The Mingo Basin occupies the alluvial plain between the Castor and St. Francis rivers, being bordered more broadly by the Ozark Escarpment to the west and the Mississippi Alluvial Basin of the Missouri Bootheel to the east (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). The relatively flat terrain was historically occupied by forested bottomlands and swamps (cypress, oak, tupelo, and willow) and emergent marshes, much of which remains in the IBA, protected in federal and state lands.
Most (99%) of the area designated as the Mingo Basin is public land, of which 21,676 acres (8, 776 ha) is contained by the Mingo NAtional Wildlife Refuge (NWR) (US Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS]) and 6,145 acres (2,488 ha) by Duck Creek Conservation Area (CA) (Missouri Department of Conservation [MDC]).
The Mingo Basin is a largely protected remnant of bottomland forest, swamps and marsh that provides tremendous wetland habitat for breeding and migratory wetland birds. At least three separate, productive Bald Eagle nest sites have been monitored across both public landholdings in past years. Common Moorhen, Least Bittern, and other marsh species have also been detected on these lands, with evidence of nesting. Purple Gallinule have been observed in the IBA (Robbins and Easterla 1992, Palmer and Palmer 2001), with possible, yet unconfirmed breeding. Large numbers of bottomland forest nesting species occur in the IBA, including Acadian Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler, Hooded Warbler, and Barred Owl.
The vast majority of the area is already protected in existing public conservation lands. The IBA?s natural hydrology has been altered, but swamp habitat restoration on surrounding private lands may improve hydrological conditions on existing conservation lands (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). Such activities are suggested by MDC (2005) for the Mingo Basin Conservation Opportunity Area that encompasses the IBA, and may be achieved through conservation partnerships identified therein.