National Fish & Wildlife Refuge
|4200 East New Haven Road
Columbia, MO 65201 - 8709
Phone Number: 573-876-1826
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|The Big Muddy Refuge is allowing the Missouri River to be a river again.|
Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge
The Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is growing. Established in 1994, the refuge has grown to more than 16,000 acres. Like pearls on a string, these acres are spread out as individual units along the Missouri River between Kansas City and St. Louis. These pearls of habitat benefit floodplain-dependent fish and wildlife species. The Big Muddy Refuge is planning to grow to 60,000 acres by buying land from willing sellers who want to see their properties set aside for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of all.
The pre-development Missouri River as documented by Lewis and Clark was considerably different from today's river. The historic Missouri was a broad, slow-moving, shallow river with braided channels. To put it in perspective, Lewis and Clark didn't float up the Missouri River, they pulled and poled their boats up. These past river conditions created a haven for wildlife, which included vast floodplain forests of giant trees, marshes, and even wet prairies. Today's river is channelized. It is deeper and faster, and controlled by levees, dikes, and other containment structures. These controls make the river more navigable and the surrounding floodplain ideal for agriculture.
The Big Muddy Refuge is allowing the Missouri River to revert back to its original conditions. In locations where we have acquired enough land and are not affecting preferred conditions of adjacent private lands, we are allowing the river to enter its floodplain. This occurs during minor flood events. We have created side channels, cut down levees, and allowed the floodplain vegetation to return. Currently, in many places the refuge is an impenetrable thicket of young trees and vegetation, but, as the trees grow and the refuge matures, its appearance will change. The process may take decades or even centuries, but we are committed to the future benefit of fish and wildlife resources in the Missouri River floodplain. Come grow with us.
Getting There . . .
Office Headquarters: To reach the refuge headquarters in Southeast Columbia, MO, take the AC exit off Highway 63; turn east onto New Haven Road. Travel one mile to USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center. The refuge office is located down the third driveway on the right off New Haven Rd.
Jackass Bend Unit: You can reach this unit by driving on Highway 210 six miles east of Missouri City or four miles west of Orrick. Turn south onto Union Road. Follow this road across the railroad tracks about one mile south of the parking area just beyond the levee. The road passes through private property.
Baltimore Bend Unit: Take Highway 23 (Exit 58) off Interstate 70 in Concordia, MO. Follow Highway 23 north 15 miles to Highway 24. Turn left onto Highway 24. Travel approximately one mile to County Road 227. Turn right. Enter the Missouri Department of Conservation Baltimore Bend Conservation Area. Park at the Department of Conservation parking lot at the bottom of the hill. The refuge is located on the other side of the railroad tracks.
Cranberry Bend Unit: To reach the larger east parcel, take Highway T from Grand Pass approximately two miles north. When Highway T makes a sharp turn to the left, turn right onto County Road 407. After another mile you will reach a junction. Stay on County Road 407 to the left. After travelling one-third of a mile further, take a right onto a farm road. A parking area is provided half a mile up this road. The parking area is in the southwest corner of this parcel which is about a half mile wide and one and a half miles long. The Missouri River lies about one and a half miles to the east. The refuge is surrounded by private land so visitors are advised to be aware refuge boundary signs. To reach the smaller parcel, continue on Highway T past county roads 407 and 408. Just pass County Road 408 Highway T turns to gravel. Continue on to where the gravel road ends at County Line Road. Turn right and continue about a half mile further. Stop and park adjacent to the well and storage shed at that point. The refuge is just over the levee. Do not drive on the levee, block the levee, or block access to the storage shed.
Lisbon Bottom Unit: Take Highway 87 (Exit 106) off Interstate 70 in Boonville, Missouri. Follow 87 through downtown Boonville, and cross the Missouri River. Follow Highway 87 for 11 miles to Route K. Turn left on K; travel two miles to the tiny town of Lisbon. Turn right at the church. After approximately one mile, look for the information kiosk and parking area on your right.
Jameson Island Unit: Take Highway 41 (Exit 98) off Interstate 70. Travel 13 miles on Highway 41 to Arrow Rock, MO. Take Main Street through town, and turn left on 2nd Street, which runs along the side of the Lyceum Theater. Drive a quarter mile to the refuge unit and parking lot.
Overton Bottoms North Unit: Take exit 111 off Interstate 70 east of Boonville and west of Columbia, MO. Go north just 100 yards to Hwy 98. Turn right on 98 and drive 2 miles to the unit boundary. There are 4 miles of grvel roads in the unit.
To reach the Loesing upland tract parking area follow the above directions except turn left on 98 and travel 1/2 mile to Brady Lane. Turn right on Brady Lane and follow it 1/2 mile. Continue straight when Brady Lane takes a turn to the right. This road dead ends at the parking lot 1/4 mile ahead.
To reach the Merna tract parking area follow the above directions turning left on 98 and travel 2 milles to Rocheport Road and turn right (look for River Hills Sporting Clays sign). Follow Rocheport Road 1.5 miles to the parking area. Caution: The last half mile of this county road past the private shooting range will require 4 wheel drive under wet or icy conditions.
St. Aubert's Island Unit: This unit does not have any public access except from the Missouri River. The easiest way to access this unit is go to the Mokane Access and boat across the river. Mokane Access is managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation and is located off Highway 94, one mile east of the town of Mokane. The unit lies two and a half miles up river of the Chamois Access, located in the city of Chamois, also managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Boone's Crossing Unit: In Chesterfield take the Chesterfield Airport Road to Spirit of St. Louis Blvd. Turn north. Cross over Interstate 64/40 to North Outer 40 Drive. Turn left, travel about 500 feet, and take the next right into the Chesterfield Athletic Complex playing fields. Drive straight ahead past the playing fields and up and over the levee. At the bottom of the levee take the road to the right to the parking area. An information kiosk is located at the parking area. A loop trail is accessed from the parking area.
Cora Island: Access to Cora Island from the Misouri River with a boat is premitted. A boat access point is located directly across the river from the island at Columbia Bottoms Conservation Area. The refuge boundary is posted along the river with white boundary signs. Located just three miles upstream on the Missouri River from the confluence of the Missouri River the CoraIsland Unit is the refuges eastern most unit. It occupies 1,265 acres mostly on a remnant island of the Missouri River.
Currently access to this unit is limited. The road to the island is gated on private property and there is not place to park. Parking on the adjacent private proerty is posted. The reufge is develping a parking area, when completed it will provide access past the private gate to the parking area. Completion of parking lot expected by the fall of 2010.
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The Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge strives to find innovative ways to return historic floodplain habitat to the Missouri River. This can be as simple as allowing the native vegetation to return on its own and as complex as constructing side channels to the river.
The refuge is challenged with creating a habitat in a few thousand acres that historically took millions of acres to be complete. We work closely with our many neighbors to minimize effects on their private property and yet provide benefits to wildlife on both sides of the line. We also cooperate with other private, State and Federal land management agencies to maximize the shared opportunities to improve and understand the floodplain habitats.
The refuge is dedicated to providing the public opportunities to enjoy the refuge by creating access trails, river access, and wildlife viewing opportunities where appropriate. We participate in public events and make many presentations to increase the public's understanding of the refuge and its diverse management activities.
All land acquisition for the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is from willing sellers. In most cases prospective sellers contact refuge staff. Refuge units have been acquired in eight counties to date and are located along the Missouri River from St. Louis County to Jackson County in the Kansas City metro area, a distance spanning 300 river miles.