expectancy.
Pumps require daily maintenance during seasonal operation and frequent overhauling in between. Levees and dikes are under constant attack by erosion, and burrowing animals (such as muskrats) can cause