by John George, Missouri Department of Conservation
Hi all! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer – or at least finding some ways to survive the drought!
I know our folks have already felt like they have had a long hot (and dry) summer and we are only half
way through it. But, with it turning into July we thought it would be time to provide you all with our
2023 summer update on area management at Eagle Bluffs.
If you have been down to the area this summer you will see that we finally completed the willow tree
removal from the upper distribution channel. Again – this was done so that we could be in a better
position down the road in managing this area and controlling invasive species that threaten the area –
specifically Japanese hops. We have been through this tree removal area a couple times already this
summer spraying patches of hops that keep popping up – but – following some research from the east
coast – we have found some herbicide that seems to quite effective on Japanese hops and we are
hopeful that with the ability to now effectively treat it with herbicide and – once the pumps are repaired
– manage this site with water that we will be in a position to better manage this area. Ultimately – we
are trying to make this part of the area more manageable that will provide additional wildlife viewing
opportunities for the public.
I mentioned repairing the pumps. We are still working toward having functioning pumps this fall. We
currently have one river pump repaired. We are still planning on having the second pump back in place
by the end of August – resulting in us being back to operating under our normal ability to put water out
on the area in September/October. Of course, we have still been receiving water from the City of
Columbia through the spring and early summer – which fortunately has allowed us to conduct much of
our desired spring flood-up and early-summer draw down. The fact that the city water was our only
source of water this spring did cause this management cycle to be drawn out longer than we normally
would have done (we had to “flood-up” and “draw-down” pools piecemeal this spring versus across the
area all at once), but we were still very thankful for the partnership we have with the City of Columbia in
still providing us water to use as a management tool.
We’ve also started our summer invasive species control that takes up much of our staff’s time
throughout the region. We’ve been spraying non-native thistles, Japanese hops, Johnsongrass, Lotus
and several other nuisance species that are ever present in the Missouri River bottomlands. Additionally,
our staff have been busy treating autumn olive, bush honeysuckle, sericea lespedeza, teasel, and few
other invasive species on other areas throughout the region. This activity occupies much of our time
through the summer months.
Over the next few months, you will probably see us continue to conduct these invasive species control
efforts at both Eagle Bluffs and other areas. Other management activities planned at Eagle Bluffs will be
late summer mowing and disking in preparation of fall migration and continued development of moist
soil plant communities. Some haying of the levees will also take place due to the drought emergency.
The tree piles created from the willow removal project are planned to be burned in August – before our
fall water management begins. We also hope to see the 2nd river pump installed and we are also trying
to complete a levee repair in that same area. There are many moving parts to this repair, but we are
trying to get those infrastructure items addressed as soon as we can. We also plan on starting our fall
flooding for migrating birds in mid-August.
Finally – we are proud to announce that we have filled one of our vacant positions at Eagle Bluffs. Joe
Zoellner joined us in July and I asked him to give us a little introduction to himself so that everyone could
get to know him and this is what he provided me:
Hello! My name is Joe Zoellner, I started as the Resource Management Crew Leader at Eagle
Bluffs CA on 7/01/23. I have nearly six years of experience working as a Wildlife Manager with
the Missouri Department of Conservation. I began my career as a part time working hourly at
Eagle Bluffs in the spring of 2015, and have also spent time working in positions in the St. Louis
and Northwest Regions within MDC. I have a wide variety of experience managing wetlands,
woodlands, and uplands/prairies and am looking forward to getting to know the folks that love
to come out and experience Eagle Bluffs.
If you all are out and about Eagle Bluffs this summer, feel free to stop by the office and visit with us.
We’d be happy to answer any questions you all may have or share more information you may be
interested in having. Stay cool this summer – and, if you know how bring rain!