Wetlands, waterfowl, and one long name change.
by Larry Archer
It’s complicated. With an expansion, name change, natural area, and roughly 5,500 acres of managed wetlands, there’s a lot to take in when it comes to Four Rivers Conservation Area (CA).
First is the name. Originally purchased in 1982, Four Rivers CA was renamed the August A. Busch Jr. Memorial Wetlands at Four Rivers Conservation Area in 1999 after an expansion the previous year. The expansion doubled the number of wetland units, making the 13,929- acre area in Vernon and Bates counties a major Midwest destination for waterfowl hunters, said Wildlife Management Biologist Chris Daniel, Four Rivers CA manager.
“That September through January period is typically when the highest public use occurs,” Daniel said. “We’ll have 6,000 to 7,000 waterfowl hunters during duck season.”
The same thing that makes the area a haven for waterfowl hunters also makes it a destination for birders, he said.
“Four Rivers is one of the top 10 places to bird in Missouri in terms of species diversity. August through September are really good times to view shorebirds,” he said. “We typically have some shallow water and exposed mudflats that we manage specifically for shorebirds. When possible, we try to put some of that close to the roads so people can see that.”
“Early to mid-September is a big attractant for early teal season hunters. It’s not uncommon to have 2,000-plus blue-winged teal here. That’s pretty normal at some point during the migration, but it doesn’t always correspond with the early teal season.”
—Four Rivers CA Manager Chris Daniel
Four Rivers Conservation Area consists of 13,929 acres in Vernon and Bates counties. The area is located about 15 miles north of Nevada and 5 miles south of Rich Hill. To reach headquarters from I-49/U.S. Highway 71, take Route TT east 2 miles to County Road 1600, then south 2 miles.
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