Important Bird Areas

Lower Missouri River channel

South Dakota

This IBA includes the Missouri River channel from Fort Randall Dam to Ponca State Park, Nebraska. The upper 39 miles and lower 59 miles (above and below Lewis and Clark Lake) constitutes the Missouri National Recreational River. This IBA nomination focuses on the sandbar and marshland portion of the Missouri River ecosystem where the federally endangered Piping Plover and Interior Least Tern nest.

Ornithological Summary

Sandbars in this portion of the Missouri River ecosystem provide very important nest sites for the globally endangered Piping Plover and the continentally endangered Least Tern. Marshes host breeding secretive marshbirds and waterfowl. Large colonies of Bank and other swallow species, and Barn Owls nest in the eroded cliffs.

Conservation Issues

Main threats are inundation of nests on sand bars, predation by Great Blue Herons, gulls, raptors, and mink, and disturbance by humans. When water levels are too low, sandbar islands become connected to the shoreline, allowing other mammal predators such as racoon, coyote, dogs, and cats to access nesting colonies. If scouring floods are not allowed to happen, sandbars become vegetated, making them unsuitable for nesting terns and plovers.

Ownership

Site is under federal government control. The upper 39 miles and lower 59 miles (above and below Lewis and Clark Lake) constitutes the Missouri National Recreational River.

Habitat

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Tern
and Plover nesting habitat is the non-vegetated sand bars within and alongside
the stream flow of the Missouri River. The IBA includes the river channel
itself and some areas of cattail marshes.

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Land Use

Much of the river is preserved for wildlife and outdoor recreation. Major recreation activities are fishing, boating, canoeing and kayaking. Tern and Plover colonies have been studied for many years. and are surveyed annually.  Gavin’s Point dam creates Lewis and Clark Lake which stores water for use by downstream interests.