MDC's Columbia Bottom Conservation Area closes due to flooding

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Saint Louis
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ST. LOUIS, Mo.—The Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Columbia Bottom Conservation Area in Spanish Lake is closing today because MDC officials anticipate water overtopping the Mississippi River levee south of the area.

"Since floodwaters are currently up against the main levee on the river side, we are closing the area in advance of flooding as a proactive step should a levee failure occur," said MDC Wildlife Regional Supervisor John Vogel. The area's canoe and kayak access on the Mississippi River was closed Wednesday.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), as of June 19 the Missouri River is in moderate flood stage at St. Charles with a crest of 32.4 feet forecasted on Saturday. The river is projected to remain at moderate flood stage through Sunday. The Mississippi River at St. Louis is also at moderate flood stage and forecasted to remain there through Monday. NWS predicts the Mississippi will crest at 36.7 feet on Saturday.

"Water will be flowing over the levee on the south side of the area and flooding will occur when the Mississippi River reaches 35.5-36 feet sometime in the next 12 hours," Vogel forecasted.

"The Visitor Center will remain open to the public, but there will be no access onto the conservation area until there is no longer a risk of flooding and cleanup operations have been completed," he said.

Flooding is a natural process and was historically common on the area because it lies at the Confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Columbia Bottom has flooded twice in the past decade, with flood events occurring in 2008 and 2013.

A number of MDC river accesses in the area are also flooding. MDC urges caution near any rivers and large creeks during flood conditions. Anglers, boaters and floaters should re-evaluate any plans they may have for activities on the water in the near future. High water levels, swift currents and floating debris can be especially hazardous. Hikers and campers should be aware that sudden rises in creeks and streams could leave them stranded with no way to cross, or flash-flood low-lying campsites.

Low water stream crossings in rural areas and on conservation areas are particularly dangerous for motorists. The NWS says almost half of flash flood fatalities are vehicle-related. Drivers can lose control of their vehicles in as little as six inches of water, and the current in two feet of water is enough carry most vehicles away.

For current information regarding closures on MDC areas, consult the "Conservation Areas" link at