Thanks to a generous donation, more than 160 acres along the Missouri River in Boone County will become a place for the public to connect to the state’s unique landscapes as well as a site for research and conservation, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced today.

The property, which is about 20 minutes west of Columbia at the end of Sarr Street in Huntsdale, sits on a scenic stretch between the river and the Katy Trail. It will be owned by TNC and operated in partnership with Missouri River Relief. The property was donated by Larry and Brenda Potterfield and includes a building formerly operated as the Station House restaurant.

Plans include using the building as a base of operations for Missouri River Relief to engage the community with the Missouri River and help care for it.  A boat ramp that had been accessible through memberships will be open to the public.

TNC will conduct high-quality restoration of natural habitats across the property, likely to include stabilizing the riverbank with natural materials and plantings, rejuvenating onsite wetlands and planting native vegetation.

“This is a one-of-a-kind site with limitless potential to conserve crucial habitats while providing access for the community to enjoy and learn about Missouri’s unique biodiversity,” The Nature Conservancy’s Missouri State Director Adam McLane said. “We’re incredibly grateful to Larry and Brenda Potterfield and eager to work with our partners at Missouri River Relief to ensure this is a special place for generations of Missourians to come.”

A boat ramp that had been accessible through memberships will be open to the public. (TNC)

“This is a beautiful piece of Missouri, and it was important to our family that it remains a place where people can spend time in the outdoors,” said Larry Potterfield. “We’re excited about the plans The Nature Conservancy and Missouri River Relief have to make this an asset for the community, advancing education, research and recreation along the Missouri River.”

“It’s been a longtime dream of Missouri River Relief to have a space on the river where we could bring people to experience and learn about the river,” Missouri River Relief Director Steve Schnarr said. “We are so grateful to the Potterfields and for this unique partnership with TNC and others to begin making that dream reality. Our mission is to connect people to the Missouri River, and this is one of our favorite places on the whole river to show people. We hope people statewide start to see this special place as their special place.”

The site will become a cornerstone of TNC’s development of a network of Centers for Conservation Innovation (CCI) across Missouri. The centers provide opportunities for on-the-ground research to help test, develop and demonstrate best practices for land management. TNC’s first CCI, Little Creek Farm near the Iowa border in Harrison County, is now a demonstration farm geared toward testing out new methods for sustainable grazing that can help ranchers and the land. Similarly, this new site will provide unique research opportunities, restored habitat and additional public access to the amazing Missouri River.

Taking advantage of the proximity of the Katy Trail, TNC will explore low-impact biking and hiking loops, viewing platforms at scenic points and the historical Lewis and Clark marker, and additional investments that can help the surrounding community connect with the river. The site is expected to be a destination for school field trips with programs for teaching students about our river habitats.

TNC and partners plan to engage stakeholders in coming months to develop a master plan for restoration and community access.  Until then, the public access will be limited to the boat ramp and associated parking lot.