Forest's Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project 2012-2022

Approximately 6 million acres of shortleaf pine-oak woodland once covered Missouri’s Ozarks. As European settlers expanded westward, shortleaf pine was harvested to support new settlements. Plants and animals, dependent on pine woodlands, disappeared.

As part of Mark Twain National Forest’s continuing effort to restore Missouri’s natural communities, the USDA Forest Service agency’s 2005 Forest Plan identified portions of the Forest to restore the original shortleaf pine-oak woodlands areas.

In early 2012, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack selected Mark Twain National Forest’s 100,000 acres on Eleven Point and Poplar Bluff ranger districts as one of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects. Under Title IV of Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Congress established the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) to encourage restoration of priority forest landscapes. This collaborative project includes multiple landowners and partners in the restoration of shortleaf pine-oak woodland areas.

Restoration of natural communities can occur on approximately 29% of Mark Twain National Forest’s 1.6 million acres on Mark Twain National Forest’s 2005 Land and Resource Management Plan. The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project is consistent with Mark Twain National Forest’s 2005 Land and Resource Management Plan where natural community restoration emphasizes ecological, economic and social sustainability.

Mark Twain National Forest’s 10-year Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project will focus on using a combination of appropriate silvicultural and prescribed fire treatments to provide the structure, composition and function of natural communities. Prescribed burning applied under specific environmental conditions emulate historical natural fire regimes. Fire is applied taking into consideration fire risk, smoke management, fuel conditions and air quality.

Restoration efforts have been underway in Mark Twain National Forest’s southern portion for the past 10 years using restoration thinning and prescribed fire. The goal is to have an open, park-like shortleaf pine woods with mature trees in a wide range of sizes. There would also be undergrowth and plants that would have been found when Lewis and Clark documented their first travels through Missouri in the mid 1800’s.

Much of the work restoring shortleaf pine woodlands will directly benefit native wildlife and plant species. Birds that once occupied these areas include Bachman’s sparrow, brown-headed nuthatch and red cockaded woodpecker. Plants that should return include bluestem grasses, butterfly weed, toadflax, horsemint, prairie clover, blazing star, goldenrod and many others, all important to establishing and maintaining a healthy, diverse natural community.

This project has the support of dozens of partners and government agencies. Missouri’s restoration is part of a roughly one million acres natural communities restoration targeted for Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma on public lands.

Economic Study Update: An economic study on Mark Twain National Forest’s Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project was recently completed by University of Missouri researchers. The study found that Missouri’s CFLRP project is expected to support an average of 138 jobs per year and generate $34 million in labor income. $44 million in value is expected to be added to the local 9-county economy from 2012 to 2019.