This Bog's for You
by Scott Manley and Ross Melinchuk, Ducks Unlimited, Inc.,
and Jane Epperson, Missouri Department of Conservation
Less than 15 miles east of the Missouri-Kansas border in Vernon and Bates Counties lies the confluence of four rivers: the Osage, Little Osage, Marmaton, and Marias des Cygnes. Historically, this sprawling landscape represented a vast mosaic of prime wildlife habitats including wet prairie, emergent and shrub marsh, bottomland hardwood forests, and upland prairies. Fall and winter rains drove a natural cycle of flooding that once supported an immense wetland complex attracting hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese, and other migratory birds from the Central and Mississippi Flyways.
Humans have altered the natural geography of four river area over the past 100 years, but today, they are pledging to restore it. A coalition of corporations, private conservation groups, government agencies, and private landowners have joined forces to rededicate the four-rivers area to the wildlife creatures that once thrived amid the forests, wetlands, and uplands and to the people who enjoy the great outdoors.
The restoration of Four Rivers Conservation Area (Four Rivers) began in the 1980s when the Missouri Department of Conservation acquired two tracts totaling 7,000 acres along the Little Osage and Osage Rivers. Today, these areas have been linked by a third tract to form a contiguous mosaic of wildlife habitat totaling more than 14,000 acres. The area now represents one of the most valuable wetlands in the mid-continent.
Four Rivers is dedicated to waterfowl and other wildlife and also to the memory and honor of August A. Busch, Jr., a true conservationist and steward of the great outdoors. On what would have been his 100th birthday, a landmark fund-raising event supported by the Busch family, their national network of wholesale distributors, and Ducks Unlimited, Inc., generated $4.5 million to support not only the Four Rivers project but also other projects in Missouri and surrounding states. The area has been renamed the August A. Busch Jr. Memorial Wetlands at Four Rivers Conservation Area, a fitting tribute to an extraordinary man.
The August A. Busch, Jr., memorial project was successful due to the partnerships involved and the help they received from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (Act) grants program. Partners have received three Act grants since 2000, totaling more than $3 million, which supported acquisition, restoration, and enhancement activities. Nine partners expended nearly $16.9 million in matching and federal non-matching funds during the project's three phases.
The area now supports 260 bird species, of which one-third are neotropical migrants. Two Federally endangered and one threatened species along with 24 species of birds and plants listed as State-endangered or threatened will benefit from the project. In addition to 27 species of waterfowl, the area supports almost 40 species of wetland-dependent migratory birds, 50 species of non-game fish, 40 species of mammals, and 70 kinds of reptiles and amphibians. The August A Busch Jr. Memorial Wetlands at Four Rivers Conservation Area is an extraordinary example of what conservation partnerships can accomplish for the benefit of wildlife and the people that enjoy them.
For more information, contact Scott Manley, Ducks Unlimited Tri-state Initiative
c/o Missouri Department of Conservation
2302 County Park Drive, Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701
(573) 290-5730 extension 258
or Jane Epperson, Missouri Department of Conservation
P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, Missouri 65102