The National Audubon Society and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Louis District, will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the new Audubon Center at Riverlands on Friday, October 14. The ceremony will be held at the Audubon center, located in the Corps' Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
Located on the banks of the Mississippi River near the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi, the Audubon Center at Riverlands is surrounded by 3,700 acres of prairie marsh and forest, 100 miles of bicycle trails, and thousands of acres of other publicly managed lands and habitat. The center is a result of a partnership between the Corps and Audubon.
"The Audubon Center's perfect location near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers will provide tremendous opportunities for education, conservation, and recreation for the public," Dr. Patricia Hagen, executive director of the Audubon Center at Riverlands said. "From here, visitors can learn about the natural environment and wildlife around them, then go out and reconnect in the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary."
The center lies at the heart of one of North America’s great migratory flyways, the Mississippi Flyway. It is embedded within the Great Rivers Confluence Important Bird Area (IBA), an important wetland complex for migrating, nesting, and wintering waterbirds. Bald Eagles and King Rails have bred within the Confluence IBA, and Interior Least Terns have nested on an artificial island at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Least Bitterns and Willow Flycatchers also nest in the Confluence IBA, and thousands of waterfowl and shorebirds pass through the IBA during migration each year, along with large numbers of Neotropical migratory songbirds, which are found primarily in bottomland forest present along the rivers.
“Audubon is committed to protecting birds and restoring habitat throughout the Mississippi Flyway,” said Tony Robyn, Audubon’s vice president for the Upper Mississippi Flyway. “The Audubon Center at Riverlands will play a key role in our flyway conservation efforts and will serve the Greater St. Louis area, reconnecting its citizens with nature and with America’s greatest river system from its headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.”
Speakers at the center’s grand opening event will include Col. Christopher Hall, St. Louis District Commander for the Corps; Dr. Patricia Hagen, Executive Director of the Audubon Center at Riverlands; Andy Schimpf, Project Manager of the Corps’ Rivers Project Office; Julie Schnuck, Advisory Board Chairperson of the Audubon Center at Riverlands; and Tony Robyn, Vice President, Upper Mississippi Flyway, National Audubon Society.