ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI) - There are new concerns about a long-protected wildlife area on the St. Charles riverfront. The sale of the 160-acre Bangert Island Wildlife Area has just gone through.
Bangert Island has been a wildlife oasis since the late Louis Bangert bought it around 1950. His children wanted to keep it that way and donated it to the Missouri Department of Conservation in 1976. The City of St. Charles just bought it for $350,000.
It’s in the shadow of one of the nation’s busiest stretches of interstate, just south of the Blanchette Bridge along the Missouri River in St. Charles. But there are much different ways of getting around on the island: jogging, hiking, mountain biking.
“Outside the mountain biking circle nobody really knows this place is even here,” said Tim Cole, of South Side Cyclery in St. Louis.
He was biking the trails with his son and his son’s friend.
“Mountain bikers just starting off, they buy a bike from my shop, I suggest Bangert Island,” Cole said. “Don’t touch the island. Leave the island alone. We love the island.”
“We don’t want to and we can’t do anything on the island and we won’t. It will stay natural,” insisted St. Charles Mayor, Sally Faith.
Developers have had big plans for the shoreline next to the island in the past: like the more than billion dollar Harbor San Carlos plan floated about six years ago. Even in that plan Bangert Island was protected. It included footbridges spanning a slough that would be dredged to separate the island from shore.
The mayor admitted the dredging and the bridges were near certainties. Beyond that, she said, no shoreline development was on the table.
She said development was likely in the next 10 years, but only on the shoreline, not the island.
“We need to know where can we do some growing and where can we do some changes. That waterfront, the shoulder of the Missouri River is just an ideal place to do it,” she said.
“I think it’s one of the few places in this area that you can go and get away from the hustle and the bustle. The casino’s right there. You’ve got this new development over here. I’m all a fan for it if it helps business growth but if it blocks this kind of stuff out, it’s not good,” Cole said.
Louis Bangert's granddaughter told FOX 2 his descendants applauded the sale because flooding often cut off access to the island. Footbridges and the slough were ideal, she said.
Covenants against things like motor vehicles, firearms, and commercial development were still in place, she said.