Historically, the North Fork Watershed IBA contained oak-pine and pine woodland, and mixed oak forest (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). Today, some pine and pine-oak woodlands remain, but most have become dense, secondary-growth oak forest, interspersed with areas cleared for pasture on flatter lands.
Eighty percent (102,601, acres, 52,070 ha) of the North Fork Watershed IBA is in publicly owned conservation land, all of which is included in the Willow Springs district of the Mark Twain National Forest (US Forest Service).
Singing male Cerulean Warblers have been observed in bottomland forest along the North Fork River, and likely breed there. Numerous forest interior birds breed and migrate throughout the large forest tracts of the IBA, such as Pileated Woodpecker, Acadian Flycatcher, and Kentucky Warbler. There is potential for pine woodland bird species in the future (e.g., Bachman?s Sparrow, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Red-cockaded woodpecker) given appropriate forest management practices.
Much of the IBA is still a densely forested landscape that is used by many forest interior birds, similar to historical conditions. However, much of the area historically was also covered in pine and pine-oak woodland, which can be restored (e.g., with prescribed fire) as recommended in the Mark Twain National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (noted in MDC 2005). Thus, it is conceivable that extirpated, pine woodland species of concern, like the Brown-headed Nuthatch and the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, might return in the future. MDC (2005) also outlines restoration and increasing connectivity of glade and savanna habitats on the North Fork Conservation Opportunity Area (encompassing the IBA), and the need for private landowner involvement of restoration of all the aforementioned habitats.