About the Refuge

Wetland at Big Muddy

The Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was created in September of 1994 for the development, advancement, management, conservation and protection of fish and wildlife resources.

Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

18500 Brady Lane
Boonville, Missouri 65233

For Refuge specific questions on:

Biology: 660-672-2802 
Visitor services, recreation, outreach, website: 660-672-2806  
Law Enforcement: 660-672-2804
Habitat restoration, farming, invasive plants: 660-672-2802 
Policy and Administration- 660-672-2801

The historic Missouri River was nicknamed the “Big Muddy” because it ran murky with sediments it carried, also created beneficial wildlife habitat.  The rivers ability to carve through its floodplain and create side channels, wetlands and oxbow lakes attracted and sustained wildlife since the retreating of the glaciers over 10,000 years ago. Changes began to occur on the Missouri River soon after the journey of Lewis and Clark described its wildlife and wonders to the world. Over the next century more than 300 steamships sank in the Missouri River. Its murky, swift water hid snags and shallow shoals ready to rip through a ship’s hull. Efforts to control the river began full scale at the turn of the 20th century.  Congress enacted the Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project to control the river by building pile dikes to direct flow and prevent bank erosion.

By 1980, the Missouri River had been channelized 735 miles from Sioux City, Iowa, to St. Louis, Missouri. Channelization reduced fish and wildlife habitat by separating the river from its floodplain.
For more information contact:
Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge
18500 Brady Lane
Boonville, MO  65233