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Flood of 2008: From Devastation to Conservation
Midwest Region, October 9, 2008
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Annada, Missouri residents deal once more with devastating floods. 
- USFWS Photo by Dave Ellis
Annada, Missouri residents deal once more with devastating floods.

- USFWS Photo by Dave Ellis

- Photo Credit: n/a
Clarence Cannon NWR staff check on the spillway as flood waters start to enter the refuge. (L-R: Alan Lagemann, Dave Ellis, Curtis Parsons, Carolyn Gregory, Kurtis Pursley) 
- USFWS Photo by Candy Chambers
Clarence Cannon NWR staff check on the spillway as flood waters start to enter the refuge. (L-R: Alan Lagemann, Dave Ellis, Curtis Parsons, Carolyn Gregory, Kurtis Pursley)

- USFWS Photo by Candy Chambers

- Photo Credit: n/a
Great egrets forage on the concentration of frogs along the levee tops. 
- USFWS Photo by Dave Ellis
Great egrets forage on the concentration of frogs along the levee tops.

- USFWS Photo by Dave Ellis

- Photo Credit: n/a
A carpet of nutsedge, as well as other desireable plants, blanket the refuge. 
- USFWS photo by Candy Chambers
A carpet of nutsedge, as well as other desireable plants, blanket the refuge.

- USFWS photo by Candy Chambers

- Photo Credit: n/a
From devastation... 
- USFWS photo by Alan Lagemann
From devastation...

- USFWS photo by Alan Lagemann

- Photo Credit: n/a
To conservation! 
- USFWS photo by Alan Lagemann
To conservation!

- USFWS photo by Alan Lagemann

- Photo Credit: n/a

The flood of 2008 caused a great deal of damage and disruption to personal, business and agricultural property along the Mississippi river and major tributaries.  Wildlife was also greatly affected and while some animals were displaced or even killed, others benefited from this "natural" event.

Early in the flood, water entered the Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge through a spillway constructed in the levee surrounding the refuge.  Nearly 42,000 acre-feet of water was stored within the refuge levee and our hopes are that this helped to lessen some of the damage experienced in nearby communities.

As the flooding subsided and water was released from the refuge, wildlife use flourished.  In August and September exposed mudflats provided essential resting and feeding habitat for over 10,000 migrating shorebirds.  Bird watchers identified over 20 different species, many of which are rarely seen on the refuge.  Hudsonian and marbled godwits, buff-breasted sandpiper, red-necked phalarope, black-necked stilt, golden plover and upland sandpiper were just a few of the species on display.  However spectacular the shorebirds may have been, refuge staff heard more from visitors about the thousands of wading birds (herons and egrets) feasting on the explosion of frogs, fish, crayfish and other small critters that followed the flooding.

As the waters continued to recede, mudflats were replaced by carpets of lush, new vegetation.  Millets, nutsedges, smartweeds and other wet tolerant plants burst onto the scene.  These plants were able to thrive late in the growing season due to the absence of competitive plants, such as cocklebur and velvetleaf, and their ability to grow and produce seed within a short period of time.  Property around the refuge where water either slowly receded and/or still remains also experienced a similar result.  These natural moist-soil plants will be a great benefit for migrating waterfowl as they feed on these highly nutritious plants.

The receding floodwaters captured within refuge wetland units have already received a great deal of use by teal and other early migrating waterfowl – more than in "dry" years.  Additionally this "free" water will help significantly reduce the time and money spent to pump water on the refuge this fall.

All-in-all… Mother Nature is adjusting well to the flooding this summer.  After all it is a part of the natural cycle of the floodplain.


Contact Info: Candace Chambers, 573.847.2333, candy_chambers@fws.gov



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