This area of the Ozark Highlands was historically characterized by abundant hill-top dolomite glades that graded into savanna and woodland, forested toe-slopes, and bottomland forest containing breaks of giant cane (Nigh and Schroeder 2002). Today, many of the glades are overgrown with eastern red cedar and other invasive woody species in the absence of natural fire disturbance. However, the extent of these glades is substantial. Extensive forests, though somewhat altered, still exist. Giant cane thickets, also once common, have been reduced (e.g., reservoir inundation), but cane breaks of varying sizes can still be found within the bottomland forest along Mincy, Fox, and Bee Creeks.
Thirty-seven percent of the IBA is publicly-owned conservation land. This includes Mark Twain National Forest?s Ava District (US Forest Service [USFS]; 141,447 acres, 57,266 ha). Also included are the following Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC)-managed lands: Bull Shoals Reservoir (MDC/US Army Corps of Engineers [USACE]; 13,427 acres, 5,436 ha), Caney Mountain Conservation Area (CA) (7,968 acres, 3,226 ha), Drury/Mincy CA (6,301 acres, 2,551 ha), and Henning CA (1,534 acres, 621 ha).
Bachman?s Sparrows have been observed in glades with dense herbaceous vegetation in Taney and Ozark counties (Robbins and Easterla 1992, MDC Natural Heritage Database). These glade complexes represent the stronghold for Bachman?s Sparrows in Missouri, which once ranged further northeast throughout the historic shortleaf pine woodlands of the state (Robbins and Easterla 1992). Swainson?s Warblers have been observed in cane stands in bottomland forest around Drury/Mincy CA. Bald Eagles have nested in the past near the confluence of Brushy and Beaver Creeks. Prothonotary and Blue-winged Warblers occur at Drury/Mincy CA, and Prairie Warblers and Painted Buntings can be regularly found at Henning CA (Palmer and Palmer 2001).
The White River Glades and Woodlands IBA overlaps two of MDC?s defined Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA) (MDC 2005): the Tumbling Creek Cave Ecosystem COA and the White River Glades and Woodlands COA. Glade, savanna, and woodland management with prescribed fire figure in the conservation challenges and strategies for these COAs. Prescribed burning is included in USFS?s management project for the Mark Twain National Forest?s Ava District. Encroachment of development from nearby Branson and Table Rock Lake resort districts poses a threat to habitat coverage, continuity, and management.
The White River Glades and Woodlands IBA is a focus area of Audubon Missouri's (AM) IBA efforts. Avian conservation targets include Swainson?s Warbler, Bachman?s Sparrow, Kentucky Warbler, and Prothonotary Warbler. The initial phase of this project will focus on restoration of Giant Cane stands for Swainson?s Warbler and associated species. Opportunities for glade and savanna restoration will also be sought, which may promote breeding by Bachman?s Sparrow. Led by Greater Ozarks Audubon in Springfield in collaboration with AM and MDC staff at Drury/Mincy CA, the project has already received funding to purchase a backhoe attachment to speed the process of cane restoration on MDC land. Greater Ozarks Audubon chapter volunteers will monitor the response to the restoration. AM will continue to explore opportunities to combine work at Drury/Mincy CA with a broader suite of regional activities centered around glade restoration on private land.