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Master Naturalists Tour the Big Muddy NFWR
Midwest Region, August 19, 2010
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Tim Haller (at door of trailer) of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge addresses the group of Missouri Master Naturalists prior to the start of the Missouri River Tour. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Tim Haller (at door of trailer) of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge addresses the group of Missouri Master Naturalists prior to the start of the Missouri River Tour. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo) - Photo Credit: n/a
Andy Staroska from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office pilots a boat for the Master Naturalists tour of the Big Muddy. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Andy Staroska from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office pilots a boat for the Master Naturalists tour of the Big Muddy. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo) - Photo Credit: n/a
Branch Chief Wyatt Doyle of the Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office demonstrates the proper techniques to utilize Asian Carp for human consumption. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Branch Chief Wyatt Doyle of the Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office demonstrates the proper techniques to utilize Asian Carp for human consumption. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo) - Photo Credit: n/a

On a sultry evening on August 19th members of the Boones Lick Chapter of the Missouri Master Naturalists received a unique tour of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.  The tour departed from Katfish Katies a private boat ramp and campground on the banks of the Missouri River and across the river from the Refuge.  The tour consisted of a boat ride through the Tadpole chute of the refuges Overton Bottoms South Unit just west of Columbia, Missouri.  The Overton Bottoms South Unit consists of 3,662 acres included as part of the refuge recently in December 2009. 

 

The chute, constructed 5-6 years ago, by the US Army Corps of Engineers is part of the Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project Wildlife Mitigation Project.  The chute is over a mile long and recent floods over the past couple years have improved the habitat within the chute.   Active erosion of the banks of the chute diversifies the habitat by creating a side channel of the Missouri River that has various depths and substrates that will benefit fish and wildlife. 

 

The naturalists have been volunteering for the refuge for numerous years and the interest in the chute was evident as 35 individuals signed up to take the tour.  After the hour long tour through the chute and as the evening cooled toward dusk back at the boat ramp the naturalists were given the opportunity to observe three different presentations. 

 

Wedge Watkins Refuge Biologist provided information about ongoing biological monitoring being conducted on the refuge.  Monitoring highlighted included a survey on bees and an aquatic survey for amphibians and turtles.  Several of the naturalists helped on the bees survey during the past two summers.  Watkins conveyed information on how these surveys can help determine long term effects such as climate change and species decline. 

 

Wyatt Doyle, Andy Staroska, Colby Wrasse and Adam McDaniel from the USFWS Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation office were also on hand to help pilot boats and at the boat ramp present their ongoing monitoring of fish species in the Missouri River.  They had numerous live species of fish caught that day to show the Naturalists.  Always a hit is the unusual shovelnose sturgeon.  A more common and look alike relative of the endangered pallid sturgeon.   

 

A final presentation by Tim Haller Refuge Visitor Services Specialist provided an opportunity for Naturalists to learn about additional Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Projects on the Missouri River.  A scale model of another larger mitigation project on the refuge was on display in a trailer.  This display gave them a unique perspective of how the sediment transport occurs and how the control structures in the river work to keep the river channelized.  Models like the one displayed are used by the Corps of Engineers to design Fish and Wildlife Mitigation projects like Tadpole Chute. 

 

The presentation and river tour for the Missouri Master Naturalists concluded with a brilliant red sunset on the banks of the river.  The Refuge and Columbia Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office can look forward to continued volunteered support from this great group of volunteer naturalists. 


Contact Info: Tim Haller, 573-441-2799, tim_haller@fws.gov



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