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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Restoring the Missouri Ozarks One Piece at a Time

Region 3, September 20, 2013
Bluffs along the Big River of southeast Missouri in the autumn.  The Big River displays characteristics typical of many Ozark streams including an abundance of seeps, springs, caves, woodland and forest features that provide unique natural resource services.  The southeast Missouri Ozarks are home to more than 200 endemic species.
Bluffs along the Big River of southeast Missouri in the autumn. The Big River displays characteristics typical of many Ozark streams including an abundance of seeps, springs, caves, woodland and forest features that provide unique natural resource services. The southeast Missouri Ozarks are home to more than 200 endemic species. - Photo Credit: n/a

 

The trustees for Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration in Missouri have developed and released a Draft Southeast Missouri Ozarks Regional Restoration Plan to address natural resources injured by the release of hazardous substances. The Trustees for natural resources in southeast Missouri include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The trustees have initiated natural resource damage assessments at different sites throughout the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District and have successfully recovered damages to use for restoring impacted natural resources and their services. The trustees authored this Southeast Missouri Ozarks Regional Restoration Plan to describe the restoration objectives and processes for programming existing restoration funds as well as future recoveries of restoration funds derived from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process.

The purpose of this document is twofold: (1) serve as an environmental assessment and (2) as a regional restoration plan. The environmental assessment is designed to consider alternatives which will restore, rehabilitate, replace, and/or acquire the equivalent of natural resources and services potentially injured by the release of hazardous substances into the Southeast Missouri Ozarks. Additionally, this plan facilitates public involvement in the restoration plan and complies with environmental decision-making requirements. Development of the plan was initiated by the Trustee Council for Natural Resource Damage Assessment cases occurring in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District.

The district remains the largest lead production area in the United States, and for parts of its history, the leader world-wide. The area has several geographically and temporally distinct areas of mining. Directly south of St. Louis, mining at the Big River Mine Tailings site dates from the 19th century through the 1970s. The Madison County Mine Site is located 15 to 30 miles south of the Big River Mine Tailings site and is home to some of the oldest mining operations in Missouri, dating to approximately 1740. Approximately 50 miles to the west, mining in the Viburnum Trend began in the 1950s and continues today as the largest producer of lead in the country. The legacy of heavy-metal mining is large-scale ecological injury to thousands of acres of terrestrial habitat and hundreds of miles of streams. Large portions of the district are National Priority List Superfund Sites due to heavy metal contamination. Other sites such as the Viburnum Trend are not covered by this designation, but still cause widespread injury to natural resources and the services they provide.

The preferred alternative will allow the Trustees both the flexibility to work with the public to identify and select appropriate compensatory and primary restoration projects and the precision to locate and determine restoration projects that adequately compensate the public for the loss of natural resources and services in the Southeast Missouri Ozarks.

Contact Info: John Weber, 573-234-2132 x177, John_S_Weber@fws.gov