Places to Go

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From Missouri Conservationist: May 2015

Clearwater Lake

More than 12,000 Department managed acres of forest, fields, and lakeside areas surround the 1,630-acre Clearwater Lake and provide diverse hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching opportunities.

In May 1940, deep in the rugged hills of the southeastern Ozarks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction on Clearwater Lake. The spillway was completed in 1942, but World War II delayed the project’s completion until 1948. Originally, the lake was built for the purpose of flood control along the Black River drainage that stretches from Missouri into Arkansas, but shortly after construction, outdoor recreation became a popular attraction.

Clearwater Lake still serves the Corps of Engineers’ purpose of flood control and recreation, while the lands surrounding the lake have been leased to the Missouri Department of Conservation for resource management for the past 28 years.

The 12,659 acres of forests, fields, and water along the Black River in Reynolds and Wayne counties provide habitat for deer, turkey, squirrels, and other small game species. These varied habitats also provide opportunities to hunt, fish, hike, canoe, and watch birds and other wildlife.

Wildflowers, such as bluebells, Dutchman’s breeches, and flowering dogwood, adorn the area in the spring. Hunting is permitted on most of thearea and a mobility-impaired managed deer hunt is held on part of the area each year. Clearwater Lake and the Black River both provide fishing opportunities for crappie, catfish, bass, and other sunfish. The clear Ozark waters also give opportunity to snag or gig suckers. Staff annually plant 50- 100 acres of food plots for supplemental wildlife feeding, and create five to 10 structures in the lake for fish habitat. Much of the forest on Clearwater Lake is composed of oak and hickory species, with some pine. The Department uses prescribed fires, timber stand improvements, and occasional timber harvests to promote more wildlife-friendly species, like shortleaf pine, and white, chinkapin, and scarlet oak, and suppress less desirable species, like black gum, maple, and elm.

Most of the area can be seen from the seat of a canoe floatingthe 15 miles of the Black River that cut through the area, but if you prefer dry land, many highways and county roads wind their way in and out of the area. The Corps of Engineers also provides campsites, hiking trails, swimming beaches, and boat launches on the area. Camping and shelters require a reservation and fee. Stop by the Conservation Department office on Highway 34 in Piedmont for maps and information.

—Mark McLain, area manager

  • Recreation Opportunities: Hunting, fishing, canoeing, mushroom hunting, boating, swimming, hiking, biking, bird watching, camping, wildlife and nature viewing.
  • Unique Features: Clear Ozark streams, mature Ozark forests, boat launches, and campsites with electric, showers, and restrooms (must call the Corps of Engineers for reservations)

For More Information: Call 573-223-4525 or visit

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler