From small game hunting to fishing and wildlife viewing, this 4,361- acre area offers a wide array of outdoor activities — all within an hour of Springfield and Joplin.
This Lawrence County area lies between upland prairie and open woodlands/savanna, so a variety of birds and plant species can be found here. Duck hunting is excellent on the area especially during a hard freeze when birds head to the Spring River. A 25-acre wetland on the area also offers hunting opportunities during teal season and migration days.
Anglers can fish on ponds and 2 miles of the Spring River. Managers stock two large ponds periodically with largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish, and visitors can access them by land or by boat.
The area maintains 10.5 miles of multiuse trails, including the Spring River Nature Trail, which leads to a heron rookery on the southwest portion of the area.
Managers maintain the area’s grassland to resemble historical conditions using prescribed burns every two to three years. About 800 of those grassland acres are managed using a firegrazing interaction known as patch-burn-grazing.
Cattle, owned by local ranchers, graze the land to reduce grass dominance, increase wildflower abundance, and provide bare ground-habitat important to a range of grassland-dependent wildlife. The area is a designated quail emphasis area, and bobwhite quail have benefited from the grazing management.
Woodlands are also an important component of the area. Department staff use thinning and burning to create open woodlands that have a rich understory of native grasses and forbs. In fact, visitors can find some of the best examples of open woodlands in the southwest region on the area.
While managing for historical processes is important, much of the area is still managed with food plot plantings of corn, soybeans, sunflower, milo, and green browse. These plots provide food resources for a variety of wildlife, including doves, turkeys, and deer, and provide predictable areas of animal use.
—Frank Loncarich, area manager
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Les Fortenberry
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Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler