Conservation, nature, and outdoor recreation go hand in hand. This essential partnership is apparent at Carroll County’s Bunch Hollow Conservation Area (CA). This 3,294-acre area in northwestern Missouri features conservation practices designed to restore the land to its natural woodlands while offering numerous outdoor recreation opportunities and providing great wildlife habitat.
Bunch Hollow CA’s landscape displays distinctive features including rugged, rocky outcroppings and forests that offer a hint of Ozark appeal but have productive soils characteristic of northern Missouri.
Visitors can explore the area on foot, bicycle, or horseback using a 4.5-mile multiuse trail. Nine fishing lakes offer anglers a chance to lure bass, catfish, and bluegill, while deer, turkey, dove, quail, and small game draw hunters.
Bunch Hollow CA, currently a mixture of about 1,300 acres of forest along with grassland, savanna, cropland, and old fields, formerly featured a combination of prairie and woodlands. Woodlands and savannas accounted for 25 percent of the region, accompanied by vast prairies. Due to lack of fire, overgrazing, and land conversion, today’s woodlands account for only 10 percent of the region while prairies are virtually nonexistent. Approximately 40 acres of natural prairie occur at Bunch Hollow CA today.
To return Bunch Hollow CA to its roots, 1,000 acres in the area’s central portion are designated for prairie, woodland, and savanna restoration. Area managers use techniques such as prescribed burning to encourage development of a natural plant community like the one that existed on the land historically. Many native warm-season grasses and forbs, including blazing star, bluestem, compass plant, coneflower, Indian grass, and rattlesnake master, are responding to management efforts. Woodland thinning and timber stand improvement projects have opened up the woodlands and enhanced understory diversity.
Bunch Hollow CA is one of MDC’s 19 quail emphasis areas managed especially to improve habitat for bobwhite quail and other grassland birds. Management practices including prescribed fire, woody cover renovation, planting food plots, and controlling invasive cool-season grasses and undesirable vegetation play a vital role in success for upland wildlife. Managers conduct spring grassland bird surveys and fall covey surveys to measure this success.
Bunch Hollow CA is located about 10 miles north of Carrollton off of Highway 65 and Route Z. For information, including an area map, visit the website listed below.
—Rebecca Maples, photo by David Stonner
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