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Weather Forces Extended Closure at Ranacker Conservation Area
Missouri Ag Connection - 03/14/2019

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has temporarily closed access to the north part of Ranacker Conservation Area, including access to the shooting range, to allow for construction of a new bridge. Inclement weather this winter has caused delays to the bridge project. The shooting range and access to the conservation area from Missouri Highway RA will remain closed until at least mid-to late April, barring any further weather delays.

Construction crews are working to replace a low-water crossing with a new bridge that will carry the north access road over Peno Creek. The road closure cuts off access to the area's shooting range. Area users may continue to access the property on its south and southeast sides via county roads 48 and 50. These access points offer parking, camping, and an ADA-accessible privy. However, the shooting range will remain inaccessible until the bridge project is complete.

"This project will improve access for area users," said MDC Wildlife Management Biologist and Ranacker Conservation Area Manager Mike Flaspohler. "During high flows on Peno Creek, access to the range and the north part of the conservation area is cut off. The new bridge will provide more dependable access to the area, especially during heavy rains when the creek rises rapidly."

Additionally, replacing the low-water crossing with a bridge structure will allow for better passage of sediment and aquatic organisms within Peno Creek.

"Home to 40 fish species, Peno Creek is one of the highest quality streams in northeast Missouri," said MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Chris Williamson. "By removing artificial barriers [such as the existing low-water crossing], fish are able to complete their natural upstream and downstream movements, ensuring sustainability of their populations. Natural movement of sediment ensures quality in-stream habitats and stream function are maintained."

Ranacker Conservation Area consists of more than 1,800 acres of timber, grasslands, agricultural lands, and old fields characterized by narrow valleys with numerous rock overhangs. Peno Creek traverses the northern portion of the area, providing more than a mile of stream frontage. The area marks a point where river hills break away from prairie and is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, turkey, and bobwhite quail. Management of the area focuses on providing wildlife habitat by maintaining timber edges and old fields, prescribed timber harvest, and rotating agricultural crops.

The area also offers an unstaffed rifle and pistol shooting range which will reopen upon the completion of bridge construction.

Statewide, MDC conservation areas cover almost one million public acres for the purpose of restoring and conserving forest, fish, and wildlife resources, and for providing opportunities for all citizens to use, enjoy, and learn about these resources. Most Missourians are within a 30-minute drive of an MDC conservation area.

MDC thanks area users for their patience during the installation of this important infrastructure improvement.

For more information about area access, contact Flaspohler at Mike.Flaspohler@mdc.mo.gov or (573) 248-2530.

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