Wetland Management


A variety of waterfowl take flight in a wetland
A blue-winged teal, great blue heron, and other waterfowl wade in the Mertensmeyer wetland.
Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

Wetlands mean different things to different people. Some envision dark, murky swamps, while others think of them as places to enjoy an early morning duck hunt or an afternoon of wildlife watching. A wetland is land that contains adequate soil moisture to support certain types of water-tolerant vegetation. Wetlands vary in type from permanently flooded sloughs to areas that only have saturated soil during part of the year.

Wetlands function as biological filters that remove sediments and pollutants from surface waters. They also act as natural sponges, reducing flood severity by slowly releasing excess water back into the stream or groundwater table. Wetlands are biologically productive, with a greater diversity of plants and animals than is found in drier habitats. 

Historically, natural wetlands dominated the floodplains and river deltas in Missouri. During the past few decades, many were converted to agricultural land. However, many of these fields continue to be too wet to farm, even after they were cleared and drained. These wet fields are the best sites for restoring or developing wetlands on private property. It is important to preserve our few remaining natural wetlands, restore degraded wetlands if feasible, and develop new wetlands wherever possible.

In This Section

Moist-soil Areas

Encourage moist-soil plants in wetland basins by drawing the water from the fields during the growing season.

Flooded Crops

Learn how to manage flooded grain crop fields for migrating waterfowl. 

Timbered Wetlands (Green Tree Reservoirs)

Bottomland forests are an important wetland habitat type. The management plan for a bottomland forest should protect the health of the trees; therefore, no flooding should occur during the growing season.

Wet Prairie, Fens, and Temporary Wetlands

Learn how improve local wetland ecosystems by constructing temporary pools on your property. These wetlands are important breeding sites for amphibians.

Natural Sloughs and Small Ponds

Attract wetland wildlife to your ponds and sloughs through these drawdown techniques and planting suggestions. 

Wetland Wildlife Management

Wetlands are biologically productive, with a greater diversity of plants and animals than is found in drier habitats. Learn how to provide proper habitats for common wetland animals.

Wetland Improvements

Browse tables and tons of management info on how to improve your Missouri marshes for waterfowl and other aquatic life.

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