Black Island Conservation Area

Black Island Conservation Area contains three areas, Wolf Bayou, Gayoso Bend, and Stephen C. Bradford Unit. 

Wolf Bayou is one of the state's last natural lowland lakes. The area provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and is managed to maintain unique forest cover and aquatic resources. Forest cover in the Bootheel region is less than two percent of the land area. The forest is a remnant of the once extensive bottomland hardwood forest that covered more than two million acres of the Missouri Bootheel. The area has four bayous totaling 43 acres of surface water. While there is little doubt the bayous are river formed, their exact origin is unclear. The deep, steep-sided , linear bayous have both washout and oxbow characteristics. Wolf Bayou itself is a designated natural area.

Gayoso Bend Conservation Area is located in Pemiscot County north of Caruthersville. It encompasses 968 acres of forestland, including 125 acres of wooded sloughs. The Mississippi River provides two miles of river frontage on the east side. The area is very flat with elevations ranging from 260-270 feet above mean sea level. Rare plants and animals in the vicinity include primrose willow, saltmarsh aster, interior least tern, and cotton mouse. Access is limited to a walk-in easement only.

The Stephen C. Bradford Unit of Black Island Conservation Area is enrolled in the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), which is a program through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), which is designed to restore and protect wetlands.The Stephen C. Bradford Unit consists of a recent abandoned river channel of the Mississippi River. Two wetland pools were created, and will be managed for waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds. There is a graveled parking boat ramp that enables access to Gayoso Bend Conservation Area. 

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Latitude: 36.278968 Longitude: -89.695722 Elevation: 264 ft

Recreational Opportunities

Bird watching, canoeing, hiking, hunting, fishing, and trapping with special use permit.

Seasons Accessible

  • Area may be closed during periods of high water.
  • Open for public use from 4 a.m. To 10 p.m.; hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, dog training, launching and landing boats is allowed 24 hours a day on areas where these activities are permitted.
  • Parking or storing watercraft or commercial vehicles on department areas during closed hours is prohibited


There are no fees for using Missouri Conservation Areas. These areas are funded by the 1/8th of 1% Conservation State Sales Tax.

Accessibility Notes

This area does not have accessibility features for the disabled.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets and hunting dogs are permitted but must be on a leash or confined at all time. Hunting dogs may be used off the leash and unconfined for hunting and training for the purposes of chasing, locating, tracking or retrieving game. A valid small game hunting permit is required to train dogs in pursuit of wildlife.

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