Discover the many facets of this area’s natural Missouri roots, including forests, loess hills, prairies, and bobwhite quail.
This Howard County conservation area (CA) showcases a distinctive combination of Missouri landscapes. While more than half of its 2,701 acres are forested, Davisdale CA blends traditional Missouri forest and woodlands with grassland, prairie, rugged loess hills, and more than 800 acres of river-hills woodland including pecan and walnut trees.
A bit of local history accompanies the area’s natural-landscape diversity, with at least three Indian mounds present on the property.
Amid the various types of land cover is a series of scenic limestone bluffs carved by the Missouri River, which now flows 1.5 miles away from the bluffs. Along with the river are 16 lakes or ponds with fishing opportunities for bass, catfish, and sunfish.
In addition to fishing, the area also offers outdoor recreation opportunities for bird watching, primitive camping, hiking, hunting, and trapping with special-use permits. Although there are no designated trails, area access trails are available for hiking, as well as a portion of the Katy Trail that runs along Davisdale CA’s southern boundary. Hunting prospects include deer, dove, quail, rabbit, squirrel, and turkey in their respective seasons.
Davisdale CA is a quail emphasis area, so it is managed especially to maintain early-successional habitat specific to the needs of bobwhite quail. Practices such as brush-pile construction and edge feathering provide good escape cover for these birds. Significant acres of woodlands have recently been thinned and are being managed with prescribed fire to increase plant diversity. Lucky visitors might spy hidden quail broods as chicks begin to hatch this summer.
Other management practices at Davisdale CA work to conserve soil quality. Techniques including contour terraces, catch basins, limited tillage, and crop rotation continue the traditional practices of early settlers in the area. A variety of crops are planted in rotation on about 300 acres, and grain is not harvested to leave winter food for wildlife. Legume and native-grass plantings help control erosion and replace less desirable grasses such as tall fescue.
Davisdale CA is located 15 miles west of Columbia and 7 miles east of Boonville on Highway 40, which can be reached from Interstate 70. As always, visit the area’s website (listed below) for further information including an area map and brochure.
—Rebecca Maples, photo by Noppadol Paothong
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler