Places to Go

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From Missouri Conservationist: March 2018

Southwest Region:  Barclay Conservation Area

By Larry Archer

Waters for recreation and contemplation.

Recreationally speaking, Barclay Conservation Area (CA), located 40 miles south of the Lake of the Ozarks in Dallas County, really punches above its weight.

At 426 acres, this conservation area is something of a lightweight, but, acre for acre, it holds its own against many of MDC’s much larger properties. With more than a mile and a half of Niangua River frontage in a White Ribbon Trout Area, boat ramp, canoe launch, and a prime spot in a National Audubon Society Important Birding Area, Barclay CA has plenty to keep anglers, floaters, birders, and hikers occupied.

The list of those taking advantage of the area’s recreational opportunities extends beyond the traditional to some of nature’s most fun-loving furbearers, according to Steven LaVal, resource forester and Barclay CA’s manager. “It’s not uncommon to see otters
at the boat ramp in the evening,” LaVal said. “There’s a family of otters that lives somewhere right there, so a lot of people see them.” If the Niangua River is all about recreation, then Barclay Spring is all about contemplation. With a daily output of nearly 5 million gallons, the spring’s rushing waters provide those wishing to slow down a natural soundtrack for relaxation and meditation.

“In March, there’ll still be eagles. There’s always some eagles hanging around because it’s close to the river. By then, you might also hear some turkey gobble or hear some quail whistle.”

—Barclay Conservation Area Manager Steven LaVal

What to Look For When You Visit

  • North American river otter
  • Great blue heron
  • Spring peeper
  • Copperhead
  • Turkey vulture
  • Raccoon

What to do When You Visit

  • Bird-Watching Included in the National Audubon Society’s Niangua River Watershed Important Bird Area. The eBird list of birds recorded at Barclay CA is available at
  • Canoeing/Floating Includes both a concrete boat ramp and a gravel bar access canoe launch.
  • Fishing Trout (good — White Ribbon Trout Area, see regulations), bass (good), sunfish (good), and suckers (good).
  • Hiking No designated trails.


  • Deer (good) and turkey (good). Deer and turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey booklets for current regulations.
  • Rabbit (fair).
  • Squirrel (fair).
  • Trapping Special use permit required.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler