Historically, the St. Francis River Watershed IBA supported mixed oak-pine forest and woodland, with some glade openings (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). Large landscapes of forest and woodland?although much being second-growth?are still present today, although the shortleaf pine and glade components are diminished.
Thirty-five percent of the IBA is publicly-owned conservation land, encompassing 22 management units. These include:
Bismark Conservation Area (CA),
issouri Department of Conservation (MDC), 116 acres, 47 ha;
Knob Lick Towersite (MDC), 79 acres, 32 ha;
Buford Mtn. CA (MDC), 694 acres, 281 ha;
Cedar Mtn. (MDC), 119 acres, 48 ha;
Buck Mtn. CA (MDC), 205 acres, 83 ha;
Ketcherside Mtn. CA (MDC), 3,537 acres, 1,432 ha;
Millstream Gardens CA (MDC), 677 acres, 274 ha;
Riverside CA (MDC), 173 acres, 70 ha;
Graves Mtn. CA (MDC), 3,174 acres, 1,285 ha;
Coldwater CA (MDC), 4,574 acres, 1,852 ha;
Wappapello Reservoir CA (MDC), 2,018 acres, 817 ha;
Flatwoods CA (MDC), 944 acres, 382 ha;
Yokum School CA (MDC), 161 acres, 65 ha;
University Forest CA (MDC), 7,180 acres, 2,907 ha
St. Joe SP (partly) (MDNR); 2,428 acres, 983 ha;
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park (SP) (partly), Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), 250 acres, 101 ha;
Sam A. Baker SP (MDNR), 5,324 acres, 2,155 ha;
Lake Wappapello SP (MDNR), 1,854 acres, 751 ha;
Wappapello Training Site, Missouri National Guard (MONG), 2,200 acres, 891 ha;
Wappapello Reservoir, US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), 45,000 acres, 8,219 ha;
Mark Twain National Forest, Fredericktown District (partly), US Forest Service (USFS), 65,385 acres, 26,472 ha;
and Mark Twain National Forest, Poplar Bluff District (partly) (USFS); 126,178 acres, 51,084 ha.
Two Bald Eagle pairs have nesting along Wappapello Reservoir in recent years. American Bitterns have been observed during safe breeding dates in marshy bottomland at Sam A. Baker SP. Swainson?s Warblers have been observed at Sam A. Baker SP and along the St. Francis River north of Wappapello Reservoir (USACE and MDC managed lands). Cerulean Warblers have been heard on Wappapello Reservoir USACE land and Taum Sauk Mountain SP. Several Bachman?s Sparrows were seen recently in power line cuts and old fields in the northwestern and central portions of the IBA, respectively. Many shorebirds use the exposed mudflats when Wappapello Reservoir is drawn down during early spring. Species of neotropical migratory songbirds use both the forest interior (e.g., Ovenbird and Wood Thrush) and early successional habitats (e.g., Blue-winged and Prairie Warblers) present within this IBA. Pine Warbler may also be seen in association with pines in lands around Lake Wappapello (Palmer and Palmer 2001). The St. Francis 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).
The St. Francis River Watershed IBA overlaps MDC?s (2005) St. Francois Knobs Conservation Opportunity Area, where the agency has identified conservation challenges of maintaining igneous glade and woodland communities with prescribed fire. Pine woodland restoration at St. Joe SP and other potential sites may provide future habitat for pine woodlandbirds. Large blocks of forest interior habitat occurred in the area and should be retained for forest interior birds amidst other management activities.