It's A Natural!

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Published on: May. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

piles, controlled burns and exotic plant removal are used to maintain and increase the area's wildlife diversity.

Rockwoods Reservation's fascinating cultural history dates back to the late 1700s, when trappers passed through the valley. In 1800, Ninan Hamilton received a Spanish Land grant and started a farm here. Hamilton Creek, which flows through the area, is named for him. Visitors will find remnants of extensive limestone, clay and gravel quarrying. Interpretive signs throughout the area highlight special features or demonstration areas, such as prairie habitat, butterfly gardening, birdfeeding, backyard habitats and the history of lime kilns on the area.

The Conservation Education Center contains a "Please Touch Table," along with exhibits on pond and stream life, area history and diversity, live animals and information about Missouri's fish, forest and wildlife resources. Take a hike, explore the prairie or attend one of the diverse education programs, including Cave Crawls, building a bluebird house, papermaking, pond exploration, Owl Prowl and Night Sounds. For more information about the area and its programs, call (636) 458-2236.

Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery Conservation Center

Located below Table Rock Dam in Branson, Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is Missouri's largest trout hatchery. The facility has been operational since 1958 and hosts nearly 250,000 visitors annually.

In addition to displays explaining how trout are raised, there is also a 12-minute introductory video on trout production across the state. The 3,500-gallon indoor aquarium provides close-up looks at rainbow and brown trout of various sizes. Self-guided tours are available year round. Guided tours are offered weekdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

In addition to seeing and feeding fish, you can enjoy seasonal displays in the Conservation Center. Live displays include amphibians, reptiles, spiders and warm-water fish. Hikers can enjoy the four trails located on the hatchery grounds. Three of the trails meander along the shore of Lake Taneycomo, and the fourth ascends a rugged hillside.

A picnic area and pavilion near the lake are good places to enjoy lunches and snacks. A naturalist is available from May through September to give guided hikes and programs from the overlook area.

All programs and events at Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery are free. We offer two special events each year. Family Fishing Fair is held on the Saturday of Free Fishing Weekend in June. It emphasizes fish, aquatic habitats and fishing opportunities. Visitors can learn how to

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