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The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is located in Cape Girardeau's North County Park. It showcases the cultural history and natural resources of southeast Missouri.
Indoors, the nature center features hands-on exhibits for all ages, including the Corbin Collection of American Indian artifacts, freshwater aquariums, wildlife viewing areas, classrooms and an auditorium.
Outdoors, explore the White Oak Trace, which has two miles of trails winding through stands of poplar and oak trees, sinkholes and a small, man-made swamp. The nature center grounds include gardens featuring native wildflowers. At the Kid's Fishing Pond, children younger than 16 can try their hand at fishing for a variety of species. Poles and worms are available for use at no charge.
Columbia Bottom is a mosaic of natural areas including wetlands, forests, prairies and croplands. The area encompasses the 110-acre Duck Island on the Mississippi River, as well as more than six miles of river frontage.
A road runs through the area, with eight exploration stations along the way, where visitors can view surrounding habitats in a self-guided learning experience. The confluence of Missouri River and Mississippi River – the fourth largest river system in the world – can be observed from the site’s Confluence Viewing Platform, located at the end of the road.
The visitor center has a number of educational displays designed to help guests become acquainted with the site. Naturalist-led educational programs are frequently offered for the general public, plus special programs for school and scout groups. Please call ahead, as most programs require advanced registration. The area offers hiking, biking and river access.
Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is in North St. Louis County: take the Riverview Drive exit from I-270; travel north on Riverview about 2.8 miles and follow the signs.
Columbia Bottom Conservation Area is closed from one-half-hour after sunset until one-half-hour before sunrise, except for authorized hunting, fishing and boat ramp use.
Located along the Mississippi River, at the community of Ashburn, the 6,705-acre Ted Shanks Conservation Area offers unique opportunities for wildlife viewing and waterfowl hunting. The area contains a mix of bottomland hardwood timber, open marsh, mixed shrub/scrub/emergent wetlands, row crops, oxbow lakes and sloughs, old fields and upland woods. About 4,000 acres of the area are seasonally flooded to provide feeding, roosting and shelter habitat for migratory birds. Facilities/features include: a lake boat ramp, stream boat ramp, waterfowl blinds, and two natural areas. There are more than 500 acres of fishable water, inluding Horseshoe Lake, Salt River and the Mississippi River.
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