MDC land acquisitions in Pemiscot County mean more public use opportunities

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has purchased 4,278 acres as an addition to the Stephen C. Bradford Unit of Black Island Conservation Area (CA) in Pemiscot County. The land also adjoins the Wolf Bayou Unit of the area on the northwest side.

According to Pemiscot County Conservation Agent Brian Shelton, the land was purchased to create more opportunity for public use and to improve connectivity of the areas alongside the Mississippi River.

"The plans for this area are to give the public an opportunity to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors," Shelton said. "The existing habitat on the land is primarily bottomland hardwood forest, reconstructed wetland pools, and Robinson's Lake."

In addition to creating opportunities for recreational use, the additional conservation area is an opportunity for more wildlife habitat development. Before the transfer of land to the MDC, it was a tree farm owned by Westvaco Paper Company, Shelton said.

Black Island CA has great biodiversity according to Shelton, as it supports numerous species of conservation concern. The added acres tie several smaller land tracts together including several natural communities, riverfront forestland, wet bottomland forest, oxbows and sloughs. Because of this diverse habitat, the area is used by numerous neo-tropical migrant songbird species throughout the year and hosts thousands of waterfowl and other wetland birds through the fall and spring migrations. A multitude of game species live on the area and have benefited from habitat improvements over the last few decades, according to Shelton.

Shelton said deer hunting on Back Island CA is similar to other conservation areas, with statewide deer hunting regulations for the 2015-2016 deer season applying with a restriction of antlered deer only with a firearm.

Along with the purchase of this tract of land, a previously purchased 419 acre tract located on the SE corner of Black Island CA to west of the Desoto Unit will open to public use this year. It also contains bottomland hardwoods and an old Mississippi River channel that the locals refer to as Crow's Hole. The regulations for the area will be archery only for deer and all other statewide regulations apply.

To get to the Stephen C. Bradford Unit of Black Island CA, take the Hayti I-55 exit, then take Highway 84 east, then County Road 337 north, and County Road 338 east. More information about Black Island and Wolf Bayou Conservation Areas can be found at