“Flush Twice – It’s a Long Way to Eagle Bluffs”
Published: April 9, 2013
Original presentation by Tim James, Wildlife Management Biologist, Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, MDC
Tuesday, April 9 , 2013
Lower floor of the Les Bourgeois Vineyards Bistro
in Rocheport, MO (directions below)
Just south of Columbia, MO, in the McBaine Bottoms is a true Missouri River treasure. Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is one of several intensively managed wetland restoration projects lying in the river floodplain. This 4,431 acre wildlife haven has over 10 miles of river and creek frontage between the Missouri River and Perche Creek. It provides an important stop-over and feeding station for migratory waterfowl and crucial cottonwood forest habitat for migrating songbirds. Its wetland pools also serve as a final treatment for the City of Columbia’s wastewater.
photo courtesy of MDC
From fall through spring, immense flocks of a stunning diversity of waterfowl can be seen here. From bald eagle nests to roosting blue herons, from rafts of American white pelicans to thousands of snow geese and swirling vortexes of red-winged blackbirds, the bird watching is peerless in the area. Late spring brings crowds of warblers and shorebirds. Horned larks flit in front of your car as you drive through.
This diversity is no accident. In order to mitigate for the thousands of acres of wetlands lost during the channelization of the Missouri River and conversion of wetlands to agriculture, the Mo. Dept. of Conservation created Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area to provide this critical wetland habitat in the river bottoms. Pumps throughout the area draw water from the alluvium to fill wetland pools just when the migrating waterfowl need them.
An additional supply of water comes from the City of Columbia wastewater treatment facility. After primary treatment, the wastewater flows to cattail ponds in the bottoms. Eagle Bluffs can then use that water to supplement their wetland pools providing additional bioremediation as well as a crucial watersource. Water level management is timed to provide suitable habitat for migrating birds that meets their life-history needs.
Tim James, wildlife management biologist for the area, shared his story of Eagle Bluffs. How it works, what animals use it and how concerns about water quality in the bottoms may effect wetland management. See links on the right for more info on recent concerns about contamination of Columbia drinking water due to infiltration from wetland wastewater treatment.
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Resources and Links
- Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area
- Area Map (pdf)
- Missouri Waterfowl and Habitat Survey (MDC)
- “Why are there 50,000 snow geese in Mid-Missouri?” by Ben Unglesbee, KBIA, March 15, 2013. Includes super cool footage of snow geese migration at Eagle Bluffs taken by a drone.
- “It’s Heron Time at Eagle Bluffs” by Bill Clark, Columbia Tribune, July 5, 2010
- Map of Columbia Wastewater Treatment and Drinking Water wells (Columbia Missourian)
- City of Columbia info on Eagle Bluffs Wetland Wastewater Treatment
- “Elevated Chloride Levels Suggest Wastewater has Infiltrated Columbia Well Field” by Alicia Stice, Columbia Missourian, July 27, 2012
- “Sewage Project Piques Interest” by Bill Clark, Columbia Tribune, Sept. 30, 2011
- US Geological Survey Reports on water quality in McBaine Bottoms • Full Report 2008 • Initial Report 2002 • Columbia/Eagle Bluffs Wetland Monitoring Project
The Big Muddy Speaker Series in Rocheport
All speakers are presenting for free! Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with us!
The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place monthly in Kansas City and St. Charles.
Marsh Bird Monitoring Opportunity at Eagle Bluffs
The Missouri River Bird Observatory and Audubon Columbia will be hosting a “Marsh Bird Workshop” training program the following two days, April 10-11, at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. You’ll receive training to participate in the 2013 MRBO marsh bird survey. Experienced birders with desire to participate in a long-term project are preferred, but anyone can contact MRBO at email@example.com or 660-886-8788 for details.
* Info on Marsh Bird Survey
* Agenda for April 10-11 training at Eagle Bluffs