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|Katy Trail Nature Guide
A handy nature guide to answer all of those "What's That?"
questions along the Katy Trail
"The Nature Guide for the Rest of Us!"
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|By Brett Dufur & Brian Beatte. Illustrated
by Maggie ‘Woodwoman’ Riesenmy. ISBN: 1-891708-14-7. $16.95.
An easy to use one-volume nature guide to everything
you'll see while visiting the Katy Trail -- commonly seen birds, trees,
wildflowers, fossils, turtles, vines, ferns, insects, mammals, reptiles,
amphibians, fish and more. Have you ever asked "What's that?" Then this
book is for you!
Illustrated 4-season nature guide. Why lug around 12 of those
heavy nature guides when you can find everything you need to know in one
book! Identify trees, flowers, birds, animals, insects, butterflies,
rocks, fossils, clouds, reptiles and footprints.
This easy-to-use guide is the perfect outdoor companion. With more than
400 illustrations, it identifies the most commonly seen nature and
wildlife along the Katy Trail and the Missouri River valley.
It includes geology, fossils, trees, wildflowers, vines, ferns, birds,
insects, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, cloud formations, animal
tracks and more. Flora and fauna are categorized by color, size and peak
This book also highlights seven spectacular nature trips to help you
get started. Easy explanations, interested natural history, trivia and a
complete glossary and index make this the perfect nature guide for every
age and knowledge level.
"Finally! A nature guide for the rest of us! No
other book does in one cover what this one will." -- Jim Denny, Missouri
River Historian & River Rat
"Seven or eight handbooks rolled into one. It
fills a wonderful niche for a person eager to explore the Missouri River
eco-system. A biology field manual for the amateur to the professional." --
Hank Ottinger, Naturalist
Reviews of The
Katy Trail Nature
Finally! A nature guide for ‘the rest of us!’ No other book does in
one cover what this one will... Jim Denny, Historian
Seven or eight handbooks rolled into one. It fills a wonderful niche
for a person eager to explore the Missouri River ecosystem. A biology
field manual for the amateur to the professional... Hank Ottinger,
The River Valley Companion could easily have been titled ALMOST
EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT AS YOU HIKE THE KATY TRAIL…BUT WERE
AFRAID TO ASK. The real truth is that you would have had to ask a lot of
people with specialized training to get the information that is packed
into this dandy little manual. I would certainly want one in my day-pack
as I started my journey in this fascinating area of Missouri... H.
Warrington Williams, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Westminster College.
Going out to enjoy nature in your area, you could take along several
books to help you identify flora and fauna, to warn you away from dangers
and point out interesting history related to your excursion. Or, you could
take this compact volume that answers a great many questions and offers
several bonuses. It reviews the ways of the Missouri River, helps you
"read" the sky, suggests good destinations, clothing for maximum
comfort, how to take pictures and more. There's even a glossary of such
words as "bract"-familiar, but perhaps not really understood.
As is characteristic of Pebble books, this one has a friendly eagerness
to share everything readers might find interesting or useful. For
instance, it not only pictures animal tracks, but also lists the colors
different species' eyes reflect in light. There are first-aid procedures
for snake bites and tips on releasing fish with the least possible injury
Illustrations are by Maggie Riesenmy, who is of Cherokee descent. She
gives us new respect for how many distinguishing details can be contained
in black and white. The writing style is digestible by young people but
not too simple for adults. Nature buffs will find much here to enjoy... Joan
Gilbert, The Ozarks Mountaineer
|Katy Trail Nature Guide Table of Contents
Introduction by Randal Clark
How to Use This Book
Missouri Map-Defining the Valley
Immersion in Nature
Reading the Mighty Mo
Types of Natural Communities
Rocks, Soils & Fossils
Trees & Shrubs
Vines, Canes & Rushes
Ferns & Related Plants
Insects & their Relatives
Reptiles & Amphibians
Frogs & Toads
Reading the Sky
Seven River Valley Nature Trips
A Few Missouri Facts
Katy Trail State Park on the Internet
About the Authors & Illustrator
From the Author
How often have you been on a hike and
asked, "What's that?" Here's a book to answer many of these
questions. This book is a beginner's guide to nature. It includes useful
information in a simple, easy-to-understand format. Everything has been
researched, reviewed and edited to make nature identification as simple as
possible. With over 400 illustrations, this book identifies the Missouri
River valley's most common species and explains its diverse ecology, past
The Missouri River valley-often called a basin, the river bottoms and
the floodplain-is the region created by the meanders and cutting of the
Missouri River. For this book, we limit our scope of the Missouri River
valley within the state of Missouri. We define the river valley as all
habitats along the Missouri River, from bluff to bluff plus five miles on
either side of the floodplain.
Many species found along this valley are also found in other river
valley ecosystems, so you will find this book a useful supplement in other
areas as well. Beginning naturalists in other Midwestern states would also
find this a useful reference.
Many of Missouri's other river valleys-such as the Mississippi, Meramec
and Gasconade-also host many of the same species we highlight here.
Missouri is bordered by more rivers than any other state. Can you name
them all? They include the Missouri River, the Mississippi, the St.
Francis, the Osage, the Ohio and the Illinois.
Within the state, the Missouri River travels more than 550 miles from
the western slope at the junction of Kansas, Ohio and Missouri to its
confluence with the Mississippi River in St. Charles. In addition to the
many towns whose original growth was fostered by early river travel,
Missouri's two largest cities-St. Louis and Kansas City-continue to thrive
along the banks of the Big Muddy.
The Missouri River valley is Missouri's most largely undiscovered
gem-in-the-rough. Many naturalists who travel to other states for a
respite from the grasp of society would do well to rediscover all that
this secluded natural corridor has to offer. It is accessible to more than
two-thirds of the state's population in less than one hour, making it the
prime place for many Missourians to enjoy nature.
Great places to enjoy the river valley are numerous. One of our
favorites is the Katy Trail State Park, which winds over 225 miles from
St. Charles to Clinton. In fact, it's America's longest rails-to-trails
project, where an old railroad right-of-way was turned into a gorgeous
hiking and biking path. The Katy Trail follows the Missouri River from St.
Charles in the east to Boonville in the west before departing from the
Missouri River valley and heading southwest to Clinton.
In addition to the Katy Trail, more than 70 conservation areas, 17
state parks and the Mark Twain National Forest border the Missouri River
valley as well as 27 fishing accesses developed by the Department of
Conservation. If you are looking for a great place to enjoy nature, you
may be closer than you think. We've included seven nature trips and a
complete listing of fishing accesses in the back of the book to give you a
This book is very different from other nature guides being published
today. On a walk through the woods, many questions often arise. For a long
time, if you wanted to learn a little bit more about nature, you would
have to arm yourself with at least half a dozen identification guides
specializing in different types of plants or animals.
Obviously, these specialized reference books are truly the best way to
learn a lot about a certain species or region. Yet, there are many more
people who need just a little bit of information, a tidbit of trivia or a
river valley companion to allow their interests in nature to flourish.
This book was written with these people in mind.
This book is interactive. Once you find something in the wild, check it
off your "life list" in the back. This is a handy way to
remember what you have seen. Remember too that there are infinite numbers
of natural features in the valley, so you are also likely to find
something that is not in this book. Also, remember that nature has a way
of confounding us with exceptions.
This book, like a good dog, hates being left behind when you go on a
hike. The best way to learn more about nature is to get out there and
experience it for yourself. Refer to these pages often to learn more about
the nature around you. See you there!
from The Katy Trail Nature Guide
River Valley Companion
Brian Beatte and Brett Dufur.
© 2008. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From the Introduction: The great river that
gives Missouri its name has been called many things, Nishodse or Muddy
Waters, River of the People with Big Canoes, the Big Muddy and the Mighty
Mo. Whatever you call it, the Missouri River is undoubtedly one of the
great river systems of the world.
The Missouri River is more than 2,300 miles long and drains one sixth
of the United States. With its headwaters on the east face of the Rocky
Mountains, near Yellowstone National Park, it flows across the Great
Plains picking up millions of tons of sediment until it enters the
Mississippi River at St. Louis. Beyond St. Louis, the Missouri controls
the character of the Mississippi River system to the Gulf of Mexico. There
have been strong arguments made that the Mississippi River should even be
called a tributary of the Missouri River. If this were so, the Missouri
would be the longest river in the world.
As rivers go, the Missouri River is relatively young. A child of the
Ice Age, it emerged between 10,000 and 2 million years ago in the wake of
the great Continental Glaciers. During this time, each spring and summer
would bring wild floods and the river would rush along at the front of the
melting glacier. This raging torrent carved the giant valley and massive
bluffs that we see today. Eventually, the glaciers retreated to the north,
leaving the river to trace their southernmost limits. As the glaciers
receded, the landscape as well as the plant and animal communities along
the river slowly changed from tundra to the more abundant flora and fauna
we now enjoy.
Ten thousand years ago the Missouri River valley was a wild and
beautiful thing. It was one of the most biologically productive and
diverse places on earth. In the river was an abundant fishery with ancient
species of sturgeon, paddlefish, catfish and many others. The river was a
placid, braided stream with many channels and sandbars. Periodic flooding
allowed the river to meander across its valley constantly creating and
destroying channels. This annual process was ideal for wildlife and
created great wetland areas that supported abundant waterfowl and shore
birds. Great cottonwood forests covered the floodplains. Rich prairies
were also found along the floodplain, bordered by immense upland areas.
Old growth forests of oak and hickory could be found in these special
places. In the forests and prairies could be found many buffalo, elk,
deer, bear and a wide variety of other wildlife.
It was during this time that humans first appeared along the Missouri
River. In this dynamic region they collected fish and shellfish, hunted
great flocks of waterfowl and hunted the abundant wildlife in the forests
and prairies. The Woodlands culture of Native Americans lived along the
river from the time of Christ to about 1300 A.D. These people were the
first to cultivate corn and squash in the fertile floodplain and they
built many burial and ceremonial mounds alongside the river. Around 1300
A.D. the Missouri or Niutachi ("People Who Dwell at the Mouth of the
River") moved into the area. This tribe lived beside the river at its
mouth and in the area around Van Meter State Park. The river was their
main source of food and transportation. The Osage, although a tribe that
lived mainly in southwest Missouri, also lived with the Missouri tribe for
a while near the river.
In the late 1700s Europeans began to trap fur and trade with the Native
Americans along the river. The Missouri River was the major route for
traders and settlers traveling west. Travel along the river was first by
canoe, then keelboat and later steamboat. By 1900, railroads had become
the preferred way to travel along beside the river. Towns, then cities,
sprang up from east to west. Most of the bottomland forests, prairies and
wetlands were quickly converted to cornfields. The Missouri River endured
another series of massive changes after World War II when the upper part
of the river was dammed to form lakes. For these dams, 755 miles of the
cottonwood forest went under water. Along the lower part of the river from
Sioux City downstream, the river was developed for navigation. The river
was cleared, dredged, narrowed and straightened. The backwaters and oxbow
lakes and marshes were filled with accumulated silt.
The impact of these dramatic changes has forever changed the Missouri
River valley. The majority of backwater spawning and nursery areas for
fish are today just a memory. Most of the sandbars used by shore birds
have disappeared. Thousands of areas of lush bottomland forests, marshes
and prairies used by the waterfowl and wildlife have been destroyed. In
the last 100 years alone there has been a 50-90 percent decrease in many
of the habitats along the river-the same habitats that support thousands
of species of plants and animals. The buffalo, elk, wolf and bear were the
first species to disappear. Several species of birds have disappeared as
well and many others have become endangered. As the changes continue, many
of the river's fish may soon follow. Recently, the Missouri River was
declared one of the most threatened in the United States.
There is hope. Several conservation agencies are working on setting
land aside and letting the river reclaim its ancient floodplain. We may
never go back to the natural ecosystem of 200 years ago, but for the sake
of our descendants we must manage the river valley so that we maintain and
enhance the current biological diversity.
This is one of the first books to cover the entire natural history of
the Missouri River valley. With the help of this book, you will be
introduced to the natural history of one of the great river valleys of the
world. It is my hope that you will have fun gaining a greater
understanding of this special river valley and the abundance of natural
features that it supports.