My Land Was Washing Away
Jim Cottrell raises cattle, corn and soybeans on 1250 acres southwest of St. Louis. In October 2022, on a farm his folks bought on Huzzah Creek in 1927, excavators broke ground on a big project.
“For years, it made me sick to see what was happening on that creek,” said Jim. “Stream banks were eroding. We lost a lot of ground, and there wasn’t much use fishing any more. My land was washing away.”
A mutual friend urged Cottrell to call Rob Pulliam (Missouri Department of Conservation). Jim had worked with Pulliam before, and trusted him. “He needed engineering,” said Pulliam, “so I brought in Steve Herrington (The Nature Conservancy) and Abigail Lambert (Ozark Land Trust). We came up with funding and a project that’s a win for everyone.”
On this sunny October afternoon, excavators on the site are cutting back banks to make room for tree root balls, logs, stone and burrito-like soil lifts designed to hold their own when water rises. After the banks are reshaped, native grasses and forbs will be planted and later harvested.
Said Lambert, “Rob and the Shoal Creek Woodlands for Wildlife farmer-led committee primed the pump by listening, showing what can be done, and bringing in partners like Fishers & Farmers to fit pieces together across the watershed.”
The watershed was named one of 10 Waters To Watch by the National Fish Habitat Partnership in 2022.