• LOCATION — Compton Hollow Conservation Area is located in Webster County, Mo., between Rogersville and Marshfield. The area can be reached by taking exit 96 on I-44 and traveling south on State Highway B for 5 miles to Compton Hollow Road.
• HISTORY — The conservation area is 840 acres of oak-hickory forest that is managed for wildlife habitat, timber production, forest health, and outdoor recreation. The area consists of two university tracts that were combined with land purchased from a private landowner in the mid-1980s.
Additional purchases were made later that increased the size to the current 840 acres. Various management activities can be seen including timber stand improvement, prescribed burning, invasive species management, and timber harvesting.
Compton Hollow CA contains two distinct natural features — several small dolomite glades and a dry-mesic chert woodland. The forested areas are managed by dividing the forest into stands based on characteristics such as topography, tree species, and soil type.
A forest inventory is conducted on each stand to determine the density of the trees and the tree species present. A forest management plan is then written for each stand based on the inventory data and to reach desired management objectives.
The forest is managed on an uneven-aged basis which creates several stands that are in different stages of growth. There are stands that have been thinned, selectively harvested, or a combination of both. This creates a variety of forest habitats that are beneficial to wildlife at different times of the year.
These features are protected and managed to maintain or increase their natural qualities. There are several old fields that make up around 75 acres of the property. These fields are burned on a two- to three-year schedule to reduce the woody competition and encourage native grasses and forbs. The fields are managed for native vegetation to provide nesting cover and small game habitat.
The area also has several small fishless ponds that were created for wildlife watering holes. There is an unmanned archery range located on the south side of the property. It can be accessed from the east parking lot on Compton Hollow Road. There are six shooting stations with some stations having multiple targets.
• FISHING AND HUNTING — There are no fishing opportunities on this area. Hunting is open to statewide regulations, except deer hunting which is subject to annual changes. There is a special use hunting area on the north side of the area for hunters with medical exemptions. It is located near the parking lot off of Conservation Lane and the boundary is marked with orange paint. The location is also shown on the area brochure and Special Use Permits can be obtained from the Southwest Regional Office (417-895-6880).
The forest management practices create many different habitat types that deer, turkeys, and other wildlife utilize. In the fall the mixed oak forest provides an abundance of acorns providing an important food source for wildlife. The old field areas and the forested areas that have been thinned provide additional food sources in years with low acorn production.
Small game hunting is very popular at Compton Hollow CA. The oak-hickory forest supports a very good squirrel population and the old fields offer a limited opportunity for rabbit hunting. The hunting pressure can be high at times due to the close proximity to the city of Springfield and other metropolitan areas.
• CAMPING AND HIKING — Primitive camping is allowed. Groups of 10 or more campers need a special use permit issued by the area manager. Contact the Southwest Regional Office at 417) 895-6880 to obtain this permit. There are no designated campsites on this area.
There are 5.5 miles of multi-use trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. A portion of the trails follow service roads while the rest are a single path wide enough for one person.
The trails travel throughout most of the property and cross several areas that are steep, rocky, or muddy depending on the weather. They allow people to see the different types of habitat on the area and are popular during the fall when leaves are changing.
Trails are closed to horseback riding and bicycling during the spring turkey and fall firearms deer seasons.
By Dustin McCleary