August A. Busch Jr. Memorial Wetlands at Four Rivers Conservation Area

Driving Directions

The area is located about 15 miles north of Nevada and 5 miles south of Rich Hill in Bates and Vernon counties. To reach headquarters from I-49/71 Highway, take Route TT east 2 miles to 1600 Road, then south 2 miles.


Four Rivers provides both managed and open waterfowl hunting opportunity. There is one disabled-accessible blind available through the managed hunt program.

Designated an Important Bird Area by Audubon Missouri. All four wetland units provide excellent shorebird and waterfowl viewing opportunity at certain times of the year, and over 180 species have been seen on the area. There is also a heron rookery in Unit 1 (south of the Little Osage River) in the Horton Bottom Natural Area.

There is also a boardwalk in Unit 3 adjacent to the DU Presidents Marsh that provides opportunity to view emergent wetland habitat and wildlife. Field access roads provide opportunity for hiking and bird watching, but are restricted to foot traffic only.

Facilities and features include three boat ramps (two lake and one stream), four streams, Four Rivers Unit 1 Reservoir (142 acres), Four Rivers Unit 3 Lake (20 acres), and four fishable ponds.

About This Area

The 13,929 acre area is largely wetlands with several large tracts of bottomland forest. It has over 21 miles of stream frontage and a large natural area.

The initial purchase of nearly 4,500 acres for the area occurred in 1982. A large-scale construction project completed in 1996 restored over 2,000 acres of this area (Units 1 and 2) to productive, manageable wetlands. Developments include a pump station, a water storage reservoir, and a system of levees and water control structures that allow control of water levels in 14 separate marshes.

In 1998, an additional 7,036 acres (Unit 3 and 4) were added to the area through a cooperative partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ducks Unlimited, the North American Wetland Conservation Council, and the Busch family. In 1999, the area was renamed the August A. Busch, Jr. Memorial Wetlands at Four Rivers to honor the former Conservation Department Commissioner and a man who cherished wetlands and waterfowl. This new addition was developed into three pools in Unit 3 and six pools in Unit 4 to include 3,200 total acres of wetlands in 2000 and 2001.

The area is primarily managed for wetland species using a variety of moist-soil management techniques, along with some agricultural crops. The managed waterfowl hunting program, along with 'open hunting' units provides waterfowl hunting opportunity to several thousand hunters annually.

General Information

Kansas City



Owned by MDC

  • Non-toxic shot required for all hunting with a shotgun.
  • Use or possession of lead shot prohibited.
  • The information "hotline" (417) 395-4495 provides contact information for Conservation Agents and hunting information.

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Designated an Important Bird Area by Audubon Missouri. Over 180 species have been seen on the area. All four wetland units provide excellent shorebird and waterfowl viewing opportunity at certain times of the year. There is also a heron rookery in Unit 1 (south of the Little Osage River) in the Horton Bottom Natural Area. Waterfowl, Eagle, Pelican, and Shorebirds viewing on area roads (some roads closed during waterfowl season). Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List. Bates County. Vernon County.  
Camping - Individual Campsites  Camping is limited to the designated area located in the southwest portion of Unit 2. There is a privy at this location, but no other facilities. 
Fishing - Bass Good population.  
Fishing - Catfish Good population. River fishing on the Marmaton, Little Osage, and Osage. 
Fishing - Crappie Good population.  
Fishing - Other Good population.  
Fishing - Sunfish Fair population.  
Hiking  There is a boardwalk and viewing blind in Unit 3 that provides good birding opportunity in a small wetland. 
Hunting-Deer Good population. See regulations.  
Hunting-Dove Good population. Sunflower and wheat fields are managed for doves, but success varies due to field quality and weather. Non-toxic shot is required.  
Hunting-Quail Fair population. See area regulations.  
Hunting-Rabbit Fair population. See area regulations.  
Hunting-Squirrel Good population. See area regulations.  
Hunting-Turkey Good population. Annual Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet and annual Spring Turkey Hunting Information booklet.  
Hunting-Waterfowl – Morning Draw Good population. Daily drawing at HQ for managed hunt in Units 1 and 2 during the Middle Zone Duck Season. All other waterfowl hunters must self-register.  
Hunting-Waterfowl-Open Hunting Good population.

Daily drawing at HQ for managed hunt in Units 1 and 2 during the Middle Zone Duck Season.

All other waterfowl hunters must self-register.

Other  Three auto overlooks along road  

Go to Top of Page

Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Boat Ramp - Lake - Other Four Rivers Unit 1 Reservoir  Gravel boat ramp to 142 acre water supply reservoir. Closed to all uses as waterfowl refuge from October 15 through Jan. 31 and closed to hunting the remainder of the year. May not be accessible due to low water levels.  
Boat Ramp - Lake - Other Four Rivers Unit 3 Lake   
Boat Ramp - Stream - ConcreteaccessibleMarmaton River ramp  Provides access to Marmaton and Little Osage Rivers. Rivers are navigable only during times of normal or higher than normal flows due to log jams and riffles. Boat ramp is closed seasonally due to flooding, pumping activities, and from the beginning of Youth Waterfowl season through the end of the Middle Zone Duck season.  
Camping Area - Individual Campsites Unit 2 designated camp area  Mowed and graveled area, on-site privies, no fire rings, no tables, primitive only. 
Hunting Blind - WaterfowlaccessiblePool 9A (disabled user blind)  Disabled hunters should call the area HQ to reserve the blind in advance, (417) 395-2341.  
Parking Lotaccessible 25  Gravel parking lots. Five have concrete pads for disabled users. 
Privy/Restroomaccessible  Privies found in Unit 1, Unit 2, including Unit 2 Camping Area. 
Staffed OfficeaccessibleFour Rivers headquarters  Field office is open M-F, 8-5 and everyday during waterfowl season, except for Christmas day. A staff member is not always present at the office. 

Go to Top of Page

Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Designated Natural Area Horton Bottoms Natural Area 1339.00 acres The HBNA contains some of the best examples of remnant wet prairie, shrub swamp, and wet-mesic bottomland woodland and forest in Missouri. For more information, visit the Horton Bottoms Natural Area Website.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Pit 2 2.70 acres COAL STRIP PIT 
Fishing Lake or Pond Pit 3 0.80 acres COAL STRIP PIT  
Fishing Lake or Pond Four Rivers Unit 3 Lake 20.00 acres The Unit 3 lake renovation was completed in May 2010. The lake was restocked and fishing was prohibited until the population could sustain harvest.  The Unit 3 Lake was opened to fishing as of March 1, 2015.      
Fishing Lake or Pond Pit 1 3.60 acres This is a coal mined strip-pit.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Four Rivers Unit 1 Reservoir 142.00 acres Reservoir is used as water storage to flood wetland pools in the fall. Water is recharged back into the reservoir the following spring. The reservoir is closed to all uses from Oct. 15 - Jan. 31 annually to serve as waterfowl refuge.   
Fishless Pond  1.00 acres  
Stream - Intermittent Muddy Creek 2.00 miles  
Stream - Permanent Osage River 1.80 miles  
Stream - Permanent Marmaton 12.30 miles  
Stream - Permanent Little Osage River 4.10 miles  
Stream - Permanent Bates County Drainage Ditch 0.25 miles  

Go to Top of Page

Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Forest and Woodland 3998.00  
Crop Land 850.00  
Wetland 6500.00 Developed wetlands in 24 pools-5340 Acres 
Grassland (non-prairie) 1100.00 Planted WSG & CSG 
Lakes/Ponds 205.00  
Native Prairie 675.00  
Old Field 525.00  
Savanna 35.00  
Other 41.33 Parking lots, roads, infrastructure. 
Total Area Acres:13929.33 

Go to Top of Page

Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
Robbie Briscoe Memorial Boardwalk Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 0.20 

Go to Top of Page

Shooting Range General Information

This area has no shooting ranges.

Go to Top of Page