Westport Island

Bottomland Forest
Bottomland Forest

Points of Interest:

  • Wander among large bottomland forest trees.
  • See one of the best remnant bottomland hardwood forests along the Mississippi River between Hannibal and the Confluence.
  • Look for a number of migratory songbirds in the spring.

Natural Features Description:

This mature bottomland forest has been impacted by the great floods of 1993 and 1995 but has still retained much of its integrity. The tallest trees in the canopy reach over 100 feet and scattered bur oaks, pecans, and sycamores exceed 30 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet above the ground. The microtopography of the area has flats, short ridges, swales, low terraces and sloughs. This gives rise to a pattern of riverfront forest on the lower elevations (especially along the river), wet bottomland forest and shrub swamp in the swales and along the sloughs and wet-mesic bottomland forest on the short ridges and terraces. The riverfront forest is dominated by silver maple, green ash, and cottonwood. Swamp privet and buttonbush along with green ash ring the sloughs and line the swales. The wet-mesic bottomland forest is dominated by: pecan, sycamore and green ash with scattered bur and pin oak, Kentucky coffee tree, silver maple, and hackberry. The mid-story is primarily hackberry. Vine species are abundant across the islands forests. Green hawthorn, a characteristic bottomland forest understory tree, is found here. Swamp privet found growing around the sloughs is a species found more commonly in the southeast U.S. and here is near the northern limits of its range. In the winter time bald eagles are often seen here. During the spring and fall migratory songbirds and waterfowl pass by and through this area. Wood ducks utilize the sloughs and a heron rookery is present. Barred owl, pileated woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, northern parula, and prothonotary warbler may be spotted.

Access Information: 

This natural area is within the Upper Mississippi Conservation Area. The natural area falls within the south half of Westport Island. Access is by boat only. Put your boat in at the Hamburg Ferry Access (Mississippi River Mile 258.5). Proceed south downstream to around Mississippi River Mile 255, about 3 to 4 miles south of the access. To your right (west) is the natural area. The natural area is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (contact the St. Louis District Office of the Corps for river information at 314-331-8068). The Missouri Department of Conservation leases the area for management. Hunting and fishing are permitted. A map and compass are recommended to explore this area.

General Information
Designation Date: 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Missouri Department of Conservation – St. Louis Regional Office
Contact Phone: 

Get more information from the MDC Atlas.

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