MDC asks public to avoid Headwaters Access during construction

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) cautions the public that Headwaters Access, located off S. Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau, is unsafe while construction continues and is closed to public use. Headwaters Access will remain closed until construction is complete.  Anglers and other area users are advised to seek alternative locations, such as Red Star Access or Blockhole Access, until this project is complete.

Construction that began in September of 2018 stalled with the record flooding the area has endured since early spring. Now that flooding has begun to recede, MDC’s area manager for Headwaters Access, Jennifer Behnken, said people have attempted to use the area, which is unsafe.

“Even though the parking lot won’t be flooded when the Mississippi River drops below flood stage, the area isn’t usable,” Behnken said. “There is currently no boat ramp on the area which can present problems for people trying to access the river here.”

Behnken said in addition to waiting for flood waters to completely recede, the water table must also lower for construction activities to move forward.  If the Mississippi River continues to fall, construction will resume. However, the timeline for construction is currently unknown. Once construction is complete, the area will have an expanded parking lot with 33 parking spaces and easier traffic flow design for pulling boats in and out of the area.

MDC leases Headwaters Access from the Little River Drainage District (LRDD) with the purpose of providing fishing and recreational access to the Castor River Diversion Channel, which connects to the Mississippi River. The LRDD approved the addition of the access in 1967 and the original ramp construction occurred in 1969, with the most recent repairs occurring in 2007.

Due to past maintenance challenges, MDC Design and Development Supervisor Ronnie Thurston said the decision was made to construct an all concrete road and parking area. Past high-water events caused structural damages to the ramp, so a new ramp will be constructed and repositioned with a downstream angle. The new angle of the ramp will reduce maintenance needs. Construction involves replacing more than 7,000 square yards of concrete to improve the ramp.

“The new design will reduce bank erosion and maintenance while increasing the parking area and improving ease of public access to the Diversion Channel,” Thurston said.

Behnken and Thurston agree that the public can look forward to using the completed area after construction. For now, they remind users that the access is closed to the public. For additional fishing and river opportunities, visit