U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

great blue heron walking in water
24279 State Highway 51
Puxico, MO   63960
E-mail: mingo@fws.gov
Phone Number: 573-222-3589
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
A great blue heron hunts for food in one of the refuge's marshes.
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Continued . . .

With the shift of the Mississippi River from the basin to the east side through Crowley's Ridge to Ohio River some 18,000 years ago, the fertile abandoned riverbed developed into a rich and fertile swamp.

Settlers in the early 1800s were attracted to the area and soon began to exploit the vast stands of cypress and tupelo forest. A booming lumber industry developed, and the clearing and draining of swampland soon depleted the resources of the area. Large drainage ditches etched the landscape, and farming practices followed.

Only marginally successful, the expensive drainage projects deforested hundreds of thousands of acres of hardwood marshes in southeastern Missouri. By the 1930s, the economic and ecological cost of the undertakings proved too much. Poor farming and grazing techniques, expensive drainage projects, and numerous fires bankrupted the Mingo Drainage District during the Great Depression, and left the Mingo Basin greatly impacted.

By 1944, the determination to save remnants of hardwood forest and a desire for the return of the former biological diversity prompted the purchase of lands that would form the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. Today, the refuge is managed for wildlife habitat and people. The primary purpose of the 21,592-acre refuge is to provide food and shelter for migratory waterfowl and protect the bottomland hardwood forest. The establishment of the Mingo Wilderness Area in 1976 helps ensure this protection for future generations of Americans.

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