The majority of the Lower Grand River Wetlands IBA south of Linn County occupies the Missouri-Grand River Alluvial Plain, which was historically characterized by wet prairie, with some forest and marsh in the bottomland (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). The northern end of the IBA had some upland prairie, savanna, and woodland. Much prairie has been lost to cropland, but many acres persist as wetlands and bottomland forest on the conservation lands mentioned below.
Fifty-one percent of the Golden Triangle IBA is publicly-owned conservation land. Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) (10,795 acres, 4,370 ha) is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Under management of the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) are Fountain Grove Conservation Area (CA) (7,405 acres, 2,998 ha) and Yellow Creek CA (593 acres, 240 ha). Pershing State Park (SP) (3,566 acres, 1,444 ha) is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).
The Lower Grand River Wetlands IBA is certainly golden in its value to wetland birds, both as a migration stopover site and breeding site. The IBA also provides grassland bird habitat and riparian woodlands for arboreal nesting species (including Bald Eagle, rookeries of Great Blue Herons, Red-headed Woodpecker, Acadian Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler, and Wood Thrush). American Bitterns are common during migration and Least Bitterns have been observed to nest in the IBA. Pied-billed Grebes and Red-shouldered Hawks also nest on the Swan Lake NWR (Palmer and Palmer 2001). Other wetland birds observed in the IBA include Common Moorhen, Interior Least Tern (probably dispersing individuals), Marsh Wren, and Sora. During migration and winter, this IBA regularly supports large concentrations of waterfowl, and good numbers and diversity of shorebird species.
Restoration of bottomland forest and wet prairie communities would be aided from controlling soil erosion and resulting silt deposition (MDC 2005), and can be facilitated through multiple conservation programs available through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Bill. MDC (2005) has designated an area encompassing the Lower Grand River Wetlands IBA as the Lower Grand River Conservation Opportunity Area, where conservation partners along with private landowners can advance needed changes in soil and grassland conservation practices.