Managed and maintained especially for water-loving birds, this area in central Missouri features seasonal waterfowl in winning wetlands.
This Boone County area is 4,431 acres of wetland wonderland. Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area (CA), maintained especially for wetlands and the birds that inhabit them, is a must-visit for Missouri’s wildlife lovers.
A wetland-dominant area, Eagle Bluffs CA’s waters are surrounded by tracts of forest and cropland. With more than 10 miles of stream-front land, the area’s wetlands and waterfowl can be viewed from shores, hiking trails, and viewing and hunting blinds.
The Audubon Society designated Eagle Bluffs CA as an Important Bird Area for the essential habitat it provides, making it a bird-watching hotspot. Shorebirds frequent the area during the April–June and August–September, while ducks and geese are present from October through May. Abundant river timber creates habitat attractive to migrant and resident songbirds.
The area can also be viewed from three different hiking trails. One trail branches off of the Katy Trail, which passes through a portion of the area and allows access to a bluff-top observation deck. This trail is extremely steep but worth the amazing view from the top. Eagle Bluffs CA’s own hiking trails are 3 miles and 1.6 miles long and begin at the river parking lot.
While no camping is permitted on the area, people traveling the Missouri River by boat may camp within 100 yards of the river between April 1 and Sept. 30. The Missouri River and Perche Creek offer fishing opportunities for catfish, carp, buffalo, and drum. Hunting prospects include archery deer, dove, rabbit, squirrel, and waterfowl in season. Waterfowl hunters must obtain a daily waterfowl-hunting permit at the draw held each morning approximately two hours before sunrise; 80 percent of waterfowl hunting is allocated by the Quick Draw system.
Wetland management is key for Eagle Bluffs CA. Its 17 wetland pools allow the flooding of 1,100 acres of marshes and crop fields. The area’s wetland-management infrastructure includes 30 miles of levees, 61 water-control structures, river-water supply pumps, pump-out facilities, and a pipeline linking the area to the City of Columbia. A cooperative agreement between the Department and Columbia enables the Department to use treated wastewater from the city as a primary water source for the wetlands, providing nearly constant water flow that can be supplemented by river pumps when necessary.
—Rebecca Martin, photo by Noppadol Paothong
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