National Wildlife Refuge
|3720 Rivers Way
Ft. Calhoun, NE 68023
Phone Number: 402-468-4313
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|Wildflowers in bloom on a restored native prairie at Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge.|
Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge
Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established to recover fish and wildlife habitat in and along the Missouri River. The purpose of the Boyer Chute Restoration Project is to restore essential wildlife habitat that became scarce when the Missouri River was "improved" for navigation half a century ago. River channelization, wetland drainage, and conversion of river bottom floodplain areas to agricultural, industrial, and municipal uses had resulted in the loss of over 500,000 acres of habitat along the navigable stretch of the Missouri River floodplain.
The Boyer Chute project is a joint Federal and local conservation partnership success story. The project has restored the area to near pre-channelization condition without affecting navigation on the main stem of the Missouri River. Boyer Chute is once again a functioning part of the river. Close to 3,350 acres of floodplain woodland, tallgrass prairie, and wetland habitats now benefit Missouri River fishes, migratory birds, endangered species, and resident wildlife.
Getting There . . .
Boyer Chute NWR is located on the west side of the Missouri River, 3 miles east of the town of Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, and 15 miles north of Omaha. From Omaha or Blair, follow Highway 75 to the southernmost street (Madison Street) within the Fort Calhoun city limits. Watch for the Boyer Chute NWR sign. Turn east and proceed to the stop sign at the "T" intersection. Turn right onto County Road 34 and proceed approximately 3 miles to the Refuge main gate.
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To create the dynamic refuge you see today, it was first necessary to readjust effects of previous engineering projects. In 1937, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cut off the upstream end of Boyer Chute to enhance the river's main navigation channel. Culverts were installed in the upstream cutoff wall to allow some water to enter the chute, but sediments accumulated, and a forest gradually took hold in and along the chute.
Management activities revolve primarily around habitat restoration. Upland restoration has been ongoing since 1993 with the objective of emulating historic habitat. It is reasonable to assume that the floodplain historically contained a mixture of riparian forest and vast expanses of grassland. To that end, most of the Refuge uplands have been seeded to native prairie grasses and forbs. Upland restoration provides critical habitat for grassland-dependent migratory species such as bobolinks and dickcissels.
Wetland restoration beyond the chute itself began in 1997. As tracts of land are acquired, old river scars and associated wetlands are being restored by removing layers of silt and constructing low level dikes. Wetlands such as these provide habitat for a whole suite of species that depend on wetlands for survival. Restoration of other chutes and river banks to create shallow water habitat will be a major focus in the coming years.