Land Use

HISTORIC LAND USE

The period from 7000 to 1000 B.C. gives the first evidence of Native American activity in the Ozark Region. These peoples lived in small, transient camps and survived mainly on animal foods. Native American groups flourished in the area during the Woodland period (100 B.C. to 900 A.D.), but still clung to their hunter-gatherer ways while the world around them changed. The rugged geography of the region allowed early Native Americans to continue their ways in the region for several hundred years beyond that of tribes on the fringe of the Ozarks, who began to settle in larger villages and use more plant food. Native American peoples during the early Mississippian period (A.D. 900 to 1200) created larger and more elaborate villages and relied more on farming for food. Native American culture disappeared from the region in a period from around A.D. 1200 to A.D. 1500. The main cause for this was a move of peoples to the large agricultural villages along the Mississippi River. During this period the Ozark region was used for seasonal hunting and the collection of flint. Following this decline, Osage tribes inhabited the area up to and during early European settlement (Jacobson and Primm 1994).

The Native Americans' most notable effect on the lands of the region was a result of their use of fire. Fires set by Native Americans are thought to have been significant in determining the plant distribution of the region. Some anthropologist believe that fires were set to improve grassland for grazing of large animals, aid in hunting, and harassment of enemies (Jacobson and Primm 1994).

The United States gained control of the Ozarks and the watershed in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The first Europeans settled the narrow valleys and built their homes near springs. The population of the rugged interior of the Ozarks grew more slowly than the surrounding areas, with emigrants coming from different ethnic groups. Many of the earliest pioneers were from Kentucky and Tennessee and were attracted by the watershed's abundance of game and fish, rather than by its farming possibilities (Keefe and Morrow 1994).

The first changes in the landscape caused by land use patterns began taking place in the early 1800s to around 1880. Valley bottom forests and cane stands were replaced with cultivated fields and pastures. Suppression of wildfires in the uplands during the same period allowed an increase in understory growth in woodlands and losses of native grasslands and savannahs. The clearing of valley bottoms was probably responsible for some direct stream disturbance, but the suppression of fires in the uplands probably offset sediment yield (Jacobson and Primm 1994).

The second noticeable pattern in early land use was commercial timber harvest. Timber harvest on a large scale started around 1870 and continued until the 1920s. Shortleaf pines were harvested for sawlogs and oaks for railroad ties. The early logging operations used livestock to skid out the lumber, and cutting on the steeper slopes was avoided. This helped to minimize the effects of the early logging period (Jacobson and Primm 1994). The continued practice of valley clearing and road building coupled with extreme regional flooding between 1895 and 1915, was probably responsible for the initial moderate stream disturbance (Jacobson and Primm 1994).

The period between 1920 and 1960, known as the post-timber-boom, played the largest role in stream disturbances that are evident today. The practices of this period included annual burning and cutting of upland timber to open more grazing land, a practice still in place today. Oral-history indicates that small streams had more discharge, for longer periods, during this time than from 1960 to 1993. These changes in flow patterns can probably be attributed to changes in upland and riparian zone vegetation that decreased storage and flow resistance (Jacobson and Primm 1994).

During the early settlement period and throughout most of the timber boom, hogs were the dominant livestock in the area, only to be replaced by cattle following substantial increases in the 1920s and again in the 1940s. Early cattle were grazed on free range, which allowed them to concentrate in valley bottoms and destroy riparian vegetation and understory along streambanks. This destruction of riparian vegetation, coupled with the clearing and grazing of uplands, probably initiated headwater channel migrations, resulting in the extension of drainage networks and the accelerated release of gravel into small streams (Jacobson and Primm 1994). Free range was closed in the 1960's and areas were fenced. Fencing, along with improvements in the beef market, increased the areal density of cattle on pastures tremendously. The period from 1960 to 1993 showed decreases in the amount of farm land, but cattle numbers continued to increase (Jacobson and Primm 1994).

RECENT LAND USE

Forest land comprises the greatest percentage of land use/land cover types in the watershed at an estimated 57.2%, followed by pasture land (27.2%), range land (5.4%), noncultivated cropland (3.2%), urban (2.7%), water (1.6%), roads (1.5%), miscellaneous (1.4%), and cultivated cropland (0.2%) (Table Lu01, Table Lu02, and Table Lu03) (Barney, T., NRCS, pers. comm.). Land use/land cover for the Missouri portion of the watershed from 1997 figures was: deciduous forest (36.8 %), mixed forest (24.4%), (total forest cover 61.2%), grassland (31.0%), water (3.9%), cropland (2.4%), and urban (1.5%) (Figure Lu01). The 1997 land use/land cover data is Phase 1 data from the Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership (MoRAP 1997). The MoRAP land cover project is ongoing, and the Phase I map is an interim product designed for limited use. Phase 2 will incorporate extensive ground-based information, and is scheduled to be completed during 1999.

Livestock accounts for greater than 75% of agricultural sales in all Missouri counties in the watershed. Barry County lead all Missouri counties, statewide, in 1992 with a total market value for agriculture of 95 million dollars. The majority of the Barry County sales were from poultry production followed by cattle production (MASS 1997).

Southwest Missouri, including portions of the watershed, is one of the largest cattle producing regions in the state. Figures from 1997 indicate that all watershed counties, except Stone and Taney, had 60,000 or more head of cattle. In 1997, Barry, Wright, and Webster counties were the number seven, eight, and nine counties in the state for numbers of beef cattle. These counties compromise approximately 10% of Missouri's portion of the watershed. Cattle numbers are recorded annually nationwide on a county basis. In order to generate cattle numbers at a watershed level, the amount of watershed area included in a particular county first had to be calculated. This method is only good to the point that it considers cattle to be equally spaced throughout the county. There were an estimated 141,340 (3.3% of state total) cattle in the Missouri portion of the watershed on January 1, 1997 (MASS 1997).

Historic and active mining have been and are present throughout the watershed (Table Lu04). Lead was the most common mineral historically mined throughout the watershed, but no lead mining is ongoing today. There were historically sixty-three active lead mines and fifteen exploratory lead prospects in the watershed (MDNR 1998a). Mining operations are concentrated, and the effects of these operations have potential to impact watershed streams. Sand and gravel mining are the most common type of active mines. There are currently ninety known gravel removal locations in the watershed, fifty in Missouri and forty in Arkansas (Table Lu05, Figure Lu02) (USCOE 1998). The largest number of active gravel removal locations in the Missouri portion of the watershed occurs in the Beaver Creek subwatershed. Most sand and gravel operations are located directly adjacent to stream channels, and have the most potential for disturbing aquatic life.

Seasonal closures on the excavation of sand and gravel were placed on four stream reaches under General Permit GP-34M issued by the USCOE.

These reaches are:

  • Beaver Creek, 23 miles, from mouth to Highway 76 bridge at Bradleyville (T24N, R18W, S10), Taney County, closed March 15 to July 31;
  • Swan Creek, 2.3 miles, from Bull Shoals Lake (T24N, R20W, S33) to COE boundary (T24N, R20W, S33), Taney County, closed March 15 to June 15;
  • Little North Fork, 4.2 miles, from Bull Shoals Lake (T22N, R15W, S19) to COE boundary (T22N, R15W, S04), Ozark County, closed March 15 to June 15;
  • Pond Fork, 3 miles, from Bull Shoals Lake (T22N, R15W, S19) to COE boundary (T22N, R16W, S1), Ozark County, closed March 15 to June 15.

At the time of this writing, these restrictions no longer apply.

There are currently nineteen limestone quarries operating in the Missouri portion of the watershed (Table Lu06, Figure Lu03). These facilities are regulated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and must meet air and discharge standards. These operations have the potential to negatively affect water quality by discharging lime to surface and ground water (MDNR 1998b).

WATERSHED POPULATION

The total (MO and AR) watershed human population in 1990 was 177,233 which is an increase of 12.0% from 1980 figures. Nineteen of the twenty counties that are partially or fully in the watershed have shown population increases from 1990 to 1996.

The majority of population growth in the Missouri portion of the watershed can be attributed to urban sprawl from the Springfield area and booming tourism associated with the Branson-Table Rock Lake region. Christian (44%), Stone (40%), and Taney (33%) counties were the top three counties for growth by percent in Missouri from 1990 to 1997, and these counties are projected to remain in the top ten Missouri counties for growth between 1990 and 2020. Six of the eight Missouri counties associated with the watershed are estimated to have population increases at rates higher than the state average (9%) through the year 2020 (Table Lu07, Table Lu08). The population of Christian County is expected to nearly double in the period from 1990 to 2020. The watershed towns of Hollister (3rd) and Branson (4th) also made the top 10 list for population increase for towns of over 2,500 people (Missouri State Office of Administration 1998).

Northwestern Arkansas has, in a period from 1970-1985, had the largest percentage population increase in the state. The watershed's Arkansas counties that lie along the Missouri border have shown increases between 39% and 95% for this time period. All counties in the Arkansas portion of the watershed, with the exception of one, have had population increases between 23% to 95% in this time period (Table Lu09) (U.S. Census Bureau 1998).

Although some of these counties are not totally included in the watershed, the conclusion can be drawn that in areas where county populations have increased, so too has the watershed population. These ever-continuing population increases will put more demand on water resources and become an added threat to the water quality of the region, especially in the Bull and Swan Creek subwatersheds (Christian County) and the areas influencing Table Rock Lake and Lake Taneycomo.

The majority of the Missouri watershed is rural with a population density of 34.2 people per mi2. The Missouri state average is 64.8 people per mi2. Higher population densities occur in the Table Rock-Taneycomo region in Missouri and the Beaver Lake region in northwest Arkansas.

Larger metropolitan areas in the watershed, based on the 1990 U.S. census figures, include Branson, MO (11,364), Ava, MO (2,938), Hollister, MO (2,628), Kimberling City, MO (1,590) Forsyth, MO (1,161), Harrison, AR (9,922), Berryville, AR (3,212,) Green Forest, AR (2,050), Eureka Springs, AR (1,900), and West Fork, AR (1,607) (U.S. Census Bureau 1998).

SOIL CONSERVATION AND WATERSHED PROJECTS

There are currently no PL 566 or SALT projects in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed.

PUBLIC AREAS

Public areas in the Missouri portion of the watershed are numerous and managed by several state and federal agencies (Table Lu10, Figure Lu04). The Drury-Mincy Conservation Area (CA) is the largest (5,699 acres) area owned and managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) in the watershed. MDC owns and manages 18,783 acres with additional management responsibility on 18,625 acres of land owned by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USCOE) (Houf, L., MDC, pers. comm.). Plans have also been developed for two additional MDC access sites on Lake Taneycomo. The Cooper Creek Access will add a 29.4-acre access to Lake Taneycomo in Taney County. A lease agreement was signed in 1996 between MDC and Empire District Electric Company (EDEC) to develop land adjacent to Boston Ferry Conservation Area into an additional access. Ownership issues concerning the 1.77-acre addition have put this project on hold. A third access site on Lake Taneycomo, Empire Park Access, was recently upgraded as part of a Corporate and Agency Partnership Program (CAPP) agreement between MDC and EDEC.

The United States Forest Service (USFS) has responsibility for the management of the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri, with a watershed-wide total of 186,253 acres of public land. Forest Service land is managed in two units, the Cassville Ranger Unit (45,028 acres), with responsibility for the western portion of the watershed and the Ava Ranger Unit (141,225 acres), with responsibility for the eastern portion of the watershed. The Hercules Glade Wilderness (12,315) is located within the Ava Ranger Unit.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) has management responsibility for the lands in Roaring River State Park (3,403 acres) and Table Rock State Park (356 acres).

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AG&FC) manages 25,173 acres in that state's portion of the watershed. The USFS manages 5,000-7,000 acres in the upper White River as part of the Ozark National Forest. There are three state parks in the Arkansas portion of the watershed managed by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (Table Lu11, Figure Lu05).

The USCOE owns 98,684 acres of land surrounding the three large lakes in the watershed; Beaver Lake (12,256), Table Rock Lake (24,102), Bull Shoals Lake (62,326). The majority of the land remains under the control of the USCOE and is open to the public. Some USCOE land has been leased to other state, federal, and local agencies. A small amount of USCOE land is leased to individuals for their personal use (Milholland, M., USCOE, pers. comm.).

CORPS OF ENGINEERS JURISDICTION

The White River watershed is under the jurisdiction of the Little Rock District of the USCOE. Permits issued under Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act are required to conduct many instream activities. Applications for Section 404 permits should be directed to the Little Rock office. In addition, current listings of Section 404 permits are available from the Little Rock USCOE District Office:

Little Rock District Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 867
Little Rock, AR 72203-0867
Phone: (501)324-5295

Table Lu01: Land use/cover for the Missouri portion of the White River watershed

Land use/cover for the Missouri portion of the White River watershed. More

Table Lu02: Land use/cover for the Arkansas portion of the White River watershed

Land use/cover for the Arkansas portion of the White River watershed. More

Table Lu03: Land use/cover for the entire White River watershed

Land use/cover for the entire White River watershed. More

Figure Lu01: Land use/cover of the White River watershed

Land use/cover map of the White River watershed. More

Table Lu04: Historic and active mine types found in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed, by county

Historic and active mine types found in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed, by county. More

Table Lu05: Known gravel removal locations in the White River watershed

Known gravel removal locations in the White River watershed. More

Figure Lu02: Known gravel removal locations in the White River Watershed

Map of known gravel removal locations in the White River Watershed. More

Table Lu06: Permitted limestone quarries in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed

Permitted limestone quarries in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed. More

Figure Lu03: Limestone quarries in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed

Map of limestone quarries in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed. More

Table Lu07: Total county populations and estimated changes for Missouri counties

Total county populations and estimated changes for Missouri counties that include portions of the White River watershed. More

Table Lu08: Projected population increases in Missouri counties that include portions of the White River watershed

Projected population increases in Missouri counties that include portions of the White River watershed. More

Table Lu09: Populations and estimated changes for Arkansas counties that include portions of the White River watershed

Populations and estimated changes for Arkansas counties that include portions of the White River watershed. More

Table Lu10: Public areas in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed

Public areas in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed. More

Figure Lu04: Public areas in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed

Map of public areas in the Missouri portion of the White River watershed. More

Table Lu11: Public areas in the Arkansas portion of the White River watershed

Public areas in the Arkansas portion of the White River watershed. More

Figure Lu05: Public areas in the Arkansas portion of the White River watershed

Map of public areas in the Arkansas portion of the White River watershed. More
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