Historic and Recent Land Use
Prior to settlement, prairie grasses such as big and little bluestem dominated the landscape of the Platte River basin. Timber was generally confined to deep, narrow ravines or along major tributaries. Ravines or minor tributary draws opening to the east had less timber than those opening to the west. In addition, along the major south-flowing streams the woodland corridor was very narrow or absent on the west side, but was thicker on the eastern side (Schroeder 1982). This asymmetry was thought to be related to eastward moving fires that were stopped by the river channel firebreak (Clouser 1978).
Native American tribes inhabited the region prior to the 1830's and included the Sauk, Fox, Otoe, Ioway, Pottawattamie, and Sioux. Most of the Native Americans were displaced to the Kansas Territory from the Platte Territory during the 1830's when the State of Missouri acquired this portion of the state as part of the Platte Purchase of 1836. However, a few tribes in Gentry and Worth counties remained there until the early 1850's. Settlers of the region began arriving in the early 1830's, and most were from the eastern states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana. Initially the soils in the woodland areas along the tributaries were cultivated because newcomers to the region did not believe that land supporting only grass had any value other than for grazing (Kramer 1993). However, settlers soon found that the deep, dark-colored prairie soils produced superior crops, and intensive breaking of the prairie sod began and did not cease until nearly all of the land was converted to agricultural production (Brown 1968). Corn was the primary crop, but wheat, oats, tobacco, hemp, flax, cotton, fruit trees, cattle, and hogs were also grown in the region (Kramer 1993).
The first railroads, built in the 1870's, increased the momentum of the agricultural movement by providing easy access to plows, reapers, and fencing. This enabled settlers to aggressively convert native prairie to cropland. Drainage of bottom lands also occurred during this time period. This opened up large new areas for settlement. The population of northwest Missouri peaked in the early 1900's after which the population began to decline, a trend within the region that continues to this day. Only the lower portion of the basin in Platte County is experiencing any population growth. This area will likely continue to grow at an accelerated rate as the suburbs of Kansas City continue to expand northward.
Current land use within the basin continues to be dominated by row crop production (Table Lu01, Figure Lu01). In 1992, about 56% of land within the basin was in row crop production. Pasture and forest areas accounted for 29% and 8%, respectively, of the land use within the Platte River basin. However, there were differences in land use patterns between the states of Iowa and Missouri within the basin (Table Lu01). Almost 70% of the Platte River basin in Iowa was in row crop production, compared to only 50% in the Missouri portion of the basin. Forest and grassland areas accounted for 4% and 20%, respectively, of land use in the Iowa portion of the basin, while 9% and 32%, respectively, of the land use in Missouri were attributed to these two habitat types.
Soil Conservation Projects
Missouri has about 56,000 acres (3.6%) of the Platte River basin within Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act (PL 83-566) watershed projects (USDA-SCS 1993). Two watershed projects have been completed under PL 83-566 (Table Lu02). The Platte River Tributaries Watershed Project was completed in 1967, and it included 11 grade stabilization structures and 1.6 miles of channelization on small tributary streams. The 102 River Tributaries Watershed Project was completed in 1977, and it included 10 grade stabilization structures, 18 land treatment stabilization structures and one multipurpose dam. The Mozingo Creek Watershed Project designed to provide watershed protection, flood prevention, municipal water, and recreation, was completed in 1996. Mozingo Lake (1,000 surface acres), completed in 1994, is at full pool with three stabilization structures scheduled for construction above the lake and the fourth planned project canceled (Ross Braun NRCS personal communication). Three remaining watershed projects that were planned under PL 83-566 within the basin are currently inactive, including Little Third Fork Platte River, East 102 River, and Lower 102 River.
Special Area Land Treatment (SALT) and EARTH projects are state-funded programs administered by local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. These projects are designed to reduce soil erosion within each Conservation District by taking a watershed approach. There are currently six SALT projects and one EARTH project planned within the Platte River basin (Table Lu03), however, none were completed as of February 1996.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) manages 6,946 acres of land within the Platte River basin (Table Lu04)(Figure Lu02). Land managed by MDC within the basin includes both pastured and forested areas, as well as land that is in row crop production. Opportunities exist for both consumptive and non-consumptive recreational activities on public lands owned by MDC.
There are 22 stream access or frontage sites in the Missouri portion of the Platte River basin (Figure mo), and boat ramps are provided at five of these areas (Table Lu04). McPherson (1994) identified seven additional significant stream resource areas (four access sites and three frontage sites) within the basin that were potential areas to be acquired by MDC (Table Lu05). These sites would not only provide additional wade and bank fishing opportunity but would preserve high quality or remnant habitat and quality natural features. An additional stream access site on the Platte River in Buchanan County was identified as a high priority for acquisition by MDC in northwest Missouri (Table Lu05; see Kerns memorandum dated 6-27-96).
There are several other public areas within the Missouri portion of the watershed that are not owned by MDC (Figure Lu03). Two public ponds are located in the town of Savannah (Andrew County), and they total 2.5 acres. Four public ponds are located on the campus of Missouri Western State College in St. Joseph (Buchanan County) that total 4.0 acres. The city of Maryville (Nodaway County) owns 3,325 acres of public land, and included in this total is the recently (1994) impounded 1,000-acre Mozingo Creek Lake. Smithville Lake is a 7,190 acre U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers (USCOE) impoundment located in Clinton and Clay counties, Missouri. Construction of the dam at Smithville Lake was completed in 1977 and the reservoir began filling in October 1979. The reservoir impounded 18 miles of the Little Platte River valley. There are 12,519 acres of public land that surround Smithville Lake that provide various recreational activities. This land is owned by the USCOE, and portions are managed by Clay County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites, city of Plattsburg, and MDC.
There are 11 public areas within the Iowa portion of the Platte River basin (Table Lu06; Figure Lu04). These areas contain a variety of habitat types including wetlands, grasslands, timber, and row crops. These 11 areas total 2,755 acres. There are 10 impoundments on these 11 public areas that total 1,042 surface acres of water (includes Mitchell Marsh, a 50-acre marsh located within the Iowa portion of the basin).
Corps of Engineers 404 Jurisdiction
The Missouri portion of the Platte River basin is under the jurisdiction of the Kansas City District of the USCOE. The Iowa portion of the basin is administered by the Rock Island District of the USCOE. Applications for 404 permits should be addressed to the following offices:
In Missouri: In Iowa: US Army Corps of Engineers US Army Corps of Engineers 700 Federal Building Clock Tower Building Kansas City, MO 64106-2896 Rock Island, IL 61201-2004 Attention: MRKOD-P Attention: NCROD-S phone: (816) 426-5357 phone: (309) 788-6361 ext. 6370.