Celebrating the Missouri/Mississippi Rivers
Confluence Conservation Partnership
By Ashley Spratt
The Missouri/Mississippi Rivers Confluence is the convergence of the two largest rivers in North America encompassing nearly 300,000 acres of lands predominantly in private ownership.
The Missouri/Mississippi Rivers Confluence Conservation Partnership seeks to promote a balance between fish and wildlife habitat and agriculture and community development. This private-public partnership is a signature demonstration of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and America's Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative.
Since 2004, the Missouri/Mississippi Rivers Confluence Conservation Partnership has protected more than 21,000 acres of private land, and restored and enhanced more than 8,000 acres of wetland habitat on private land in Pike, Lincoln, St. Charles and St. Louis counties.
These wetlands provide migratory habitat for millions of migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, marsh birds and neotropical migrants in spring and fall. The area also supports 68 state-listed species and five federally-listed plants and animals.
Catastrophic flooding in 1993, 1995 and 2008, combined with urban expansion into the floodplain generated interest from local landowners and organizations to join federal and state agencies to strategically implement conservation programs.
This relationship was the catalyst for motivating landowners to maintain, protect, restore and enhance the open space and natural communities of the Confluence Focus Area (CFA). In response, voluntary programs were made available through existing federal, state and local conservation sources.
Members of the Missouri/Mississippi Confluence Conservation Partnership include the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Missouri Department of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, Missouri Audubon, Pheasant and Quail Forever and private landowners and also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) program was officially established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1987. Service biologists and numerous conservation partners had the vision to look beyond the boundaries of government fee-title holdings and see the need to work cooperatively with private landowners.
They recognized that nearly 73 percent of U.S. lands are in private ownership and a vast majority of federal trust species used these areas during their life cycle. Intense stakeholder outreach concluded that the most effective way to achieve conservation success was to provide direct financial and technical assistance.