Mid Missouri conservation area helps provide flood protection and
5,000-acre Overton Bottoms restores critically needed natural habitat to
ROCHEPORT, Mo -A newly dedicated Central Missouri conservation area will
provide homes for wildlife and help protect human homes from flood waters.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
(COE) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) today unveiled Overton
Bottoms Conservation Area (CA). The area, just south of Rocheport, Mo, is
divided by Interstate 70 and lies on the west bank of the Missouri river.
This area restores approximately 5,000 acres of natural habitat.
Overton Bottoms CA was purchased and developed by the COE as part of its
Missouri River Mitigation Project. That project seeks to restore habitat
lost from the deepening and narrowing of the river. Initiated in 1912, the
Missouri River Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project has resulted in the
construction and maintenance of a 9-foot deep by 300-foot wide navigation
channel on the Missouri from Sioux City, Iowa, to St. Louis. The COE
estimates over 400,000 acres of riparian timber, sandbars, wetlands, shallow
water aquatic habitat and other habitats were lost due to the navigation
The 3,662 acres of Overton Bottoms south of Interstate 70 is managed by the
Missouri Department of Conservation, while the 1,322 acres north of
Interstate 70 is managed by the USFWS. The Congressional legislation that
created the mitigation project requires the COE to provide 100 percent
reimbursement for ongoing management.
Work on Overton Bottoms began in 1998 with acquisition of floodplain
property from willing sellers. Many landowners found it economically
impractical to undo landscape changes caused by the floods of 1993 and 1995.
Flood damage to agricultural lands and riverside towns included destroyed
levees, large scour holes and 7-foot-deep sand deposits.
A feature of Overton Bottom South that could greatly impact riverside
communities is the moving of 4-1/2 miles of levee from the river's edge.
Setting back the levee adds over 900 acres of floodplain, for a total of
more than 2,000 acres, on which the river can spread out during flood
events. The set-back levee will act as a pressure relief valve, increasing
the areas flood storage capacity and reducing flood heights on downstream
agricultural lands and communities.
The MDC and USFWS worked in partnership with the COE to create a habitat
plan for Overton Bottoms. The agencies' shared goals for the project are to
reconnect the floodplain with the Missouri River, restore aquatic and
terrestrial floodplain habitat, and provide opportunities for the public to
enjoy and use the area. Habitat features being restored include seasonal
wetlands, bottomland forests and grasslands.
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