Organization calls for comments about Eagle Bluffs

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COLUMBIA — The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is seeking the input from people who use the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area through August 31. Amy Buechler, the public involvement coordinator for the MDC, said the online forum is important for the organization to figure out what patrons desire.

“This is our chance to pause and include the pulse of the public in the planning process,” Buelcher said. “We want to know what they like to do and places to improve.”

A symphony of chattering birds and humming insects filled the evening air of the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. The scene is punctuated with the occasion crunch of a runner’s gait or the quick whir of a bicycle along the path.

The setting draws out Columbia resident Melissa Roach two to three times a week to run along the trail. She said the environment is ideal for exercise or to pursue her hobby of bird watching.

“You can sneak up on the birds a little bit better,” Roach said. “Here, it’s basically just you out, walking around. So, the birds don’t notice as much, in a way. It’s just more peaceful for me.”

The last time the community could comment on the plan was during May 2015. She said the response so far has been “light.” This commenting opportunity is one of the “concerted efforts” Buelcher said the organization does as it is constructing its 10-year plan.

Buelcher said some suggestions include the addition of an accessible hunting blind that meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and additional “waterfront management.” This would include manipulating the water levels to attract birds that prefer environments with low levels of H2O.

The Katy Trail cuts through the Eagle Bluffs, which Buechler said helps increase the use of the conservation area. According to the draft of the management plan, the Bluffs were acquired in 1989 and expands for about 4,500 acres. The area is known for the stretching view at the top of an overlook.

Cub Taylor had a positive review of the area after a bike ride with his wife, Jeannie.

“[They] let the big trees grow up so it’s shady in places, cut some of the growth out so you get the depth and the views, and the bluffs are gorgeous,” he said. “It’s a wonderful ride down there. It’s interesting and pleasant.”

Another bike rider, Cassie Yacovazzi, said if the number of people that visit the Bluffs increase, some changes may need to happen.

“I think if it becomes too popular, it could use more bike racks, but every time I’ve come out there haven’t been too many people, or any people for that matter,” Yacovazzi said. “I love the accessibility, and the stairwell and the view from the bluff. It’s pretty spectacular.”

Buechler said those interested in adding their opinion should visit the MDC’s website.