Places to Go: University Forest Conservation Area

By Larry Archer | January 1, 2024
From Missouri Conservationist: January 2024

University Forest CA

A place for conservation self study

Despite its name and historic connection to higher education, University Forest Conservation Area (CA) has none of the trappings of traditional university life — no quad, Saturday football, or ivy-covered buildings. But even without the trappings, it’s still a place of learning for those who want to know more about Ozark forests.

Located on more than 7,100 acres in Butler and Wayne counties, University Forest CA was endowed to the University of Missouri as part of the Agriculture College Act of 1862, said Clearwater South District Supervisor and University Forest CA Manager Steve Orchard.

“The university took over in the 1900s, and they began managing it for forest research in 1946,” Orchard said.

Some of that post-World War II research continues, he added. 

“The study began in 1949, and it was created to study the effects of repeated burning on trees,” he said. “That was back when we had wildfires all over the state annually.”

The area no longer hosts summer camps of would-be foresters, but its nearly 40 miles of multiuse trails and improved and gravel roads offer plenty of access to the area’s upland oak-hickory and shortleaf pine forests. 

“It’s great terrain for recreation,” Orchard said. “It’s somewhere between gently rolling and Ozark hills.”

Woods at University Forest CA

Also In This Issue

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation – Marcia Hale