DU and Great Rivers Habitat Alliance Join Forces

Photo © MichaelFurtman.com

Just north of St. Louis, Missouri, lies a unique 291,000-acre wetland system formed where the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers meet-an area known as the Confluence Floodplain. In addition to its importance for floodwater storage and agricultural production, this area has attracted migratory birds for centuries and boasts a rich waterfowl hunting tradition. Urban development is the greatest threat to this region. To address this concern, Ducks Unlimited and its conservation partners are teaming up with farmers, duck clubs, and other land stewards to protect land-use practices important to waterfowl and people.

In the largely privately owned Confluence, local stakeholders' willingness to play a leadership role is essential to conservation success. In 1999, a group of floodplain landowners became extremely concerned about the construction of a 500-year levee to protect a commercial development project alongside some of the best wetland habitat in the Confluence. Garnering support from other conservation interests, the group formed the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance (GRHA) in 2000. The alliance, which now has the support of more than 20 state, federal, and nonprofit organizations, works to protect the floodplain from commercial development.

GRHA and its partners have testified at numerous public hearings and submitted written opposition to planned developments, zoning changes, and annexation proposals in the Confluence. More importantly GRHA has raised public awareness about the floodplain's importance in terms of flood storage, clean water, and agriculture.

Last October, GRHA and Ducks Unlimited came together for an inaugural fundraising event and the signing of a partnership agreement. More than 300 people attended, and the event netted over $130,000 for conservation work in the Confluence through DU's Big Rivers Initiative, under the Migration and Wintering Landscapes priority of the Rescue Our Wetlands campaign. The agreement focuses on a five-year plan for habitat protection and restoration, youth education, and policy efforts impacting the Confluence. This year's event is planned for Thursday, October 1, at Hunter Farms west of St. Louis. For more information, contact DU Director of Development Mike Checkett at 901-277-9118 or mcheckett@ducks.org.