Middle Meramec Woodlands for Wildlife

Case Study File: 

The Middle Meramec Conservation Opportunity Area (COA), nestled within the greater Meramec River Basin, is an area which was identified in the 2004 Missouri Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy as a place where a number of Species of Conservation Concern (SOCC) are at risk. The federally listed Indiana and gray bats, and three (soon to be four) federally listed species of freshwater mussels are found in the basin. Beyond providing bat habitat, the forests of the area are also important summer habitat for several neo-tropical migrant song birds.

Multiple factors including likelihood of development, large forest patch size, public drinking water supply, and wildlife habitat resulted in portions of the Meramec Basin also being classified as a Priority Forest Landscape in Missouri’s 2010 Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy (FRAS) process.

Since the majority of forested land within the Meramec Basin is in private ownership, a landscape-scale approach to forest stewardship is an important means of maintaining and restoring habitat critical for the SOCC mentioned above. The forests of the region are generally over-stocked and most are in need of thinning to remain healthy and provide the type of habitat required by several declining bird species. Forested riparian corridors help provide clean water for high quality aquatic habitat, and they also provide foraging areas for bats. Management practices carried out by private landowners in the basin will be a very important means to achieving conservation goals for the area.

The Meramec River Basin is very large, covering approximately 2.5 million acres, and is comprised of 3 8-digit watersheds: the Meramec, the Big, and the Bourbeuse.  The entire basin provides important habitat for the SOCC mentioned above. Where should management activities begin? The Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy helps in this regard by identifying the Middle Meramec COA, a subset of the Meramec watershed. However, the COA covers about 440,000 acres – still too large an area to begin working effectively with landowners in. The project team made up of conservation professionals has identified a 63,000 acre landscape within the COA to address first. The project to be developed in this area has been named Woodlands For Wildlife (WFW).

The Woodlands For Wildlife Project will rely on interested partners that share in the project objectives, participating on a voluntary basis. The project will involve interested government agencies, conservation NGOs, and most importantly private landowners within the project area who wish to participate. Where appropriate, the project will also seek to work with the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, the Crawford County Commission, and local interested businesses.

Download the complete document from the Case Study File link above.

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