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White River Trace CA

If you’re looking for good quail hunting this season, load up your bird dogs and head to White River Trace CA. Like Indian Trail CA to the east, White River Trace CA draws its name from an ancient Osage Indian trail that crosses the area’s southeastern corner. Carved into the surface of the land by countless feet over hundreds of years, the “trace” is still visible. During this period of history, the 2,044-acre area was covered with grasslands, glades, savannas and open woodlands. It teemed with wildlife, including songbirds, deer, turkey and bobwhite quail. In the years that followed, however, land use drastically altered the landscape. Intensive grazing and the introduction of exotic, cool-season grasses virtually eliminated native grasses and shrubby growth. Fire suppression allowed trees to engulf the savannas.

By the time the Conservation Department bought the area in 1988, it had few quail because it had almost no quail habitat. The Conservation Department bought the land especially because of its potential for management as habitat for quail and other birds and wildlife that thrive in open lands. The plan was to establish plant communities similar to what existed there originally. The first step was to replace fescue pastures with a mix of warm-season grasses, including little bluestem, and other native plants, such as partridge pea, native lespedezas and Maximillian sunflower. Fire-tolerant woody plants such as hazelnut, American plum and sumac were part of the restoration effort, and managers continue to use prescribed fire and other techniques to maintain habitat diversity.

Today the area is one of 19 Quail Emphasis Areas. It once again supports a healthy quail population and more than 100 other species of birds. Hunters can pursue a variety of wildlife during season, and anglers will find fair fishing for bass, catfish and sunfish.

Hikers will appreciate several miles of internal service roads, as well as 1.1 miles of the historic Osage Indian Trail. Facilities include a disabled-accessible parking lot and privy. The camping area offers individual sites but no amenities. To reach the area, which lies about 20 miles due south of Rolla, take Route H west nine miles to Dent County Road 253 and go south 1.3 miles. As always, visit the area’s web page (listed below) for special notices, brochure and map before traveling.

—Bonnie Chasteen, photo by David Stonner

Recreation opportunities: Fishing, birding, camping rabbits and squirrels

Unique features: Two lakes and four ponds annually stocked

For More Information Call: 573-368-2225 or visit mdc.mo.gov/a8917.

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