Historic Land Use
In the early 1800s, the Osage, Delaware and Kickapoo Indians inhabited the Watershed. Open, grass-covered woodlands covered most of the Springfield Plateau. Streamside forests were dominated by bottomland tree species, and post oak savanna covered the level uplands. White settlers appeared around the area that is now Springfield in 1818. Bottomland timber was soon cleared in order to grow crops in the fertile soils. The combination of available open range in the uplands and abundant grain production in the bottomlands proved appealing to livestock growers. In 1850, the cattle density on "improved lands" in this area was higher than any other area of Missouri (Currier 1989).
By the end of the 1880s, several railroads were established and grain crops transported to large commercial centers such as Kansas City. As more settlers moved in, the open rangeland was fenced into partitions which resulted in overgrazing. The annual prairie fires that played such an important role in defining the landscape were suppressed, resulting in the encroachment of brush and trees (Currier 1989).
Grain production continued to be the dominant agricultural practice until the early 1900s. Reduced soil fertility and productivity, as well as declining grain prices forced producers to change farming practices. Diversified agriculture and dairy farming dominated the agricultural practices for the region and continue to the present (Currier 1989).
Present Land Use
Land Use/Cover. Grassland covers 53% of the Watershed and forest covers 37% (Table Lu01; Figure Lu01). Much of the grassland is used as pasture. The Watershed’s southern 2/3s (Upper Pomme de Terre , Middle Pomme de Terre and Lindley Creek HUCs) is dominated by grasslands (63%), and the northern 1/3 is dominated by forest (57%) (Table Lu02).
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. As of February 1997, there were no Class I concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) as classified by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). However, there were 63 Class II CAFOs (Figure Lu02). The highest density of CAFOs occurred in the southern part of the Watershed where topography is flatter and there is little public land. Almost half of the CAFOs in the watershed (30) were located in the Upper Pomme de Terre HUC. Dairy farming was prominent; 45 of the 63 CAFOs were permitted dairy operations.
Gravel Removal Operations There are currently fifteen known active gravel removal locations in the Watershed (Table Lu03; Figure Lu03). Most sand and gravel operations are located directly along stream channels and have the potential for disturbing aquatic life. Results from a recent study from the Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Arkansas indicate that instream gravel removal, below the normal high water line, significantly degrades the quality of Ozark stream ecosystems. The study compared sites above, at, and below gravel operations and found that at and downstream from gravel removal locations, stream channel form was altered, resulting in an increase in sedimentation and turbidity, shallower and larger pools, and fewer riffles. The resultant extensive flats favored large numbers of a few small fish species. The removal of riparian vegetation, large woody debris, and large substrate particles resulted in smaller invertebrates and smaller fish at disturbed and downstream sites. The study found that silt-free substrate is a valuable resource to Ozark stream biota, and alteration of physical habitat appears to have a greater influence on the biotic community than limitations imposed on other resources, such as food (Brown and Lyttle 1992).
Populations and urban expansion. Eleven towns are located in the Watershed (Figure Lu01). The largest is Bolivar with a population of 12,000 plus and growing rapidly. The effects of urban sprawl from Springfield, are likely impacting streams in the Watershed, especially those in the upstream (southern) portions. Trend analysis shows that populations levels in five of the six counties encompassing the Watershed are expected to increase more than 19.0% between the years of 1990 to 2020 (Tables Lu04 and Lu05). Polk and Webster county populations are expected to increase more than 30%. These increases far exceed the statewide projection of 9.0% population growth. The human population in the six-county region encompassing the Watershed is expected to increase by 21.7% from 1990 to 2020. This is 2.4 times the expected statewide increase. Streams in the Watershed are currently being negatively impacted by urban and suburban development (e.g. sewage treatment, runoff, etc.) and the increase in population will, in all likelihood, exacerbate problems. Addressing impacts caused by population growth should be considered a priority for aquatic resource management.
Soil Conservation and Watershed Projects
The Crane Creek Special Area Land Treatment (SALT) project is the only watershed based project in the Watershed. SALT projects are small state funded watershed programs administered by local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Salt projects are implemented in an attempt to slow or stop soil erosion. The Crane Creek Salt Project was initiated in June 1995. The project area is 8,596 acres with 1,671 pasture land, 267 woodland, and 10 fields with gullies, identified as needing treatment. The project is scheduled to be completed in June of 1999 (Wood, T., Hickory County, NRCS, pers. comm.).
There are 41,113 acres of public land in the watershed including: 39,480 owned by the USACE, 757 owned by the MDNR, and 876 acres owned by the MDC (Figure Lu04). MDC leases and manages 11,106 acres of USACE land, 4,019 of these acres surround Pomme de Terre Lake. Access to the majority of this land is limited because many roads and trails to it are in private ownership. Access has also been a limiting factor to management of these areas (Conway, C., MDC, pers. comm.). MDC leases and has management responsibility around Truman Lake, USACE land, including, Little Pomme de Terre (2,176 acres) and Cross Timbers (4,019 acres) wildlife management areas (Gilmore, L., MDC, pers. comm.).
United States Army Corps of Engineers Jurisdiction
The Watershed is under the regulatory authority of the Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The USACE is responsible for certain regulation of water courses, some dams, and flood control projects. Permits issued under Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act may be required to conduct instream or wetland projects. Applications and questions concerning these permits should be directed to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
700 Federal Building
Kansas City, MO 64106