Ducks Unlimited partners improve nearly 2,000 acres in Missouri for water quality and wildlife habitat

Ducks Unlimited Kerry Scott and Chris Daniel with MDC engineer at Schell Osage Conservation Area

Ducks Unlimited and numerous partners invested more than $575,000 to protect, enhance or restore 1,926 acres of wetland and grassland habitat in Missouri in 2020, greatly improving water quality and wildlife habitat.

The milestones in 2020 were achieved with field staff taking extra precautions and using creative solutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The acres conserved added to a sizeable historical investment in Missouri. Over the last 30 years, Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 120,000 wetland and grassland acres across the state, investing more than $21 million in wetland habitats.

Numerous partners contributed to the projects, with funding from foundations, corporate partners, state and federal programs, and DU sponsors. 

“Nearly 70% of Missouri’s historic wetlands, and 90% in key locations, have been lost due to human development,” said Mark Flaspohler, director of DU’s Big Rivers Initiative and DU biologist for Missouri. “Our landscape-level conservation efforts help more than ducks. Wetlands benefit local residents by reducing flooding risk, improving water quality, and boosting the economy.” 

Highlights from 2020 include:

  • Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge – In 2020 Ducks Unlimited completed its Lower Grand River Basin North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) project at Swan Lake in Chariton County. The overall project enhanced 1,110 wetland acres, restored 487 new wetland acres, and restored 293 new native grass acres.
  • Schell Osage Conservation Area – Since receiving an initial NAWCA grant in 2018, DU and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) have accumulated extra data on the project which has greatly broadened its scope. This has resulted in significantly more engineering time spent on developing final conceptual plans for the overall project, which will restore 96 acres and enhance another 3,839 acres. Ducks Unlimited and the MDC are leading the Schell project with 13 other conservation partners to improve the 8,600-acre property on the west-central side of Missouri along the banks of the Osage River. This is the last of Missouri’s five Golden Anniversary Wetlands Initiative projects.
  • Missouri Agriculture Wetland Initiative (MAWI) – The MAWI continues to provide a successful private lands partnership with DU, MDC, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and private landowners being key partners driving big conservation numbers. To date, the partnership has delivered 53 projects on the Missouri landscape. These projects directly restored 1,785 acres of native wetland habitats and enhanced flooding opportunity on another 1,278 acres of adjacent row crop fields. 

For a complete report of 2020 activities and a look into what’s planned for 2021 and beyond, see Missouri’s Conservation Report or visit the Ducks Unlimited website.