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Cooperative Conservation in action
Midwest Region, October 8, 2008
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Joyce Collins, Assistant Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, accepts a Partnership Award from Jenny Frazier, Mississippi River Program Director for the American Land Conservancy. USFWS photo by Kevin Lowry.
Joyce Collins, Assistant Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, accepts a Partnership Award from Jenny Frazier, Mississippi River Program Director for the American Land Conservancy. USFWS photo by Kevin Lowry. - Photo Credit: n/a
Google Earth photograph of Windy Bar, located in the Middle Mississippi River, approximately 5 miles upstream of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Google Earth photograph of Windy Bar, located in the Middle Mississippi River, approximately 5 miles upstream of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. - Photo Credit: n/a
The American Land Conservancy presents partnership awards to conservation partners. Pictured left to right: Jenny Frazier, American Land Conservancy; John Hoskins, Director, Missouri Department of Conservation; Bill Cavins, Cypress Creek LLC; Joyce Collins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. USFWS photo by Kevin Lowry.
The American Land Conservancy presents partnership awards to conservation partners. Pictured left to right: Jenny Frazier, American Land Conservancy; John Hoskins, Director, Missouri Department of Conservation; Bill Cavins, Cypress Creek LLC; Joyce Collins, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. USFWS photo by Kevin Lowry. - Photo Credit: n/a

On October 8, 2008, Joyce Collins, Assistant Field Supervisor at the Marion, Illinois, Ecological Services Sub-Office, was on hand to witness cooperative conservation in action.  The American Land Conservancy hosted a dedication event for the Missouri Department of Conservation's acquisition of Windy Bar, a 705-acre island located a short distance upstream of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, along the Middle Mississippi River. 

For more than 18 years, natural resource agencies and conservation groups have been working to protect Windy Bar.  The term "river time" is used quite frequently by folks working along the Mississippi River.  It has a lot to do with the long length of time it sometimes takes to get things done.  For some biologists, this is can be a continual source of frustration.  However, others have accepted it as a positive.  Opportunities that do not exist in the present are always lurking around the corner in the future.  For this reason planning efforts, such as those by the Middle Mississippi River Partnership, do not just think about conservation actions in the short term, but plan for the long term!

Windy Bar is situated in the Cape Hills Conservation Opportunity Area identified in the Missouri Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy and was a high priority acquisition for Missouri Department of Conservation.  With financial assistance from the Fish and Wildlife Service's Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, MDC was able to purchase Windy Bar from the conservancy.   ALC took the opportunity to purchase the island when it was offered for sale by Bill Cavins with Cypress Creek LLC and held it until the details of the purchase could be worked out with MDC. 

Cottonwood and willow forests, wetlands, sand bars and riparian areas on the island provide exceptional fish and wildlife habitat.  Windy Bar is frequented by many migratory birds and is an important resource for contributing to the recovery of endangered species, like pallid sturgeon, least terns and Indiana bats.  The side channel associated with Windy Bar, called Schenimann Chute, has long been slated for aquatic habitat restoration by the Corps of Engineers, Service and MDC.  The proposed project involves dike notching, chevron construction and dredging to increase depth diversity, improve connectivity to the main channel and enhance water quality.  The project waits funding through the Navigation and Environmental Sustainability Program authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007.

With its proximity to Cape Girardeau, Windy Bar has great potential for introducing many people to the riches of the Middle Mississippi River.  The acquisition complements an earlier ALC project that protected 2,741-acres of Devil's Island, just across the river from Windy Bar.  Residents and visitors can enjoy two publicly accessible properties on both sides of the river just 5 miles north of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. 

However, that does not complete the conservation actions needed for this reach of the Middle Mississippi.  Marquette Island, located just across the river and downstream of Cape Girardeau, supports nesting least terns during most years.  Flooding this spring resulted in pallid sturgeon having access to foraging and resting habitat located within Marquette Chute.  This area presents another opportunity for cooperative conservation on the Middle Mississippi River.

ALC presented the Fish and Wildlife Service with a Partnership Award for our participation in this cooperative conservation project.  We can be excited about this project, enjoy the fruits of our labor and be hopeful for the future of the Middle Mississippi River because of the strong partnerships that have made it possible.  While some things may come slowly (in "river time"), with patience we can persevere and do great things for fish and wildlife resources along the river.  That's what it is all about!


Contact Info: Joyce Collins, 618/997-3344 ext. 340, joyce_collins@fws.gov



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