Land Use

Historic and Recent Land Use

Historically the area of the Sac River basin was frequented by Osage and Delaware Indians. The first European settlers are speculated to have arrived from Tennessee around 1820. Sparse records make specific information prior to 1832 speculative in nature. The first documented settlers were two brothers from Tennessee that homesteaded in the area southwest of present day Bolivar in 1832-33. The eastern half of the Sac River basin was contained in Polk County as established in 1835 when Greene County was divided. Polk County was given its present day configuration in 1845 as a result of the formation of Cedar, Dade, Dallas, Hickory, St. Clair, and Webster counties.

Diversified farming was the principle occupation in the area through the early 1900s. Livestock production has been a significant agricultural enterprise in the Sac River basin throughout its history. Dairy farming became the primary agricultural enterprise in the basin beginning in the late 1800s and continuing through the 1960s, with peak production occurring in the 1930s. Beginning in the 1950s beef cattle production became the dominant agricultural commodity of the basin. Grain crops were the most frequently cultivated agricultural products in the early 1900s. Grain crops were gradually supplanted by hay and pasture production. Hay and pasture have dominated cultivated crop production since the 1960s for the area. The Sac River basin is one of the top cattle and hay producing areas in Missouri.

About 40% of the Sac River basin area was originally prairie (Schroeder 1982). The remainder was a mix of upland glades, savannahs, and oak-hickory forest.

Landcover in the Sac River basin is predominantly grassland/pasture with forest second in abundance (see Figure Lu01). The majority of grasslands are composed of non-native cool season grasses, primarily fescue. Grazing and hay production are the two most common uses of these expansive grassland areas. Forested areas (primarily deciduous) are more prevalent in the area between Stockton and Truman reservoirs in the northern-most reaches of the basin (Lower Sac River, Turkey Creek, and Brush Creek sub-basins). Row crop agriculture is concentrated in the western section of the basin (Horse-Cedar-Alder creeks sub-basin).

Soil Conservation Projects

Three communities in the basin participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); Everton, Ash Grove, and Republic. Five communities in the basin, identified as having flood prone areas but not participating in the NFIP, are Billings, Humansville, and Stockton (FEMA 2001).

Several efforts to reduce erosion and implement environmentally sound practices in various stream systems have been used in the Sac River Basin. Five Special Area Land Treatment (SALT and EARTH) projects have been/are being implemented in the basin. They are Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) funded projects administered through local soil and water conservation districts. These projects utilize a variety of practices to reduce impacts while maintaining effective use of the resources. The initial SALT projects were initiated to focus primarily on soil erosion. New SALT projects are focusing on improving water quality in watersheds by reducing all forms of agricultural non-point source pollution and are usually designated as AgNPS SALTs. Currently there are two AgNPS SALTs in the Sac River basin on the Upper Little Sac River watershed (Table Lu01 and see Figure Lu02). Proposals have been submitted and funding is pending, or has recently approved, for similar projects at Valley Water Mill in the upper Little Sac River sub-basin in Greene County and in the Bear Creek basin, primarily in Polk County.

The Upper Little Sac River AgNPS Salt is made up of two watersheds totaling 44,954 acres. There are approximately 100 miles of stream, Fulbright Spring, and McDaniel Lake in these watersheds. Land use is estimated to be 59% grassland, 23% woodland, 3% reservoirs, and 14% other uses. Concerns in the watershed include increased urban growth, stormwater runoff, non-point pollutants resulting from poor land management practices, and contamination of groundwater via septic systems, sinkholes, and abandoned wells. Project goals are to protect and maintain the quality of drinking water resources while enhancing economic sustainability for agricultural producers through education and improved land management practices. The AgNPS SALT project is administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and receives support and technical assistance from a variety of agencies and organizations including Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), MDC, University Outreach and Extension, the City of Springfield, Southwest Missouri State University, and Stream Team volunteers.

Public Areas

Most public areas allow activities such as fishing, hunting, birdwatching, nature study, and wildlife photography. Activities such as horseback riding, biking, camping, etc. that can cause environmental disturbance are restricted to certain areas and may be prohibited on some areas. Restrictions vary between public areas. Table Lu02 lists the public areas in the Sac River basin and known permitted activities. Figure Lu03 shows public area locations.

Corps of Engineers 404 Jurisdiction

Most instream and some stream-side projects require 404 permits. Applications for permits should be directed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office. The Sac River basin is under the jurisdiction of the Kansas City District.

Kansas City District USACE
700 Federal Building
Kansas City, MO 64106-2896
(816) 426-5357

Figure Lu01: Landcover in the Sac River basin

Landcover in the Sac River basin.

Read more

Table Lu01: Soil conservation projects in the Sac River basin

Soil conservation projects in the Sac River basin

Read more

Figure Lu02: Sac River basin land treatment areas

Map of Sac River basin land treatment areas

Read more

Table Lu02: Public areas in the Sac River basin

Public areas in the Sac River basin

Read more

Figure Lu03: Public lands of the Sac River basin

Map of public lands of the Sac River basin

Read more

Shortened URL