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Mississippi River islands added to Great River National Wildlife Refuge

A sunset at the Great Rivers National Wildlife Refuge in Annada, Mo.
Carmen Cortelyou | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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A sunset at the Great Rivers National Wildlife Refuge in Annada, Missouri

The Great River National Wildlife Refuge in Annada, Missouri,  is acquiring two islands on the Mississippi River to protect wildlife and provide more areas for outdoor recreation. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given $677,500 to the refuge in northeast Missouri, a portion of $21.9 million the U.S. Department of the Interior dedicated to conserving public lands in 16 states. A family near the river used to farm on the 702-acre property, called Slim and Haps Islands, but stopped as flooding increased along the Mississippi River.

Jason Wilson, who manages the refuge, said he looks forward to restoring the islands' wetlands. 

"Anywhere up and down the river and in a lot of places in the country, habitats have been degraded," Wilson said. "Anytime we have an opportunity to acquire a piece of property and restore it prior to human disturbance that's a big plus." 

Many species live on the islands, including wood ducks and turkey. The refuge also aims to make the area available for hunting and fishing by fiscal year 2019, Wilson said.

Currently, the property is only accessible by boat. 

"Sometimes, we can be limited on hunting and fishing and opportunities to visit some of these areas that have been restored and to get kind of a feel for what these areas were historically," Wilson said. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expects to complete its purchase of the islands by the end of the year.

Follow Eli on Twitter: @StoriesByEli 

Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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