Missouri River Bottoms area rich in flora and fauna
ATCHISON -- Benedictine Bottoms is a 2,112-acre wildlife area located along the Missouri River near Atchison. Three habitat types existed in the area before development — timber, native grass, and wetlands — and the area is managed for all three to this day. During construction in 1993-94, more than 175,000 trees and 550 acres of native grass were planted, and 450 acres of wetlands were developed. This diverse habitat combination and the area's location affords great hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities for Kansas City, Topeka, Lawrence, and St. Joseph, Missouri.

The area is owned by the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers (COE) and managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP). All of the area's management and operating costs are paid by COE, but KDWP public lands manager Kirk Thompson has directed this important wildlife area since it was established.

Diverse habitat makes Benedictine Bottoms home to many wildlife species. Its proximity to the big river makes it a natural gathering place for waterfowl. Ducks use the area’s wetlands, and large flocks of snow geese are often seen overhead during winter. Eagles are also frequent winter visitors, preying on waterfowl. Thick cover, abundant native food, and planted food plots make ideal habitat for white-tailed deer, as well as small game and upland birds. Pheasants and quail may be found, and cottontails and fox squirrels are abundant. This large prey base attracts coyotes, bobcats, hawks, owls, and other predators. A walk through Benedictine Bottoms with binoculars is almost certain to offer thrilling looks at area wildlife.

Although flooding and storms affect annual bird production, the area is known for good pheasant hunting, and deer hunters enjoy a high success rate. All hunting at Benedictine is by special permit only. Waterfowl and upland hunting days are staggered to ensure hunter safety and high-quality hunts. Hunting areas are expansive, allowing all-day walking without covering the same ground.

Artists and photographers also enjoy the area. Fall color is exceptional on the bordering hills, and a pleasing blend of land and water combine with bright skies to create stunning winter panoramas. Spring migration and summer’s verdant growth add to the effect.

Whether you’re a hunter, hiker, or wildlife watcher, Benedictine Bottoms offers something special. Visit and see for yourself one of the state’s most unique natural areas. For more information, phone Kirk Thompson at 913-367-7811. To view a web video of the area, go to the KDWP website,, and click "KDWP TV" in the top right-hand corner of the page.