Rooted in educating the public on proper forest management, this 772-acre area in Greene County offers a glimpse into ways that management benefits our woods.
Once known as the Little Sac Woods Urban Forest, portions of the area were first acquired by the Conservation Department in 1979, and subsequent parcels were added to the area throughout the early 1980s. The Department originally established this area as a “metro forest,” a destination just northwest of Springfield that offered a look into the natural beauty of forests.
Since its inception, Little Sac Woods has served as an educational and demonstration area for an array of forest management practices such as timber stand improvement and regeneration harvests. Studies examining the effects of forest pests and tree growth have also been conducted there. The area has been used to help educate both the public and land managers.
Current management on the area is focused on the reconstruction of several large glade, woodland, and forest natural communities. Knowledge of historic land conditions, soils and topography, habitat indicator species, and natural disturbances such as fire and drought, combined with how wildlife uses these natural communities, guides reconstruction efforts. Wildlife habitat and overall plant diversity is maintained by thinning undesirable woody plants and conducting prescribed burns. Reconstructing glades and woodlands in this manner promotes healthier plant communities that can stand up to environmental stressors such as drought.
Roughly 7 miles of hiking trails amble through the area, passing a bluff-top glade overlooking the Little Sac River, areas of woodland restoration, and forested units. Access to the river provides limited fishing opportunities, and primitive camping is allowed throughout the area by obtaining a special use permit. Much of the forest management on the area promotes small game habitat, leading to excellent hunting opportunities for squirrels and rabbits. Little Sac Woods also supports a healthy turkey population.
Looking into the future, much of the area’s management will focus on controlling exotic invasive species, which threaten the survival of our native plants. Invasive plants such as sericea lespedeza, Japanese honeysuckle, and wintercreeper are currently managed on the area.
Little Sac Woods Conservation Area is located approximately 9 miles northwest of Springfield on Farm Road 115, off Highway 13 and Route BB.
—Brice Kelso, area manager Little Sac Woods Conservation Area
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