The Conservation Department purchased the area in 1991 to restore a small portion of wetlands that once flourished along the Nodaway River floodplain. A four-mile stretch of the Nodaway River flows through the middle of the area and provides habitat for both migratory and resident wildlife species.
A major wetland development project on the Nodaway Valley Conservation Area was completed in 2002. The project enabled the restoration of more than 2,000 acres of shallow wetland habitat and more than 400 acres of prairie and bottomland hardwood forest in the Nodaway River floodplain. The development project was made possible by the contributions of a diverse group of partners, including: The North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Holt County Levee District #5, The National Wild Turkey Federation, Wildlife Forever, The Missouri Prairie Foundation, Boy Scouts of America Troop 81 of Oregon, Mo., Northwest Missouri Quail Unlimited, Northland Pheasants Forever, Ideker Inc., and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The area is managed primarily to provide wetland habitat for a wide range of game and non-game wildlife. Management practices on the area include farming, controlled burning, planting of various trees, shrubs and grasses; and pumping and releasing water in the wetland pools.
This area has been designated by Audubon Missouri as an Important Bird Area (IBA). IBAs are sites that have been identified by Audubon as those that are the most crucial for bird population, due to their abundance and/or diversity of birds present. Peak times for viewing waterfowl are mid-November and mid-March. In 2012 the Kathleen Lance Family donated 48 acres as an addition to the Area. This addition is located south and east of Area Proper.