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NEVADA, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Ducks Unlimited (DU) have partnered on the installation of a $6.4 million pump station at Schell-Osage Conservation Area in northeastern Vernon County.

This is the first phase of three in a long-planned wetland and lake renovation. The project will improve the area’s wetlands for a variety of waterfowl, shore birds, and water birds. The changes will increase opportunities for hunters, birders, wildlife watchers, and anglers across 8,634 acres of public land.

“Schell-Osage has been a great resource for many people,” MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley said at a groundbreaking ceremony this week. “This first phase involving the pump station, in combination with the wetland and lake phases, will help ensure it continues to be a treasured resource into the future.”

Schell-Osage sits along the Osage River and is one of MDC’s oldest conservation areas. But much has changed since wetland development began and pools were opened for waterfowl hunting in the 1960s. Weather events and highwater levels in Truman Lake caused repetitive and expensive flood damage to Schell-Osage levees.

DU has been a vital partner in planning and implementing the renovation, along with the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative, Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, Greater Ozarks Audubon Society, and Missouri Birding Society.

“It’s not easy to undertake a project on a dynamic ecosystem such as this,” said Mark Flaspohler, DU conservation program director. “Thanks to all our partners. It wouldn’t have happened without you.”

The permanent concrete pump station, which will be built starting May 1, will draw water from the Osage River. This source replaces water from Schell Lake and Atkinson Lake as well as portable pumps into Truman Lake, which were not efficient, safe or reliable. The pump station will give area managers better control to fill wetland pools during fall and spring waterfowl migrations, and it will reduce water level fluctuations in Schell and Atkinson lakes.

In the next phases, new wetland levees will promote a natural hydrology of the wetland. Schell Lake will also be renovated, creating more water depths to enhance the fishery. An improved boat ramp and new jetties around the perimeter will increase access for anglers. The Schell-Osage project is the final one in MDC’s Golden Anniversary Wetlands Initiative to improve the state’s five oldest wetland management areas. Fountain Grove, Duck Creek, Montrose and Ted Shanks Wetland Management Areas were the other public sites to be addressed.

“MDC has long been committed to creating and maintaining quality habitat for all wildlife,” Flaspohler said. “Over 90% of Missouri is privately owned, but the state has done a superb job of creating valuable access for outdoorsmen and women on its public lands for decades.”

Media Contact:

Joe Genzel

(309) 453-0979