About 10 miles northwest of Archie in Cass County, Amarugia Highlands Conservation Area occupies a part of the rugged landscape once known as “The Kingdom of Amarugia.” Sometime after the Civil War, a group of people formed their own government and society here. Few details of their efforts remain, but a 1,041-acre tract in the southern portion of their community became Missouri Department of Conservation property in 1983.
The Department immediately began turning the area’s old crop fields, grasslands and woodlands into a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. One of the first projects was the 45-acre Amarugia Lake, which was completed in 1987. The lake supports a good population of channel catfish, crappie and sunfish, and it is equipped with a boat ramp. Anglers will also find several ponds throughout the area, as well as access to the South Grand River and South Fork Creek.
The area’s diverse habitat, which includes a 100-acre constructed wetland, is managed for a variety of game and non-game wildlife species. Each season offers new opportunities to harvest local bounty, discover a surprising natural detail or capture a moment of beauty with your camera. The wetland offers waterfowl hunting and viewing, and it attracts lots of shorebirds during migration.
In December, birders can expect to see bald eagles hunting for waterfowl around the wetland area, which is accessible by foot via the field road and the levees. Haying and controlled burning maintain plant diversity in open areas. Habitat plantings include trees, shrubs and native grasses. As a result, the area is home to a great number of shrub and grassland bird species—grasshopper sparrows, quail and Bell’s vireo, to name a few.
Hunters can pursue deer, dove, rabbit, squirrel and turkey in season, and they can hunt waterfowl in season until 1 p.m. Trapping is permitted with a special-use permit.
The Kingdom of Amarugia’s founders intended to make a better world for themselves. Unfortunately for these pioneering souls, their social experiment failed. Fortunately for us, they left a landscape that improved public access to outdoor recreation opportunities for all Missourians.
—Bonnie Chasteen, photo by Noppadol Paothong
Call (816) 622-0900 or visit our online atlas, keyword "Amarugia".
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler