Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative Grant Awarded for Partners Shortleaf Pine Restoration Project
Midwest Region, January 21, 2011
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Gary Romine (left), brother-in-law (right), and Leroy Romine (driving tractor) planting a shortleaf pine tree. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo)
Gary Romine (left), brother-in-law (right), and Leroy Romine (driving tractor) planting a shortleaf pine tree. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service photo) - Photo Credit: n/a

Deep in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks, Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologist Liisa Niva, with the Missouri Ecological Services Field Office, is working with Don Foerster, Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) private lands conservationist, to restore shortleaf pine-oak woodlands on Gary Romine’s property. The Romine family had been camping and hunting on the property for years, as the timber company that previously owned it had granted them access.  The Romine’s were dismayed when the company high-grade harvested the property while in the midst of discussions to purchase the acreage.  Due to fire suppression and past logging practices, the 640-acre property was primarily mixed-hardwood forest with little pine present, typical of forests in the area. Gary and his family have a strong land ethic, which is exemplified by his father, Leroy Romine, previously the president of the Mingo NWR Friends group, and were more than willing to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and MDC to restore his property to the historic pine-oak woodland community. The Romine’s property is adjacent to the National Park Service’s Ozark National Scenic Riverways and is in close proximity to the Mark Twain National Forest, making it an ideal location to improve the continuity of similar forest habitats on a landscape scale. It is also located within an MDC Conservation Opportunity Area and an Important Bird Area designated by Audubon Missouri, all which identify the property as a high priority for habitat restoration. Prior to European settlement, pine-oak woodlands and savannas were prevalent throughout the Ozark Highlands and Boston Mountains of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Although not always a dominant component of these woodland and forest communities, shortleaf pine was present across an estimated six million acres in southern Missouri. The Missouri Ozarks, especially within the Gasconade, Meramec, and Current River Hills, were a mosaic of mixed hardwood forest, pine-oak woodland, glades and prairies in forest openings, and bottomland hardwood forest along riparian corridors. Shortleaf pine woodlands and savannas supported a diverse array of fire-adapted plants and animals, including extirpated species like the brown-headed nuthatch, red-cockaded woodpecker, and cream-flowered tick trefoil. Timber exploitation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and subsequent fire suppression shifted forest composition to second-growth hardwoods and dense oak-pine timber. Pine-oak woodlands are now rare in Missouri, with less than 600,000 acres remaining scattered throughout the Ozarks. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife project will restore 46 acres of historic shortleaf pine-oak woodland through planting root production method (RPM) container trees and bare-root seedlings. Natural regeneration of oaks on an additional 62 acres of hillsides will be achieved by clearcutting damaged growing stock and will assist in preventing shade-tolerant tree species from becoming dominant. Restoration of 108 acres totaled almost $50,000, so it was decided to explore additional avenues for funding, through groups such as the Missouri Bird Conservation Initiative (MoBCI). MoBCI, established in 2003, is a self-described partnership of organizations that are interested in all-bird conservation throughout Missouri. Every year, MoBCI awards competitive grant funding to private and public organizations and individuals that are involved in conserving bird habitat on lands across the state. Because this restoration project will provide habitat for migratory birds such as the whip-poor-will and state-endangered Bachman’s sparrow, Lisa wrote a grant proposal on behalf of Gary Romine for his pine-oak woodland restoration project. MoBCI representatives informed Gary at the end of January 2011 that he had been awarded $20,000 to complete his restoration project. This project demonstrates the strength of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in bringing together various partners, such as MDC and MoBCI, to restore native habitats on privately-owned land for the benefit of our Trust Resources.

Contact Info: Liisa Niva, (573) 234-2132 ext. 179, liisa_niva@fws.gov
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