When an island isn’t an island.
By Larry Archer
“No man is an island,” said poet John Donne. Nor, despite its name, is Franklin Island Conservation Area (CA). It was an island once, cut off from the rest of Howard County by a channel of the Missouri River, but flood-control levees constructed in the 1950s closed the channel, reunited this area with the mainland, and turned its name into a misnomer.
While the river no longer contributes to the area’s island status, it and a tributary, Bonne Femme Creek, still influence the 1,625-acre area’s character and usage, according to Franklin Island CA Manager Steven Noll.
“I would say our greatest public attraction and use is probably the boat ramp on the Missouri River,” Noll said. “Fishing access on Bonne Femme Creek is also very popular.” The area is an opportunistic wetland, relying exclusively on river flooding to determine water levels. When the area’s cells are flooded, it tends to draw migrating waterfowl, and with them, bald eagles.
Located less than two miles downstream from Boonville, the boat ramp offers a view of the town’s iconic railroad bridge, and, on a quiet Sunday morning, one might even hear local church bells toll.
“It’s kind of a unique habitat in the Missouri River floodplain. We’ve got about 300–400 acres of bottomland hardwoods that are attractive to Neotropical migrants. It is essentially an island of habitat in the floodplain.”
—Franklin Island CA Manager Steven Noll
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
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