The ridge tops of the Big Piney Hills IBA were historically oak savanna and woodland, while watershed slopes were mosaics of oak-pine woodland and forest (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). Today, oak and oak-pine woodland and forests remain (some second growth with diminished pine component), though much upland has been cleared for pasture or have become shortleaf pine plantations. Bottomland forest fragments persist amongst much fescue pasture in the bottoms.
Sixty-nine percent of the IBA is in state or federal land holdings. Fort Leonard Wood (US Department of Defense) comprises 64,630 acres (26,166 ha) of the IBA. Also included are US Forest Service's (USFS) Houston-Rolla District of Mark Twain National Forest (100,697 acres, 40,768 ha), and the Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Eck Conservation Area (CA) (378 acres, 153 ha).

Ornithological Summary

Bald Eagles have nested at Fort Leonard Wood. Several Cerulean Warblers have been observed?and banded?within breeding dates in riparian areas of the IBA. Common Moorhen and Marsh Wren have been found on wetlands at Fort Leonard Wood. The Fort Leonard Wood / Big Piney Forest IBA contains much forest habitat for migratory and breeding forest birds, such as American Redstart, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Pileated Woodpecker.

Conservation Issues

The Big Piney Hills IBA partly overlaps with MDC?s Upper Gasconade River Hills Conservation Opportunity Area (MDC 2005), where, in addition to water quality issues, restoration of forest bird habitat is outlined as a conservation strategy. USFS has plans for tree thinning and prescribed burns (pine fuel reduction) in the Houston-Rolla District of Mark Twain National Forest.

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.