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From Missouri Conservationist: September 2019

Kansas City Region | Four Rivers Conservation Area

Wetlands, waterfowl, and one long name change.

by Larry Archer

It’s complicated. With an expansion, name change, natural area, and roughly 5,500 acres of managed wetlands, there’s a lot to take in when it comes to Four Rivers Conservation Area (CA).

First is the name. Originally purchased in 1982, Four Rivers CA was renamed the August A. Busch Jr. Memorial Wetlands at Four Rivers Conservation Area in 1999 after an expansion the previous year. The expansion doubled the number of wetland units, making the 13,929- acre area in Vernon and Bates counties a major Midwest destination for waterfowl hunters, said Wildlife Management Biologist Chris Daniel, Four Rivers CA manager.

“That September through January period is typically when the highest public use occurs,” Daniel said. “We’ll have 6,000 to 7,000 waterfowl hunters during duck season.”

The same thing that makes the area a haven for waterfowl hunters also makes it a destination for birders, he said.

“Four Rivers is one of the top 10 places to bird in Missouri in terms of species diversity. August through September are really good times to view shorebirds,” he said. “We typically have some shallow water and exposed mudflats that we manage specifically for shorebirds. When possible, we try to put some of that close to the roads so people can see that.”

“Early to mid-September is a big attractant for early teal season hunters. It’s not uncommon to have 2,000-plus blue-winged teal here. That’s pretty normal at some point during the migration, but it doesn’t always correspond with the early teal season.”

—Four Rivers CA Manager Chris Daniel

Four Rivers Conservation Area consists of 13,929 acres in Vernon and Bates counties. The area is located about 15 miles north of Nevada and 5 miles south of Rich Hill. To reach headquarters from I-49/U.S. Highway 71, take Route TT east 2 miles to County Road 1600, then south 2 miles.

What to do When You Visit

  • Bird-Watching Included in the National Audubon Society’s Osage River Bottoms Important Bird Area ( Included in the Great Missouri Birding Trail ( Zfb). The eBird list of birds recorded at Four Rivers CA is available at
  • Camping Designated camping sites.
  • Fishing Black bass, catfish, crappie, sunfish, white bass.
  • Hiking No designated trail system, but there is an extensive network of levees and field roads.
  • Hunting Deer and turkey Deer and turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey booklets for current regulations. Also dove, rabbit, quail, and squirrel
  • Waterfowl Hunting Open hunting and morning draw. Waterfowl regulations vary depending on location. Please refer to the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest for current regulations.

What to Look for When You Visit

  • Southern leopard frog
  • Beaver
  • Pectoral sandpiper
  • Great egret

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler