MDC to remove Howell Island Causeway and convert area to boat-in only access

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Saint Louis
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CHESTERFIELD, Mo.—The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is removing the causeway to Howell Island Conservation Area on the Missouri River in St. Louis County.  The causeway currently sits atop a Corps of Engineers’ water control structure and spans the Centaur Chute, connecting the island to a parking lot on North Eatherton Road. 

MDC is removing the causeway due to increased flooding over the past 15 years, that has resulted in costly repairs and increased maintenance.  The underlying water control structure will remain in place. The removal project is currently underway and being performed by an MDC contractor.  Once the causeway is removed, Howell Island will offer boat-in access only from the Missouri River. 

The island has been accessible by foot only when the Missouri River level was 16 feet or lower on the St. Charles gauge.  However, prolonged high river levels have greatly reduced the opportunity for walk-in access across the causeway.  According to MDC, during a recent 12 ½-year period, water covered the causeway 49% of the time, and 60% of the time of the last 4 ½ years of that period.  The area was inaccessible by foot during those times.

High river events in 2019, 2020, and 2021 have destroyed a large portion of the concrete covering, causing MDC to restrict public access across the causeway.

The concrete causeway structure along with the metal culvert pipes will be removed.  After the project is completed, the underlying rock foundation will remain and will resemble its original state before the concrete cap was added. 

The removal of the causeway will eliminate walk-in access, but the area will remain open for access by boat.  Those looking to access the island can utilize the Weldon Spring Conservation Area Boat Ramp off Highway 94 in St. Charles County.

The 2,547-acre Howell Island Conservation Area was purchased by MDC in 1978. The island is mostly forested with bottomland trees such as cottonwood and sycamore and shrub/grass fields.  Howell island continues to provide essential wildlife habitat.