The Missouri River is one of the nation's most important river systems. Historically, the "Big Muddy" as the river is known, supported an abundance of fish and wildlife and a diversity of habitats. The river also played a significant role in the Nation's history, launching Lewis and Clark on their famous journey. Over centuries, changes came to the Missouri River as efforts were made to facilitate navigation and ease flooding. But at the same time, hundreds of thousands of acres of fish and wildlife habitat along the River were lost. Established in 1994 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is meant to restore some of the Missouri River's natural resources. The refuge may someday appear as "beads on a string" along the river from St. Louis to Kansas City - 25 to 30 tracts encompassing about 60,000 acres of land acquired from willing sellers. Big Muddy's purpose is to preserve and restore natural river floodplain, manage fish and wildlife habitats, and provide for compatible public use. Activities to meet these goals are carried out with the involvement of those who live, work, and recreate along the Missouri River.
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