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Educational Float Trip on the Big Muddy!
Midwest Region, July 11, 2009
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The Columbia FWCO was asked to once again participate in the “Big Canoe Float on the Big Muddy.” This event is organized by the Missouri River Communities Network, a non-profit organization that raises awareness of Missouri River issues. July’s event, with over 100 paddlers, was the second offering of this educational field trip. In September of 2007, the Network organized a similar float trip with participants stopping at several locations along a 15-mile float. However, high winds and multiple presenter stops led to some pretty worn out paddlers at the end of the day.

 

This year’s event was shortened to ten miles and participants stopped at just two islands for presentations. Tim Haller from the Big Muddy NFWR was the first stop; with live turtles in hand, he explained how the adjoining refuge land was important for various plant and animal species. The next stop on the tour was on a large sandbar, locally known as California Island. Presenters from Missouri Department of Conservation talked about the recreational opportunities available on their riverfront conservation areas. Missouri River Relief presented the total tonnage of trash removed from their Missouri River clean-ups. Aaron Delonay with the United States Geological Survey was on hand to talk about their research concerning the federally endangered pallid sturgeon. Columbia FWCO’s Andy Starostka and Andy Plauck had captured some shovelnose sturgeon and showed the audience the peculiar, prehistoric fish. The two fish biologists talked about the ongoing fish monitoring projects on the lower Missouri River. Several different nets were set up and demonstrated to show different fish capture techniques. The live fish were a great “talking tool” since very few people have ever seen a sturgeon face to face. A local historian then finished up with a detailed account of local settlements.

 

This event was a great opportunity for all of the involved agencies to inform people of the work being conducted on the river. All of the participants took time on a Saturday afternoon to go out and use a resource, not commonly used in the Columbia area. Partnering with other agencies for outreach events is a goal of the Fisheries Vision for the Future. Hopefully everyone in attendance learned something about the biology of the Missouri River and its interesting fish!

Contact Info: Andrew Plauck, 573-234-2132 ext 175, Andrew_Plauck@fws.gov



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