SPANISH LAKE, Mo. — It's sunflower season!
The bright yellow blooms have returned to the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area this summer.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) plants the colorful sunflower displays every year for the public, but the flowers couldn't be planted in 2019 due to flooding. Luckily, conditions are much more favorable this year, MDC said.
Visitors flock to the popular attraction for photo opportunities, but it's a popular destination for hunters, too.
MDC uses the fields to help manage mourning doves, who like to eat the seeds and hide in the flowers' stalks. The seeds are planted in time for the dove hunting season in September.
This year, staff have added more plantings in addition to the dove management fields, some of which are visible from the road. The plantings have also been staggered so that the 10-day sunflower blooms are spread out between early July and mid-August.
"We’re really excited about one of the plantings; we strategically placed it so that there’s a chance that it will provide a pretty spectacular view from the cropland overlook,” MDC Wildlife Biologist Jessi Tapp said in a press release.
The area is open daily, from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. It can be reached by taking the Riverview Drive exit from Interstate 270 and driving north for three miles.
Guests are reminded not to pick the sunflowers. Cars should be parked in designated parking lots or on the shoulder of the road, and social distancing should be practiced.