DU improves 2,000 acres at Loess Bluffs refuge

Eagles, ducks and swans at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge.

© Angie Orr

Eagles, ducks and swans at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge.

Ducks Unlimited has helped bring a consistent supply of water to Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri, a 7,000-acre refuge comprised of wetlands, grasslands and forests reserved primarily as feeding and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.

The project installed wells in areas of the refuge critical to migrating birds. The wells are in areas that have proven difficult to supply water through existing infrastructure, and will provide water to nearly 2,000 acres of wetlands.

The first well is in the northeast portion of the refuge, near 350 acres of moist soil units. The second is located on the west boundary of the refuge and provide water to three managed units totaling 424 acres. These are seasonal wetlands that are shallowly flooded during fall and spring migration and heavily used by foraging waterfowl and shorebirds. The final well is on the south end of the refuge, improving 1,200 acres.

The project’s next phase will be to construct a new berm across the north side of the Eagle Pool. DU expects to design the 6,000-foot-long berm in 2020 and construct it in 2021.

Infrastructure upgrades give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the tools needed to provide quality habit for hundreds of species of plants and animals, including more than 400 bald eagles which reside at the refuge. In late 2020, 1.3  million snow geese were observed at the refuge.

Several partners collaborated on this project, including the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative, River Bluffs Audubon Society, National Wild Turkey Federation Audubon Society of Missouri, and Columbia Audubon Society. Enel Green Power North America Inc. also committed $100,000 to Ducks Unlimited to enhance the refuge, near the organization’s Rock Creek wind project in Atchison County.