April 16, 2018

Land Acquisition to Improve Recreational Access and Parking at Piney Creek Wilderness Area

BARRY COUNTY, Mo. — The Conservation Fund and the U.S. Forest Service today announced the purchase and protection of 229 acres near Shell Knob that will provide enhanced public access to the Piney Creek Wilderness. With funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the conserved land along County Road 2190 offers an ideal site for a new, safer trailhead and added parking for hikers, horseback riders, hunters, photographers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Located within Mark Twain National Forest, this addition features a ridge-top field that provides one of the highest elevations in the area—1,382 feet—overlooking a wide portion of the southeast Wilderness and views of nearby Table Rock Lake. Bordered on two sides by the Piney Creek Wilderness, the acquisition secures the only remaining unprotected land with the South Piney Creek watershed, helping ensure lasting water quality protection for the creek as it flows to Table Rock Lake. Wildlife habitats for a variety of federally endangered, threatened and sensitive species, including the gray bat, northern long-eared bat, Eastern small-footed bat, shaved sedge and the bald eagle, have also been protected.

“The Mark Twain National Forest is grateful for our continued successful partnership with The Conservation Fund over the years,” said Mark Twain National Forest Land and Special Use Program Manager, Janet Fraley. “This latest project makes economic and environmental sense for the neighboring communities around Shell Knob. We work hard to enhance and protect existing special areas in the forest for the benefit of the public. This project is a prime example.”

The Conservation Fund purchased the land in June 2017 and held it until federal funding through the LWCF became available, enabling the recent transfer to the U.S. Forest Service. Additional funding was provided by the Missouri-based L-A-D Foundation.

“With tourism a major source of revenue and jobs in the area, the newly protected land will improve the experience for visitors and local residents looking to enjoy the outdoors,” said Clint Miller, Midwest Project Director with The Conservation Fund. “We’re grateful to the U.S. Forest Service for their partnership in making this conservation effort a success, and we also thank Missouri’s U.S. Congressional delegation for their continued support of LWCF, which is so critical to conservation in Missouri and across the country.”

LWCF is a bipartisan, federal program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties—not taxpayer dollars—to acquire critical lands and protect our country’s best natural resources for more than 50 years. The project is specifically utilizing a portion of the U.S. Forest Service’s Recreational Access funding through LWCF, which was provided by the U.S. Congress’s FY2017 omnibus spending bill for projects that meet key recreation needs. LWCF is annually funded by the U.S. Congress, including Missouri’s U.S. Congressional delegation that represents the Piney Creek Wilderness Area: U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and U.S. Representative Billy Long. As America's most important conservation and recreation program, the LWCF will expire on September 30 unless Congress acts to reauthorize.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect nearly 8 million acres of land, including more than 11,000 acres in Missouri.

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org