Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance hosts 4th Annual Niangua Darter Floatilla

Vicki Wood
Lake Sun Leader

The Tunnel Dam Whistle Shallows Bridge served as host sight to Sunday’s Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance’s (LOWA) 4th Annual Niangua Darter floatilla. 36 kayakers, canoers, and even paddleboarders launched from the low water gravel bed at Whistle Bridge into the clear flowing backwaters of the Niangua on a 13.3 mile float to Ha Ha Tonka’s Spring access. The event was open to novice and experts. LOWA Executive Director Donna Swall introduced one couple who were celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary on the float Sunday in the very same canoe in which they used on their honeymoon.  “We work to preserve the water quality of the lake, and also offer education and safety for boaters.  The Niangua Darter is special because it celebrates and focuses on the small fish, The Niangua Darter, which has the largest population in the Niangua and Little Niangua Rivers.  The species is declining due to habitat loss.  It’s only found in about four areas of Central and Western Missouri now” Swall explains.  The small striped, spotted fish is listed as endangered within the state and has a threatened status federally.  LOWA members volunteer at local events and hold plant sales to raise money to keep the waters of the Niangua area clean and thriving for the darter to survive.