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Missouri

The Meramec River Project


Cattle Fencing

Fencing keeps cattle from the riparian buffer, which prevents sedimentation from flowing into the river.  It also makes cattle handling more efficient for ranchers.

Drilling a Well

Drilling wells provides cattle with an alternative water source, which is more reliable year-round.  Wells also keep cattle away from the river, preventing damage to the riparian buffer.

Planting trees helps to keep soil in place, restoring the riparian buffer and preventing sediment from flooding the nearby river.

The Meramec River is beloved by Missourians as a favorite destination for floating, boating, fishing, and swimming, but it’s more than just a fun place to visit.  The Meramec is an irreplaceable freshwater resource and a key tributary to the Mississippi River.  It supports 31 species of global significance, including several species found nowhere else on Earth.  The river provides economic and recreational resources for local communities, and supplies drinking water to approximately 340,000 households. 

Unfortunately, decades of abuse threaten the health of the river.  In the past, river clean-ups and other conservation efforts have taken place along the river, but sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  With start-up funding from Crystal Light, the Conservancy is collaborating with agencies, partners, and private landowners to implement a science-based conservation strategy that will combine efforts and maximize results.

Threatened by Overuse

Over time, the Meramec has been threatened by overuse from activities such as inappropriate livestock usage, mining, stream bank erosion, and urban and suburban development.  These activities cause erosion and sediment build up, habitat disturbance, nutrient loading, and contamination.  As a result, the water quality of the Meramec has diminished, and habitats have been degraded and destroyed.

The negative impacts of overuse are not confined to the river’s natural communities.  Local human communities and economies are affected as well.  Lower numbers of fish and crayfish harm the fishing industry, flooding increases due to altered natural water cycles, water purification costs increase, and recreational opportunities diminish.

Our Strategy

The Meramec River Project aims to unify, clarify, and intensify restoration efforts to improve the overall health of the river.  New, on-the-ground conservation projects will help restore habitats, stream banks, and floodplains, and will manage the river’s nutrient and sediment levels.  The results of this work will have far-reaching impact as the Meramec empties into the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. 

Developing a Conservation Action Plan
The Conservancy is partnering with over 25 agencies and organizations to improve cooperation and coordination in Meramec watershed conservation.  Together, we have developed a comprehensive Conservation Action Plan that provides a blueprint including goals, strategies, measures of success, and opportunities for collaboration watershed wide.

Outreach
The Conservancy and its partners are reaching out to community members to offer information about watershed conservation, share best practices, and demonstrate riparian buffer restoration.  Workshops will be held for private landowners interested reducing their impact on the watershed, and volunteer projects, such as river clean up, tree planting, and fish and mussel counts, will be completed.

The Conservancy and its partners are assisting ranchers with the implementation of sustainable ranching practices.  Several strategies are used to keep cattle out of the river, such as constructing cattle crossings, digging wells to provide alternate water sources, and erecting fencing to keep cattle away from the riparian buffer.

Working Together
The Meramec River Project is maximizing the impact of restoration work throughout the Meramec watershed through sound scientific planning and collaboration.  This innovative undertaking will lay the groundwork for future conservation endeavors in the years to come, and will allow future generations to enjoy the beauty of one of Missouri’s most popular rivers.

How You Can Help

If you are interested in getting involved with conservation activities on the Meramec River, please contact the Missouri office at (314) 968-1105 or at missouri@tnc.org. 

The Nature Conservancy relies on the generosity of contributors like you to continue its work on the Meramec River.  By becoming a member of The Nature Conservancy or by making a donation to the Missouri Program, you will be part of keeping the river alive for generations to come.

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