BLACK ISLAND CONSERVATION AREA: BRADFORD UNIT
Allen Gathman, 2016
6365.24 Acres Pemiscot Co. DeLorme 71, B-9
MDC owned; for more
information call 573-290-5730
Hayti I-55 exit, take Highway 84 east, then County Road 337 north, and County
Road 338 east to the area.
ADA Information: Birders with limited walking ability have
good opportunities to experience the area from the parking lots, camping area,
and by car along the elevated roads.
Visit/Species to Expect:
interest to birders: 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) designed to restore and protect wetlands.
The Stephen C. Bradford Unit consists of a recently abandoned river channel of
the Mississippi River. Two wetland pools were created, and will be managed for
waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds. The remaining portion of the area is
agriculture fields that will be converted to riverfront forest.
About 400 feet after entering the area on CR 338, there is a parking lot to the
left. From this lot it is possible to
walk along a ditch northward about 300 yards. The trees and shrubs along the ditch often harbor warblers and tanagers,
while the fields to the east are good for grassland species. This is also a good location to watch for
A half mile further east
on CR 338 there is a parking area with a gravel boat launch on the right. This spot offers a good view of a slough
where there may be some waterfowl, and of more woodland species in the trees
around the parking lot, as well as across the slough on the edge of the Gayoso
One-third mile beyond
the boat ramp parking area, CR338 reaches the eastern boundary of the Bradford
Unit. If you stop here it is possible to
walk north along the edge of the conservation area for some distance. To the west there are trees and brush that
are good for passerines, and depending on conditions, there should be some
marsh or shallow pond areas spanning the boundary. This marshy area has produced shorebirds and
waders, including American Bitterns on one occasion.
Continuing one-half mile
further east on CR338 (1.4 miles from the point where the road first entered
the conservation area), CR339 branches off to the left (unmarked). The slightly raised roadbed provides another
opportunity to view the marsh and shallow pond areas to the west and open
fields to the east.
CR339 reaches a strip of
conservation area at a tree line in 0.4 mile, and follows the area boundary
north one-fourth mile to another tree line. At the second tree line, turn west to a parking area between
fields. This area is mostly good for
grassland species. It is marked as a
primitive camping area on the MDC map.
After this parking area, the road continues west and north by half-mile zig-zags to another parking lot (about 2 miles from the camping area in total). From here it is usually possible to walk west along a small ditch and tree line. There is excellent grassland habitat north of this line, and the trees have been good for warblers and orioles. There is a large shallow pond (marked “Big Lake” on the MDC map) southwest of this line that has been good for waders, gulls, and waterfowl, sometimes in large numbers. Depending on conditions it may be possible to walk to the levee about one-third mile west of the parking area.
If you return to the campground,
you can follow CR339 one-half mile north to CR336. Continue a half mile east on CR336 to a junction
with CR333. From here, go three-quarters
of a mile north on CR333 to a parking area with a gate to the right. Walking in to the east about 1/3 mile you
reach an extensive newly developed pond and wetland area and Robinson Lake, all
of which should provide waders, shorebirds and waterfowl.
It is also possible to
continue east from the CR333/CR336 junction 3 miles to get access to the
easternmost portion of the Bradford Unit. There are several gates along CR336 between 3 and 4.5 miles east of CR
333. The gate 3.5 miles east of CR333
gives foot access to a fairly good service road north through the woods; this
should be good for woodland species.
primitive camping area on CR339.
public use is prohibited, except fishing and waterfowl hunting by boat only,
when the Mississippi River water level is at or above twenty-eight (28)
feet on the Caruthersville gauge.
The area is popular with
hunters, particularly during deer seasons. Check the MDC website for dates and take appropriate precautions.
There are no formal
trails. Walking may be difficult
depending on the time of year and extent of recent maintenance. Most wooded areas have a lot of poison
The county roads
mentioned are all gravel at best, and may be impassable due to mud if there has
been a lot of rainfall. High-clearance
vehicles are recommended.
Sites: Triangle Boat Club Access; Black Island Conservation Area – Gayoso Bend Unit; Black Island Conservation Area – DeSoto Unit; Black Island Conservation Area – Wolf Bayou Unit.