Places to Go

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From Missouri Conservationist: January 2018

Central Region: Franklin Island Conservation Area

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

What to look for when you visit:

  • Dark-eyed junco
  • White-tailed deer
  • Beaver
  • Eastern meadowlark

Franklin Island Conservation Area

  • Consists of 1,625 acres in Howard County.
  • From Boonville, take Highway 40 east 3 miles to County Road 465.
  • N39° 0’ 12.0301” | W92° 43’ 0.43”
  • 573-815-7900

What to do when you visit:

  • Bird Watching Included in the National Audubon Society’s Manitou Floodplain Important Bird Area. The eBird list of birds recorded at Franklin Island CA is available at
  • Camping Individual campsites, but no amenities are provided.
  • Fishing Bass (fair), catfish (good), crappie (fair), sunfish (fair), other — drum, carp, and buffalo — (good). Hiking No designated trails, but muchof the area is accessible via levees.


  • Deer (good) and turkey (good). Deer and turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklets for current regulations.
  • Dove (good). Dove hunting depends on the quality of dove fields; dove numbers decrease dramatically after the first few days of the season.
  • Quail (fair).
  • Waterfowl (good). The area’s wetlands are flood dependent on the Missouri River and Bonne Femme Creek. Waterfowl regulations are subject to annual changes, so refer to the Waterfowl Hunting Digest for current regulations.
  • Trapping Special use permit required.

Also In This Issue

Prairie Chickens grazing
Serving Nature and You: Fiscal Year July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler