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From Missouri Conservationist: March 2019

St. Louis Region: B.K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area

By Larry Archer

It doesn’t take long before a novice birder begins to suspect that B.K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area (CA) Manager Gary Calvert is simply making up names.

“We get some odd bird species,” said Calvert, a wildlife management biologist. “We get a lot of short-eared owls. We’ll have sandhill cranes. This year we had blackbellied whistling ducks. We’ve had white-faced ibis. There’s a lot of kind of unique wetland species that use the area.”

But he’s not making things up. This 4,307-acre area, located in the Mississippi River floodplain east of Elsberry in Lincoln County, is one of MDC’s intensively managed wetlands, making it a waterfowl hunting destination in the winter and a birder’s paradise in the spring, he said.

“The area is managed for waterfowl and a suite of wetland species,” he said. “We manage for secretive marsh birds and that type thing also. We have nesting king rails on the area traditionally and nesting least bitterns, and we get a lot of other wetland species using the area.”

The area also serves as a gateway for boaters and floaters looking to ply the Mississippi River, and the area’s floodplain flatness offers photographers some great landscapes.

B.K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area consists of three tracts in Lincoln County totaling 4,307 acres. From Elsberry, take Highway 79 south 3 miles, then Route M east 3 miles to the main tract.

What to do When You Visit

  • Bird-Watching Included in the National Audubon Society’s Lincoln Alluvial Complex Important Bird Area ( and on the Great Missouri Birding Trail ( The eBird list of birds recorded at B.K. Leach Memorial CA is available at
  • Hunting Deer Deer regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Fall Deer and Turkey booklet for current regulations. Also dove, quail, and rabbit
  • Trapping Special-use permit required.
  • Waterfowl Hunting Morning draw. Waterfowl regulations are subject to annual change, so check the 2019 Waterfowl Hunting Digest for current regulations.

What to Look for When You Visit

  • Beaver River otter
  • Northern watersnake
  • Least bittern
  • King rail
  • Common snapping turtle

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
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