«Prier Tract Taum Sauk Mountain State Park Iron County, Missouri Submitted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Revised April 2016 Prier ...»
Natural Resource Restoration Project Proposal for the
Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District
Taum Sauk Mountain State Park
Iron County, Missouri
Submitted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Revised April 2016
Prier Restoration Project Proposal
Revised April 2016
Introduction and Background
The federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
authorizes claims for “damages for injury to, destruction of, or loss of natural resources” as a result of the release of a hazardous substance. 42 U.S.C § 9607(a)(4)(C). Any compensation received as a result of resolving a claim for natural resource damages must be used for “the restoration, rehabilitation, or replacement or acquisition of the equivalent of” any lost natural resources or their services. 42 U.S.C. § 9611(i). This CERCLA process is referred to as natural resource damage assessment and restoration (NRDAR), the goal of which is to compensate the public for the loss of resources and their services resulting from a release of a hazardous substance.
Missouri Trustees and the Trustee Council CERCLA, and its implementing regulations, designated federal and state authorities to act on behalf of the public as trustees for natural resources, including supporting ecosystems, belonging to, managed by, controlled by, or appertaining to such state, or by the United States.
42 U.S.C. § 9607(f); 40 C.F.R. § 600 and § 300.605. Under this authority, the Governor of the State of Missouri has appointed the director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) as the designated state trustee. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is acting as the trustee on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Interior in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District (collectively “Trustees”). The Trustees formed a Trustee Council by a Memorandum of Understanding. The Trustee Council coordinates activities for both assessing injuries to natural resources and their services and the restoration, replacement, rehabilitation of acquisition of the equivalent of the lost natural resources and their services upon receipt of compensation from potentially responsible parties.
Restoration Plan In 2009, the Trustees successfully resolved a claim for natural resource damages against the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) resulting in the recovery of over $8 million for the Viburnum Trend portion of the SEMOLMD. Pursuant to CERCLA, the Trustees developed the Southeast Missouri Ozarks Regional Restoration Plan (SEMORRP) which provides a process framework that governs the approach for restoration project identification, evaluation, selection and implementation. 42 U.S.C. § 9611(i): the SEMORRP is available at http://dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/sfund/docs/nrd-final-semorrp.pdf. As part ofthe restoration process, an agency member of the Trustee Council may submit proposal(s) for restoration projects to be evaluated by the larger Trustee Council in accordance with the factors discussed in the SEMORRP.
Project Proposal In its role as a Trustee, MDNR submits the following restoration project proposal to the Missouri Trustee Council. The proposed restoration action is to purchase the Prier property (198 acres) using NRDAR funds recovered from ASARCO as means to acquire the equivalent of natural resources and their services lost as a result of releases of hazardous substances at the Prier Restoration Project Proposal Revised April 2016 Glover Smelter Site. MDNR proposes holding title to the property pursuant to its statutory authority to accept and acquire lands; §253.040RSMO. If approved by the Trustees, the purchase and restoration would be funded by funds received from the ASARCO settlement.
MDNR’s ownership of surrounding lands, as well as the importance of current ecological character of this property, supports this acquisition. Its management goals and objectives for this property are fully supportive of the goals of NRDAR providing a compelling case for acquisition.
Natural History Assessment Based on several site visits and GIS data
The 198-acre Prier property (See Figure 1) is a partial inholding, but mostly adjacent to the boundary of Taum Sauk Mountain State Park (5,348 Acres) and within seven miles of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. The property is primarily wooded with pockets of igneous glades. The property also hosts a few small open pasture regions in addition to a small Ozark stream.
The property is primarily underlain with igneous bedrock which is similar to the majority of the region surrounding the property. The soils derived from these rocks are generally heavy clay soils with a stronger acidity relative to those derived of sedimentary material. A small stream bisects the southeast portion of the property, originating on Taum Sauk Mountain in Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and flowing through Wallace Hollow before emptying into the larger Stouts Creek to the north. The creek is of good quality and has maintained its riparian corridor.
A few small springs and seep features are also Prier Property - 198 Acres encountered in an open pasture on the southeast portion of the property.
Quality and Character:
The property is a contrast of ecological functioning, ranging from zones that are recovering from extensive logging over a decade ago, and which would benefit from more intensive Figure 1: Aerial View of Proposed Acquisition (In Purple Outline.) restoration activities, to zones that exhibit very high quality igneous glades and dry-igneous woodland natural communities. Figure 2: Aerial View of Proposed Acquisition (In Purple Outline.)
Prier Restoration Project ProposalRevised April 2016
The portions of the property that were logged have left many of the trees to re-sprout with dense stands of 2-5’’ diameter trees. Logging slash is minimal and has been removed or broken down through decay over the years. The soil integrity in the logged zones is acceptable showing minimal signs of damage from skidding activities. The areas that have been logged show great potential for restoration and recovery given the planned application of stewardship activities such as ecological thinning and prescribed fire. Additionally the logging has produced abundant shortleaf pine regeneration which could be managed carefully to restore the historic shortleaf pine component of the woodlands.
The igneous glades and woodlands that escaped logging are of spectacular quality (See Photo 1). All but one of the glades host a rich mosaic of prairie-affinity flora and show potential for hosting the federally threatened Mead’s milkweed. The dry igneous woodlands that escaped logging host a component of shortleaf pine and typical woodland understory species such as lowbush blueberry, dittany, and little bluestem.
Photo 1: High quality igneous glade band on the property. This glade band extends on to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. The glade may host the federally threatened Mead’s milkweed. The ridge in the background contains the road leading to the entrance of the high point of Taum Sauk Mountain State Park.
Prier Restoration Project ProposalRevised April 2016
Conservation Value/Restoration of Ecological Resources: The property has a high potential for restoration given the high quality of the igneous glades and woodlands that were not logged.
The areas that have been logged show great potential for restoration given that these zones are minimally damaged and are anticipated to respond rapidly to restoration efforts.
With appropriate management and restoration efforts, the communities that include dry igneous woodlands, dry-mesic igneous woodlands, and igneous glades are anticipated to host a variety of flora including little bluestem, and poverty oats grass as well as tree species such as white oak and some shortleaf pine.
The glade band on the western portion of the property, which extends on to state park property, is of very high quality with a rich assortment of flora including Indian grass, blazing star, prairie dropseed and big bluestem.
Over 70 species of woodland birds have been documented within the adjacent Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, where igneous glades together with the woodlands provide a diversity of habitats for lichens, forbs, grasses and trees with little encroachment of exotic species. These kinds of resources extend onto the Prier tract. Purchase of this property would provide access from the north into this portion of the park, enabling restoration for glades on this property as well as the larger bands on state park property. In addition to glade restoration, this access point would provide opportunity for Mead’s milkweed surveys, woodland restoration, and feral hog eradication. Located on the north slope of Taum Sauk Mountain (Missouri’s highest point), this property will provide protection of the viewsheds from the scenic overlook located upslope within the park.
The property is contiguous to the 6,900-acre St. Francois Mountains Natural Area, which spans portions of Taum Sauk Mountain State Park and Ketcherside Conservation Area. Missouri Natural Areas are designated by a state and federal interagency committee to represent and preserve a selection of the best remaining examples of Missouri’s native biologic communities and geologic sites. The glades and un-logged portions of the igneous woodlands on the Prier Property are of the same type and quality as those same community types which are principle features of the St. Francois Mountain Natural Area. With restoration to the logged portions, these areas could become additions to the Natural Area.
Missouri’s Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy identified Conservation Opportunity Areas (COA’s) across the state. Through a collaborative process the Missouri Conservation Department established these as the best places to concentrate group effort for conserving native wildlife and their habitats. The St. Francois Knobs COA is one such area, and the Prier Tract lies within its geography. Igneous glades, forests, woodlands, fens and creeks are the primary COA habitat features. Conservation strategies include restoring natural processes and habitats by promoting prescribed fire and timber stand thinning, converting non-native grasslands to restored natural communities, and improving water quality and aquatic habitats. With a good Prier Restoration Project Proposal Revised April 2016
Benefit to federal/state listed species;
Missouri Species of Concern: No intense surveys of the site have been conducted for rare or threatened species such as federally endangered Indiana bats or threatened Mead’s milkweed. The igneous glades on the site likely harbor the federally threatened Mead’s milkweed (Photo 3), a perennial forb that is documented from other glades on Taum Sauk Mountain. Acquisition of this property by MDNR would serve to inventory, restore, preserve, promote and monitor native flora and fauna loyal to high quality igneous communities on the site. In the mid-1990s, an element of occurrence record for an Eastern collared lizard on an adjacent igneous glade was submitted to the Natural Heritage Database; Eastern collared lizards are listed as a Species of Conservation Concern in Missouri Photo 3: Mead’s Milkweed (Asclepias meadii) due to degradation of glade-woodland complexes in the Ozarks.
Prier Restoration Project Proposal Revised April 2016
Given the intact nature of the site and high restoration potential of the pine woodlands, active management including prescribed fire and selective thinning will support biodiversity and enhance floral and faunal populations that may be suppressed by the lack of regularly occurring fires that were once common in the Ozarks. Elements of native diversity including long-lived perennial forbs, native shortleaf pine stands, and a rich suite of woodland birds including Wild Turkey and Red-headed Woodpeckers exist on the site and will be enhanced through the reintroduction of natural disturbance factors. The property will be included in an ecosystembased restoration program to promote biodiversity across all facets of the existing natural communities and to restore integrity to areas that have been degraded by logging practices.
Stouts Creek and Taum Sauk Mountain are in the upper watershed of the St. Francis River where 23 fish species of conservation concern have been documented, with six state endangered. Forty-eight mussel species have been recorded from the upper reaches of the St.
Francis River and an endemic crayfish, known as the St. Francis Crayfish, is a species of conservation concern in Missouri.
Benefit to Migratory Birds: Much research has been conducted throughout the eastern deciduous forest biome assessing the value of early successional habitat created by logging practices to breeding Neotropical migratory birds. Kentucky Warblers, Worm-eating Warblers, Ovenbirds, and Wood Thrush, in particular, are associated with intact forest canopies, but have
Prier Restoration Project Proposal Revised April 2016