Diverse is the best word to describe this large area, ranging from Meramec River bottoms to glade and woodland hillsides, to sprawling oak-hickory forest dotted with pine and beautiful grasslands.
Woodson K. Woods is a 5,661-acre area located in Phelps and Crawford counties only a few minutes southeast of St. James. Most of the area was purchased in 1971, thanks to a generous donation from the James H. Woods Foundation and Land and Water Conservation Funds. The area features the 417-acre Spring’s End Forest Natural Area that includes the largest contiguous block of intact bottomland forest remaining on the Meramec River. The area also boasts some o the best archery deer hunting available on public land in the state, some spectacular scenery, and the Highway 8 Access to the Meramec River.
Management of the area encompasses a wide variety of practices and habitat types. Upland forest is found on large portions of the property and is managed using thinning and occasional prescribed burns to maintain a healthy forest and provide maximum benefit to wildlife. Bottomland forest found within the boundaries of the Spring’s End Forest Natural Area is monitored closely for invasive species, but is largely left as old-growth forest for its watershed function and unique wildlife habitat. This forest is home to two great blue heron rookeries, bald eagles, cerulean warblers, and a host of aquatic species of concern.
Old fields are maintained across the property to create a home for healthy populations of rabbits and songbirds. Two large warm-season grass fields provide habitat for upland game like quail and gorgeous vistas of wildflowers through most of the summer and deep ambers of dormant grasses in the fall and winter. Green-browse plots and crop fields are also maintained as forage for a variety of wildlife.
The area’s variety of ecotypes provides food and shelter for many kinds of fish and wildlife and a range of activities for visitors. Popular activities include floating the 4.5 miles of Meramec River that cut through the area on a canoe or kayak, fishing in the Red Ribbon Trout Management section of the Meramec River, and smallmouth bass fishing in the Dry Fork River. There are also 50 miles of primitive maintenance roads for nature watching, hunting small game, turkey hunting, and archery deer hunting. —Mike Fleischhauer, area manager
Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
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