Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge Center will soon become an even more welcome destination for wildlife and offer enhanced water quality, thanks to a project led by Ducks Unlimited in Missouri.

Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge Center will soon become an even more welcome destination for wildlife and offer enhanced water quality, thanks to a project led by Ducks Unlimited in Missouri.

The latest project is one of Ducks Unlimited's projects to protect natural habitats in Missouri — the organization conserved almost 4,000 acres of wetland through 12 projects in 2017. A forthcoming overhaul for the Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge will result in the restoration of 2,424 acres of natural habitat. Chris Sebastian, Public Affairs Coordinator with Ducks Unlimited, said the work will help the reserve manager better control the flow of water in and out of the managed wetland — encouraging increased migration and feeding for wildlife like ducks, while improving water quality and reducing flood risks.

The project will include installing berms to help isolate pools within the wetland, replacing the refuge's pump station and installing a special valve for water control. These efforts will replicate natural characteristics that were present before human development began.

The Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge is situated at the Confluence Region of the Illinois, Mississippi and Missouri rivers. For the project, Ducks Unlimited will work with private donors and representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation — a $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant will be matched by project partners with $5.25 million in funds.

The project will focus on water management and restoring natural drainage and flow patterns in the wetlands to bolster migration and feeding for waterfowl including ducks— reflecting Ducks Unlimited's third phase of efforts along a migration area that ducks use each year to travel south from Canada and the Dakotas in the winter and back north in the spring. The project will also provide waterfowl with an increased opportunity to refuel at the Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge.

“The Confluence Region is really big on the priority list,” Sebastian said. “That's a really important migration area for ducks.”

Wetland conservation doesn't just benefit wildlife, Sebastian said, referring to wetlands as “nature's sponges.” He said they not control flooding by slowing down runoff from farms, roads and other areas; they also purify the water by trapping metals and other substances. Sebastian said that Ducks Unlimited's efforts have resulted in conservation of over 150,000 acres in Missouri so far — and the projects would not be possible without support from local, state, federal and private donors from Ducks Unlimited.

“They've really come together,” he said. “It benefits all of us.”

The work at Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge is expected to be completed this fall. To contact the Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge, call 573-847-2333. To learn more about Ducks Unlimited conservation efforts, visit ducks.org and click on the “Conservation” tab.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com