Historically, the Iatan / Weston River Corridor IBA was bottomland tallgrass prairie, marshland, and forest of the Missouri River floodplain, grading into hilly upland drainages with oak and mixed hardwood woodlands and forest (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). Today, cropland and urban development dominate the bottomland, with some managed marshland areas and bottomland forest. Second-growth forest, cool-season pasture, and cropland currently occur in the upland areas.
Four percent of the IBA is publicly-owned conservation land. Three Conservation Areas (CA) managed by MDC occur in the IBA: Bluffwoods CA (2,245 acres, 909 ha), Kneib Memorial CA (35 acres, 14 ha), Little Bean Marsh CA (437 acres, 177 ha). Two State Parks (SP) (Missouri Department of Natural Resources [MDNR]) are in the IBA: Lewis and Clark SP (189 acres, 77 ha) and Weston Bend SP (1,133 acres, 459 ha).
Current and future wetlands will provide important habitat for migrant and breeding waterbirds. State endangered American Bittern and King Rail have been observed on the IBA during the breeding season, along with Sora, Least Bittern, Marsh Wren, and other marsh-nesting species. The extremely rare Black Rail was also reported at Little Bean Marsh in 2005. Bald Eagles may be found there year-round. The bluff-top forests above the Missouri River Floodplain are renowned among birders for excellent ?fallouts? of migrant songbirds during spring migration.
The Iatan / Weston Missouri River Corridor Conservation Opportiunity Area outlined by MDC (2005) encompasses the Iatan / Weston River Corridor IBA. Conservation challenges outlined by MDC for this region include habitat restoration, hydrological issues with wetlands formerly associated with the channelized Missouri River, and urbanization.
The Iatan / Weston River Corridor IBA is a focal IBA for initial project implementation by Audubon Missouri (AM) to facilitate conservation of habitats on private lands within the corridor on both the Missouri and Kansas sides of the Missouri River. AM will also encourage management of public lands within the IBA to focus on it?s conservation targets (Waterbirds: American Bittern, Least Bittern, King Rail, Virginia Rail, Common Moorhen, and Marsh Wren; Bottomland Forest Birds: Red-headed Woodpecker, Prothonotary Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, and Wood Thrush). AM will also seek to further define educational opportunities within the project area. In addition to private landowners, partners for these efforts will include the Burroughs and Midland Empire Audubon Societies, MDC, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Mid-America Regional Council, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.