- 50-100 ft
The Lower Grand River Wetland COA has a rich history. It is home to the Locust Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site, the longest of four remaining covered bridges in the state of Missouri; a gem that is listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places in 1970.
Missouri was one of nine states to first enroll in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The WRP is one of a host of voluntary conservation programs for landowners that are supported and administered by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The goal of the WRP is to maximize wetland functions and values, and optimize wildlife habitat “on every acre enrolled…” Whereas the Program is national in scope, Missouri is one of the leading states in both number and area of easements enrolled. Chariton County has the largest acreage of enrollment in the WRP program in Missouri. These private easements are managed throughout the Lower Grand River Wetland COA, and they provide some of the best restored wetland habitat in the state.
- Protects biological diverse wetland flora, fauna and/or their habitat
- Supports significant numbers of wetland-dependent fauna, such as water birds or fish
- Rare or unique wetland type within its own biogeographical region. (Meeting this criteria would include, but is not limited to, wetlands with unique hydrology or chemistry that make it rare within its own region)
Spanning over 53,268 hectares, the Lower Grand River Wetland Conservation Opportunity Area (COA) in north-central Missouri contains a unique combination of floodplain geology, soil and elevation configuration, and hydrological attributes that contribute to the region’s great biodiversity and high productivity. The area contains a combination of 2,400 acres of native bottomland forest, 600 acres of cordgrass prairie, intermixed by shrub swamp, slough, marsh, and oxbow lakes. Wet prairies, a critically imperiled community type in Missouri, can be also be found within the Lower Grand River Wetland COA.
The Lower Grand River Wetland COA includes Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Pershing State Park operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), and Fountain Grove and Yellow Creek Conservation Areas managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDOC). Together, these managed areas, wetlands, and associated uplands provide vital habitat for migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and many other wetland dependent species, representing some of the most premier wetland habitat in the Midwest. Moreover, these areas have important natural resources and a rich diversity of native species. Each of these areas is known for restored wetlands and associated plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and migrating waterfowl. Hunting for deer, turkey, and waterfowl are top recreational activities within the area. Other recreational opportunities include fishing, wildlife observation, photography, environmental education, and interpretation.
Because the Lower Grand River Wetland COA is a nationally recognized migratory bird wintering area with unique and ecologically important wildlife habitat that includes remnant riverine and wetland natural communities once present in northern Missouri, this wetland complex should be considered a national Wetland of Distinction.
- Maintains ecological connectivity/cohesion
- Recreation (birdwatching, ecotourism)
- Flood storage/mitigation
- Inland Fresh Seasonally Flooded Basin/Flat
- Inland Fresh Meadow
- Inland Shallow Fresh Marsh
- Inland Open Fresh Water
- Inland Fresh Shrub Swamp
- Inland Fresh Wooded Swamp
The geology of the area consists of cyclic deposits of Pennsylvanian carbonates, shale and sandstone with minor coal overlain by glacial deposits (loess, till, etc.). Water infiltration through the subsurface is limited by these sequences of geologic strata. No sinkholes or caves have been documented in the basin. Groundwater quality is poor, and no high yield potable bedrock aquifers are available. Wells that terminate in the glacial till above bedrock are low yielding. Only two springs have been documented in the basin. Water movement in the basin is predominantly through the surface stream network and stream base flow is very low during dry periods.
Soils in the Lower Grand River region are mostly alluvium derived from a mixture of loess and glacial till eroded from upland terraces adjacent to floodplains. Soil texture and drainage in the Lower Grand River region vary in relation to position within the alluvial plain or adjacent terraces. Typically, soils nearest the stream/river channels have coarser texture and are moderately to well -drained such as the silty Nodaway, Tice, Dockery, and Wabash soil series. Soils in floodplain depressions and backswamp sites contain mostly clay surfaces and are poorly drained, such as the Zook and Carlow series. Broad transition areas are transitional in texture and drainage, such as the Colo series. Floodplain soils in the Lower Grand River region are neutral to strongly acidic, with no free carbonate rocks. Loess silt loam soils cover most of the broad gently sloping Grand River Hills. Loess has a very low sand content and most soils in this area have silt loam surfaces with silty clay loam or silty clay subsoil. Most soils adjacent to, and on higher elevations in the Lower Grand River region were formed under prairie vegetation and have thick, dark layers. These soils are dominated by Booker, Kennebec, and Dockery silt clay and silt loam types. Soils that formed under savanna or prairie-forest transition areas have thinner surface layers, particularly on lower slopes. Most prairie-type soils have seasonally perched water tables within the clayey subsoil, which dry in summer.