The 13,929 acre area is largely wetlands with several large tracts of bottomland forest. It has over 21 miles of stream frontage and a large natural area.
The initial purchase of nearly 4,500 acres for the area occurred in 1982. A large-scale construction project completed in 1996 restored over 2,000 acres of this area (Units 1 and 2) to productive, manageable wetlands. Developments include a pump station, a water storage reservoir, and a system of levees and water control structures that allow control of water levels in 14 separate marshes.
In 1998, an additional 7,036 acres (Unit 3 and 4) were added to the area through a cooperative partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ducks Unlimited, the North American Wetland Conservation Council, and the Busch family. In 1999, the area was renamed the August A. Busch, Jr. Memorial Wetlands at Four Rivers to honor the former Conservation Department Commissioner and a man who cherished wetlands and waterfowl. This new addition was developed into three pools in Unit 3 and six pools in Unit 4 to include 3,200 total acres of wetlands in 2000 and 2001.
The area is primarily managed for wetland species using a variety of moist-soil management techniques, along with some agricultural crops. The managed waterfowl hunting program, along with 'open hunting' units provides waterfowl hunting opportunity to several thousand hunters annually.