Before 1944, when a series of federally authorized projects spurred its restructuring, the Missouri River represented one of North America’s most diverse and dynamic ecosystems. Pulses of rainwater and snowmelt, carrying tons of sediment, created an ever-changing landscape of meandering channels, chutes, sloughs, islands, sandbars, and backwater wetlands and woodlands.
Today, six main-stem dams on the upper reaches of the Missouri have transformed one-third of the river into lake environments, and all of the 735 miles of river between Sioux City, Iowa, and St. Louis, Missouri, have been stabilized and channelized.
The Conservancy is working to protect what remains and to restore some of what has been lost.
The Missouri River has been greatly altered in the last 200 years - today, most of the river would not be recognized by Lewis and Clark. The Nature Conservancy is building partnerships among groups who are united in the goal to protect and restore portions of the landscape. Our goal is to catalyze a community-based conservation presence on the Missouri River, focusing on the highly-altered reach from Yankton, South Dakota to St. Louis, Missouri, where the river joins the Mississippi.
The Conservancy is working with conservation partners to restore riverine habitats lost within this system.
Lower Missouri River Comprehensive Action Planning (CAP) Process
Find out more about the Conservancy's multi-partner plan to restore the health of the Lower Missouri River in Nebraska. (PDF, 2.5 MB)
Western prairie fringed orchid