Important Bird Areas

Current / Jack's Fork Watershed-45

Missouri

Having the largest spatial extent in the Missouri IBA program, the Current / Jack's Fork Watershed was historically composed of extensive pine-oak and oak-pine forests and woodlands (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). Oak and oak-pine forest dominated the hilly breaks along the Current and Jack?s Fork Rivers. Pine woodlands predominated higher, flatter terrain at the southern end of the watershed in Ripley County. Glades occupied ?knobs? of ridge tops, most prominently in far eastern Shannon County. Today, much native vegetation regenerated after the logging boom of the early twentieth century, with extensive second-growth oak-pine forest dominating the landscape (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). Although pines and mature pine woodlands have been diminished, the watershed is at the heart of the largest contiguous block of forest in the lower Midwest.
Forty-three percent of the IBA is publicly-owned conservation land (See "Ownership").

{link:For IBA map, click here.|http://www.audubon.org/bird/iba/usibac/2008_P6/MO2590m_CurrentJacks08.pdf}

Ornithological Summary

Cerulean and Swainson?s Warblers are numerous along the Current and Jack?s Fork Rivers. Bald Eagles have nested at Montauk SP. The Current / Jack's Fork Watershed is included in the extensive contiguous forest of the Ozark Highlands, which provides suitable nesting habitat for forest-interior songbirds (Robinson et al 1995), possibly facilitating source populations (Donovan et al. 1995b). Other forest birds in the IBA include Wood Thrush and Worm-eating Warbler (Palmer and Palmer 2001). Shannon County had the last Missouri recorded for Red-cockaded Woodpecker in 1946 prior to pine woodland harvest (Robbins and Easterla 1992).

Conservation Issues

The Current / Jack's Fork Watershed IBA overlaps MDC?s (2005) Current River Hills and St. Francois Knobs Conservation Opportunity Area, where the agency has identified conservation challenges of maintaining large blocks of forest for forest interior birds while also managing igneous glade and woodland communities with prescribed fire. Cane restoration along the Current River is also a conservation strategy for the Current River Hills COA. USFS?s management plan for the Mark Twain National Forest in the IBA includes pine woodland restoration through prescribed burning and stand thinning. This includes the 10,831-acre ?Pineknot? pine woodland restoration project in southwestern Carter County, where partners with USFS include TNC, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Bat Conservation International, MDC, and Ozark National Scenic Riverways (USNPS).