This large IBA was historically mostly timbered in oak and oak-pine forest and woodland uplands and lowland forests (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). Oak savanna and woodlands occurred in the plateau uplands to the southwest. Glades were interspersed throughout the IBA. Today, the IBA is still heavily timbered, but much is second growth forest, less pine occurs, and some areas cleared for pasture. The eastern peninsula of the IBA has been extensively mined. Some glades and savanna still occur.
The region is highly dissected by streams and rivers (e.g., Meramec River, and Huzzah and Courtois Creeks).
Twenty-eight percent of the IBA is dedicated conservation land, including:
Blue Springs Creek Conservation Area (CA), Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), 600 acres, 243 ha;
Buford Mountain CA (MDC), 3,838 acres, 1,554 ha;
Crooked Creek CA (MDC), 331 acres, 134 ha;
Hughes Mountain CA (MDC), 459 acres, 186 ha;
Huzzah CA (MDC), 6,007 acres, 2,432 ha;
Little Indian Creek CA (MDC), 3,888 acres, 1,574 ha;
Indian Trail CA (MDC), 13,550 acres, 5,486 ha;
Mark Twain National Forest, Salem-Potosi District, US Forest Service (USFS), 208,493 acres, 84,410 ha;
Meramec CA (MDC), 4,088 acres, 1,655 ha;
Meramec State Park (SP), Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), 6,266 acres, 2,537 ha;
Meramec Springs Trout Park (MDC), 1,561 acres, 632 ha;
Onondaga Cave SP (MDNR), 973 acres, 394 ha;
Onyx Cave CA (MDC), 37 acres, 15 ha;
Pea Ridge CA (MDC), 6,857 acres, 2,776 ha;
St. Joe SP (MDNR), 5,417 acres, 2,193 ha;
Woods Memorial CA (MDC), 5,738 acres, 2,323 ha;
and Zahorsky Woods, The Nature Conservancy (TNC); 69 acres, 28 ha.

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Ornithological Summary

There are at least two nest records of Bald Eagles nesting along the length of the Meramec River. Several Cerulean Warblers occur during their breeding season in bottomland forest along the Meramec and its tributaries. Bell?s Vireo can be found during the nesting season at Onondaga Cave SP, many forest species (e.g., Hooded, Prothonotary, and Worm-eating Warblers) can be found at Meramec SP, as well as Willow Flycatchers in the National Forest where willow stands occur (Palmer and Palmer 2001). The Meramec River Watershed IBA 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).

Conservation Issues

The Meramec River Watershed IBA overlaps MDC?s (2005) Middle Meramec Conservation Opportunity Area, where the agency has identified conservation challenges of maintaining large blocks of forest for forest interior birds. Development pressure from the southwestern portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area is a threat to forest extent and continuity. Stand thinning and prescribed burning are included in USFS?s management plan for the Mark Twain National Forest in the IBA.

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