Ted Shanks Conservation
Area is located in northern Pike County at the confluence of the Salt and
Mississippi Rivers. The area was once a hunting and battleground for Sac
and Fox Indians from the north and the Osages from the south. European
colonization of the area began when the Spanish issued Francois Saucier a
land grant in 1799. Saucier was the son of the designer of Fort de
Chartres and was once the owner of the building that became the Cahokia
Courthouse. The land in turn became property of Saucierís son-in-law's
brother, Auguste Chouteau, one of the founders of St. Louis, and then to
Neree Valle of one of the prominent families of Ste. Genevieve. Zebulon
Pike charted the mouth of the Salt River in 1805 while conducting a
reconnaissance of the upper Mississippi River. The area was acquired in
the early 1970s using Pittman-Robertson funds, the federal excise tax on
sporting arms and ammunition.
Conservation Area consists of 6,705 acres and contains a variety of
habitats including bottomland hardwood timber, marshes, emergent wetlands,
agricultural row crops, oxbow lakes and sloughs, old fields, and upland
woods. Ted Shanks Conservation Area borders nearly 9 miles of the
Mississippi River, 5 miles of the Salt River, and has over 2 miles of
river bluffs. Two natural areas, Oval Lake and Bur-Reed Slough, are
located on the property. The area consists of 3,827 acres of Missouri
Department of Conservation lands and 2,878 acres of lands managed under a
cooperative agreement between the MDC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The area allows a
variety of outdoor activities. Two boat ramps allow access to the 70-acre
Horseshoe Lake and the lower wetlands for anglers and canoeists and there
are more than 500 acres of fishable water including the Salt and
Mississippi Rivers. Over 35 miles of levees and a 1/3-mile
Disabled-Accessible Trail provide excellent hiking opportunities. The area
has over a dozen primitive campsites. Picnic tables are available in the
summer months at the adjacent Dupont Reservation conservation Area.
Hunting for deer, dove, quail, rabbit, squirrel, wild turkey, and
waterfowl is allowed and blinds for waterfowl are located on the site.
headquarters building contains exhibits, displays, and slide programs on
outdoor related topics and includes an observation room that overlooks a
marsh. A self-guided auto tour that takes a circuitous route of over 11
miles around the area introduces visitors to the wetlands, management
techniques, and wildlife of the Ted Shanks Conservation Area.
A brochure of the auto tour can be picked up at the headquarters
building. Group tours are available on request.
Shanks Conservation Area is listed on the National Audubon Society's
Great River Birding Trail. Wetland management at Ted Shanks C.A.
includes manipulation of water levels in the areaís many pools to
provide stopover habitat and food for migratory birds. Ted Shanks
C.A. hosts large concentrations of waterfowl during both spring and
fall migrations occurring in late November and December and again in
February and March. The largest documented concentration of
waterfowl at Ted Shanks C.A. occurred in 1978 when an estimated
305,000 ducks were counted. Large numbers of shorebirds, large
waders, and a large number of songbirds frequent the area. Several
rare wetland birds migrate through or nest here, including Trumpeter
Swans, Least and American Bitterns, King Rails, and Common Moorhens.
There is good automotive viewing from an internal road system that
loops around wetland cells and along forest edges.
The Missouri Audubon Society
checklist for birds that can be seen in this area.
Bald eagles are also present on the area during their annual spring
and fall migrations. In 1997, a pair began nesting at Ted Shanks
C.A. and have produced successful nests almost every year since.
Nesting activity starts in mid to late February and the young
usually leave the nest in the middle of June.
Some of the best times to
see eagles at Ted Shanks C.A. are during peak migration events in
late fall and winter when thousands of other waterfowl also move
into and through the area. The eagles key in on large concentrations
as a primary food source. Eagles at Ted Shanks C.A. frequently top
100 during January and February.
Visiting Ted Shanks Conservation Area
4 am - 10 pm
There is no charge to visit Ted
Shanks Conservation Area.
Directions: To get to Ted Shanks Conservation Area take MO-79 to
approximately 16 miles north of Louisiana or approximately 18 miles south
of Hannibal to Route TT. Take is Route TT east through Ashburn to the area.
N 39 32.547
W 90 09.970
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