The vision of long term preservation of the Confluence region sets out a concept of a joint venture partnership. This loose partnership of public agencies and private organizations will develop and initiate the goal of conserving, restoring, and maintaining approximately 30,000 acres of habitat and flood plain at the confluence of North America’s two largest rivers through conservation easements, agricultural easements and private and public land acquisitions. This partnership concept is a creative approach to preserve flood plain land for its agricultural heritage, wildlife habitat, and water storage capacity.
Land preservation will be conducted on a landscape level through a series of land and conservation easement acquisitions/donations on a willing seller/donor basis.
Here is how conservation of the Confluence Flood Plain makes good ecological and economic sense:
Saving Agricultural Heritage
For 150 years local landowners have farmed the flood plain alternatively betting against drought and flooding. Despite the changing conditions, the confluence flood plain provides some of the most productive farmland in the country.
The farmers who wish to continue farming operations and keep their farms in production for future generations can take advantage of various agricultural easement programs which may provide additional income.
Saving Wildlife Habitat
The Confluence Flood Plain is habitat for many fish and bird species including threatened and endangered species such as the American Bald Eagle and Pallid Sturgeon. Sixty percent of North America’s waterfowl passes over the Confluence semiannually. Untold millions of migratory birds follow the same route. The Confluence is also habitat for fisheries that are rich and diverse, ranging from Pallid Sturgeon and gar to the largemouth bass, catfish and crappies. In addition, the Confluence is a home for mussels, mammals, flora and fauna.
Protection and restoration of the Confluence Flood Plain are critical for regional river restoration activities. Also, conservation of the Confluence Flood Plain enhances community recreation opportunities; it provides ideal place for nature tours, wetland education programs; and it increases public hunting opportunities.
Saving Water Storage Capacity
The Midwest Flood of 1993 was a hydro meteorological event unprecedented in recent times. It was caused by excessive rainfall that occurred throughout a significant section of the upper Mississippi River Basin. The Confluence Flood Plain held 260 billion gallons of water in July of 1993. In St. Louis, the city’s flood wall marked at 52 feet above flood stage, was within 18 inches of being topped at the peak of flooding. The Mississippi River narrows to 1,200 feet beneath the St. Louis Arch. During periods of excessive flooding, this hourglass of the Mississippi River depends greatly on the storage capacity of natural flood plains, such as the Confluence Flood Plain in St. Charles County. Without the Confluence Flood Plain the fate of the City of St. Louis during the ’93 flood event would certainly have been grim.
The massive Confluence Flood Plain in St. Charles and Lincoln Counties contains 100,000 acres of flood plain at the convergence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. This flood plain currently is without a 100-year levee. This could change within the next several years if development continues on the Confluence Flood Plain. The time is now to expedite efforts to preserve the flood plain.