Rural Missouri - February 2014 - (Page 16)
O U T D O O R S
by Jim McCarty
abin fever's got you down. The couch
bears the distinct impression of
your backside. Your kids suffer from
Nature Deﬁcit Disorder. It's time to
But where do you go when your "Back 40"
is measured in feet? Fortunately, Missouri is
home to thousands of acres of adventure on
public lands open to all. You can lose yourself
in a wilderness area, hunt wild game, search
for rare ﬂora and fauna or camp in comfort
just about anywhere in the state.
Keep in mind that public land is well
marked, with signs showing where the public
use areas begin and end. Anything outside
these areas is privately owned. Venturing onto
private land is trespassing. Never enter private
land without permission.
Enjoy your time on Missouri's public lands,
but be sure you treat them with respect.
Remove your trash, follow regulations and try
your best to leave it the way you found it.
Missouri is home to acres of
adventure on public lands
Most people think of camping or rustic
lodging when it comes to state parks. The system offers more than 2,000 structures, 3,500
campsites and 194 cabins.
However, increasingly the parks are becoming nationally recognized for the nearly 1,000
miles of trails. These trails include opportunities for hikers, backpackers, bicycle riders,
off-road vehicle users and horseback riders.
The system also boasts the 240-mile-long Katy
Trail State Park.
It's never been easier to plan your State Park
experience thanks to an interactive website.
Here you can reserve campsites, browse parks
and historic sites or search for events.
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy has protected more
than 145,000 acres in the state. These areas
include streams, vast forests in the Ozarks and
a sea of prairie grass in north Missouri.
There are 12 ecologically important areas
in Missouri that are protected through The
Nature Conservancy's efforts.
Its crown jewel is the Grand River Grasslands project, which seeks to restore more
than 70,000 acres of tallgrass prairie. This
includes Dunn Ranch near Hatﬁeld, where
you can see bison grazing on the lush grass
and hear prairie chickens booming among
Check the website for ﬁeld trips and other
events held at Nature Conservancy sites.
Mark Twain National Forest
With more than 1.5 million acres of land,
Missouri's only national forest has plenty to
offer. Most of this rugged and scenic landscape is in southern Missouri, but there's also
a small piece in central Missouri.
The forest boundary includes 19 natural
areas that protect unique natural communities. It also boasts seven wilderness areas,
The rugged Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail is just one of many
Ozark National Scenic Riverways
deﬁned as places "where man himself is a visi- places where you can enjoy public land in Missouri.
tor who does not remain."
The National Forest Service also manages
the Eleven Point River, which is designated a "wild
tive centers. Each offers its own list of what you can
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways is the ﬁrst
and scenic river." There are 14 ﬂoatable streams
do. In addition, the department manages many pubnational park formed to protect a river system, in
within the Mark Twain National Forest, along with
lic lakes for small towns across the state.
this case the Current and Jacks Fork. Besides these
16 lakes ranging in size from 3 acres to 440 acres.
two famous rivers, the park is home to hundreds of
It would be impossible to list all of the outdoor
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges
freshwater springs, caves, trails and historic sites.
opportunities the Mark Twain National Forest offers.
www.fws.gov (search for Missouri refuges)
While most people enjoy this park system for its
However, some of the most popular are the recreclear, fast-ﬂowing waters, there's more here than
ation areas such as Logger's Lake near Bunker.
Abundant wildlife and world-class recreation awaits
ﬂoating. The Riverways offers seven developed
Hunting is another pursuit allowed here. In fact,
you on wildlife refuges managed by the U.S. Fish &
campgrounds, along with several less-developed
the national forest is one of the ﬁnest places in MisWildlife Service. Missouri is home to eight national
backcountry campgrounds located along the rivers.
souri to hunt for those who don't own land.
wildlife refuges, ranging from the 10,000-acre Swan
Big Spring near Van Buren - one of the largest
Lake Wildlife Refuge at Sumner to the 21,000-acre
springs in the world - is the centerpiece of a park
Missouri Department of Conservation
Mingo National Wildlife Refuge at Puxico, which
that also offers ﬁne dining in a stone lodge in sea573-751-4115
includes Missouri's largest remaining swamp.
son. Tours of the working Alley Mill are one highwww.mdc.mo.gov
Wildlife is the focus for these refuges, and migratlight of this area near Eminence.
ing birds outnumber human visitors here by the
Please note that the federal budget sequester has
There are more than 1,000 areas owned or managed
forced many closings on this national park. Check
by the Missouri Department of Conservation. It can
While most Missourians know about the larger
the website or call for the latest info on Ozark
be a daunting task to discover all that the departrefuges, the USFWS also plays a role in conserving
National Scenic Riverways facilities and events.
ment has to offer.
the nation's ﬁsheries from its Neosho National Fish
However, an online Conservation Area Atlas that
Hatchery in southwest Missouri. The nation's oldest
The Ozark Trail
can be found on the department's excellent website
operating federal hatchery has raised more than 130
will help you sort it out. Look for "Places to Go"
different species of ﬁsh over the years. Fishing is not
under the Discover Nature tab on the homepage.
allowed here, but it is at most of the other areas.
MDC's mission is to protect and manage MisThe Ozark Trail's 390 miles cross some of the best
souri's ﬁsh, forest and wildlife resources. Its public
Missouri State Parks
scenery in Missouri An intuitive website will help
lands reﬂect that mission with a huge assortment of
you plan trips ranging from just a few miles to more
area types. For example, the department manages
than 140 miles long. Some sections are multi-use
boat access ramps. State forests ensure there are trees
trails open to mountain bikes or horses.
for future generations.
Missouri's state park system contains 87 state
High-quality maps of most sections are now availNatural areas showcase Missouri's original
parks and historic sites. Within more than 200,000
able and can be ordered from the trail's website. You
landscape while protecting what is often the best
acres available to the public, the state park system
also can ﬁnd updates on trail conditions, informaremaining geologic features or rare plants and aniincludes homes of famous Missourians, Civil War
tion on trail-building events and trip reports on the
mals. There are MDC managed shooting ranges, ﬁsh
battleﬁelds and cultural landmarks such as mills and
forum at www.ozarktrail.com.
hatcheries, wildlife management areas and interprecovered bridges.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - February 2014
Rural Missouri - February 2014
Ministering to motorists
A mid-winter read
Fighting more than fires
Out of the Way Eats
Metal & music
Hearth and Home
The Missouri Dinosaur
Rural Missouri - February 2014