Flooding affects some waterfowl areas in northwest Missouri

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St. Joseph, Mo. –  Flood damage will affect opportunities for waterfowl hunters this fall and winter at Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wildlife areas managed with a wetland emphasis. The good news is that the popular Nodaway Valley and the east pools of the Fountain Grove conservation areas should offer normal hunting conditions, if the weather cooperates. The outlook is not as good for areas in the Missouri River bottomlands.

The west side wetlands and water control structures at Nodaway Valley Conservation Area in Holt and Andrew Counties are not damaged and will offer normal hunting conditions, said Craig Crisler, MDC wildlife management biologist. The wetlands on the east side of the Nodaway River may offer normal conditions, unless heavy rains create flooding through levee breaches on that side.

“We still have the ability to pump water,” Crisler said. “Our moist soil plants are doing good. Our hunting blinds are still available.”

Moist-soil plant production has been good this summer at the Fountain Grove Conservation Area in Livingston and Linn counties. Those wetland plants provide food and cover for migrating waterfowl. No production corn or soybeans were planted in wetland units this year. But food plots were planted in wetland complexes on the area’s east and west sides.

Water will only be pumped into the area’s east-side wetland complex. The scheduled construction of a new pump station and drainage system will prevent pumping water this autumn for the west-side wetlands and pools. However, water from rainfall or Parson Creek rises will be held in pools if possible. This is a major construction project to improve wetland habitat management on the area, and it is expected to be completed before 2021 waterfowl seasons.

Flood damage will hamper waterfowl hunting opportunities in the Missouri River bottoms.

At the Bob Brown Conservation Area near Forest City, Missouri River levees remain breached. Roads are in bad shape and repairs to those roads await repairs to the levees. Currently, hunters are not able to drive beyond the campground area that is near the area’s entrance. MDC staff hopes to have improved access by waterfowl season. There will not be a morning draw system for hunting positions this waterfowl season. Hunter will self-register near the entrance.

“Due to flood damage, we will not be able to pump water this fall,” Crisler said. “The amount of water in the pools will rise and fall with the Missouri River due to numerous levee breaches. There’s no cover to speak of, it’s either open water or mud flats in the pools.”

All normal hunting regulations for the Bob Brown Conservation Area remain in place, including the 1 p.m. closure for waterfowl hunting, waterfowl refuge dates and boundaries, as well as all other area special regulations. For updated information regarding access to the area, current hunting procedures, and other information, call 660-446-2694 to listen to a pre-recorded message.

Most of the other conservation areas that MDC manages along the Missouri River in Atchison and Holt counties are essentially unavailable to hunters because flood damage to public roads and bridges in the river bottoms prevents access, Crisler said.

“For most of our areas along the river north of Forest City, access is difficult if not impossible,” he said. “Still, all our special area regulations apply.”

For more information on MDC conservation areas that offer public access for hunting, visit https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places.