Land Use

Historical Development

The first inhabitants of the basin were ancient "mound building" people. Evidence including burial mounds, skeletal remains and artifacts of their occupation was found near the mouth of the Missouri and Osage rivers and along the Moreau River. At the time of westward expansion, the land was occupied by Osage indians. In the late 1700's, French hunters and trappers sought the resources of the Moreau and Osage rivers. During 1812-1816, they were followed by white settlers coming primarily from Kentucky and Tennessee. Large-scale immigration followed in the 1820's. Cole County organized in 1820. It was followed by Morgan (1833), Miller (1837), and Moniteau (1845) counties (Conard 1901).

Early settlers found prairie in the central and northern parts of Morgan County, the south and western parts of Moniteau County and northwest part of Miller County. The central and eastern parts of Moniteau County were woodlands (Conard 1901). Timber consisted of various oaks, black walnut, hickory, elm, maple and sycamore. Several fine springs were reported in the southeastern part of Moniteau County (Campbell's Gazetter of Missouri 1874). Around the turn of the twentieth century, most of Cole Cunty was untillable with only 70,000 A cultivated (30% of the land). Forty percent of Morgan and 85% of Moniteau counties were cultivated (Conard 1901).

The most profitable businesses in Morgan County were raising stock and mining. Moniteau County residents profited most in farming and livestock (Conard 1901). Major crops included corn, wheat, oats, flax, tobacco and potatoes. Hay was widely cultivated. In 1898, surplus livestock products shipped from Moniteau County included cattle (4,279); hogs (25,511); sheep (3,983); horses and mules (703); poultry (721,575 pounds); and game and fish (32,335 pounds) (Conard 1901). Deposits of coal, lead and barites were also found. Lead and coal were mined close to Burris Fork near High Point around 1855 and also near the Moniteau/Cole county line in 1857. Smelters were also open near California. Coal was mined 2. 5 miles southeast of Tipton and in the vicinity of California. Good potters' clay was found three miles west of California. (Campbell's Gazetter of Missouri 1874, Conard 1901).

Recent Land Use

The total human population of counties encompassing this basin was 112,151 in the 1990 U. S. population census. Of this population, an estimated 39,000 people reside in the basin based on township population estimates and estimation of the percentage of each township located in the watershed. The cities of Jefferson City, California, Tipton, Versailles, and Eldon, ring the border of the watershed but only portions of these towns have drainage into the Moreau watershed. A total of 2. 6% of the land coverage in the basin is urban.

Grassland and cropland comprise 72. 8% of the land use in the basin (MoRAP 1997). Grassland and cropland predominate in the western half of the basin whereas forest, grassland and woodland predominate in the eastern half of the Basin (Figure Lu01).

As in the past, raising livestock and farming remain important businesses in the basin. In Cole, Miller, Moniteau, and Morgan counties, livestock sales accounted for greater than 75% of total agricultural sales in 1992 (DuCharme and Miller 1996). In 1997, there were 3,287 livestock operations in these counties which produced 237,247 animal units (animal unit=1000 pounds live weight) (Table Lu01; Barney 2002, personal communication).

Hay, soy beans, corn and wheat are the primary crops grown in the basin. The Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service (2002) reported a total production of 315,000 tons of hay, 3,473,000 bu corn, 401,200 bu wheat, and 1,372,000 bu soybeans for the four counties encompassing the basin in 2000.

The old coal and lead mines near California, Tipton and High Point are now closed. Currently, there are three active limestone quarries in Cole county near Jefferson City and seven sand and gravel removal operations on streams (MDNR 2002b).

Soil Conservation Projects

There is one completed and two active soil conservation projects underway in the basin. A five-year Special Areas Land Treatment Project (SALT) was completed in FY 1996 in the Honey Creek watershed, Cole County. Of this 6,337 acre watershed, 2,206 acres received soil erosion control treatments. The two ongoing projects are an Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) project covering the entire Moreau watershed and an Agricultural Non-Point Source Special Area Land Treatment (AGNPS SALT) project encompassing the upper portion of the North Moreau Creek, and its tributaries Willow Fork Creek, Straight Fork Creek, Smith Branch, Kelly Branch, and Willow Branch. The EQIP project is ten years in length (FY 99-2009). Its focus is primarily water quality improvement through improved animal waste management. It provides cost-share for items like stackhouses, mangement intensive grazing systems, and woodland protection through livestock exclusion.

The AGNPS SALT project is funded for seven years. Its goals are similar to that of an EQIP project but it focuses on a smaller geographical area and includes streambank stabilization, filter strips, and soil erosion control measures for cropland as well as planned grazing systems and nutrient management. For more information on AGNPS SALT and EQIP projects in Morgan and Moniteau counties, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District .

Morgan Co. SWCD
100 S. Burke St.
Versailles, MO 65084-1004
Phone: (573) 378-4589 Ext 3
FAX: (573) 378-6163

Moniteau Co. SWCD
410 W. Buchanan St.
California, MO 65018-1223
Phone: (573) 796-2010 Ext 3
FAX: (573) 796-4520

Public Areas

There are no federal lands or state parks located in the watershed. However, there are seven areas either owned or managed by cooperative agreement with the Missouri Department of Conservation which are open to the public (Table Lu02; Figure Lu02). Moreau 50, Honey Creek, Stringtown Bridge, and Scrivner Road CA provide access to the Moreau River, North Moreau and South Moreau creeks (Figure Lu02). The Honey Creek and Moreau 50 accesses have concrete boat ramps. Recreational opportunities for lake fishing, bird watching, nature viewing or hiking can be found at Hough Park, Proctor Park, Scrivner Road CA and Hite Prairie CA. Prairie flowers can be viewed at Hite Prairie CA located on the watershed divide near the southwest edge of Versailles in Morgan County. For more information or maps for these areas visit the MDC online atlas (2002) or consult Missouri's Conservation Atlas, A Guide to Exploring Your Conservation Lands (1995) published by the MDC, Jefferson City, MO.

Floating by small johnboat or canoe on the Moreau River or North Moreau and South Moreau creeks is enjoyed from the vicinity of Russellville downstream to the confluence of the Moreau and Missouri rivers. Rockhouse Bridge, 5. 5 miles south of McGirk off Hwy K and Decatur Bridge on Hwy AA south of Russellville are the uppermost put-in points (Figure Lu02). Floating is best during the springtime when water levels are high. Later in the year, portage over shallow riffles becomes necessary.

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Jurisdiction

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Jurisdiction Corps regulates the construction of structures, and the excavation and filling of wetlands, rivers, streams and lakes. Some examples of regulated activities include but are not limited to placement of riprap, gravel excavation, bridge, dam and levee construction, land-filling, and creation of borrow pits in wetlands. For this basin, regulatory jurisdiction for alterations are with the Missouri State Regulatory Office (Cole and Moniteau counties) and Truman Satellite Office (Morgan and Miller counties) of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Missouri State Regulatory Office
221 Bolivar Street, #103
Jefferson City, MO 65101
Tel: (573) 634-4788
FAX: (573) 634-4895

Truman Satellite Office
Route 2, Box 29-C
Warsaw, MO 65355
Tel: 660-438-6697
FAX: 660-438-6909

Figure Lu01: Land use in the Moreau River watershed, in Missouri

Map of land use in the Moreau River watershed, in Missouri

Table Lu01: Livestock population estimated from U.S. Census of Agriculture, 1997

Livestock population estimated from U.S. Census of Agriculture, 1997

Table Lu02: State managed public areas in the Moreau River basin

State managed public areas in the Moreau River basin

Figure Lu02: Public areas within the Moreau River watershed

Map of public areas within the Moreau River watershed