Mark Twain National Forest: Blackwell Ridge Project


Environmental analysis was completed in 2016 and implementation of the project has begun. 

The Blackwell Ridge Project proposes to use an ecosystems management approach to enhance natural vegetative communities. The approach includes vegetation management methods such as timber harvest to mimic historic natural disturbance regimes.

Project Area

The Blackwell Ridge Project area is located on the Poplar Bluff Ranger District of the Mark Twain National Forest. The general project area is located west of U.S. Highway 67, and north of the Black River (see map).

Management Goals

  • The Blackwell Ridge Project would use an ecosystems management approach to enhance natural vegetative communities. The project would move the natural vegetative communities toward their historic landscape patterns.
  • The project would use timber harvest treatments to move the forest toward historic landscape patterns and amounts of disturbed forest. Stands ranging in size from 2-40 acres would be harvested to create new early seral habitat or early seral forest (up to 10 years in age).
  • It would also improve forest health by harvesting mature trees exhibiting decline, particularly species in the red oak group, such as black and scarlet oak while retaining longer-lived species such as as shortleaf pine and white and post oak.
  • In addition to timber harvest treatments, the project would also improve wildlife habitats in ponds and openlands, restore wetland ecosystems in the area, and complete necessary road maintanence to protect water and soil resources.

Climate Change Impacts

According to the majority of climate models and a recently completed vulnerability assessment for the central hardwoods region, these climate change impacts are expected in the Missouri Ozarks region by the end of the century:
Mean annual temperature increases from 2° F to 7° F.
Increased precipitation in winter and spring and potential declines in summer.
Increased frequency and severity of wildfire.

Challenges and Opportunities

Climatic changes will affect local ecosystems on the Mark Twain National Forest. Historic logging and grazing reduced the amount of shortleaf pine in the area and led to an increase in closed-canopy forests and woodlands dominated by scarlet and black oak. Model results across a range of climate scenarios project that climate conditions will be favorable for shortleaf pine; however, the current canopy structure is inhibiting its regeneration. In addition, black and scarlet oak are projected to be negatively affected by changes in climate, especially if summers become much hotter and drier.

Adaptation Actions

Staff from the Mark Twain National Forest used Forest Adaptation Resources: Climate Change Tools and Approaches for Land Managers to identify actions to enhance the adaptive capacity of ecosystems in the project area. Below are a few examples of broad adaptation approaches and specific tactics that are proposed to enhance the adaptive capacity of the project area in the face of a changing climate:

Upland Forest
2.1. Maintain or improve the ability of forests to resist pests and pathogens.
3.1. Alter forest structure or composition to reduce risk or severity of wildfire.
3.3. Alter forest structure to reduce severity or extent of wind and ice damage.
5.3. Retain biological legacies.
Harvest damaged trees or trees in danger of being killed by insects, disease, or other factors
Thinning would move species composition and canopy closer toward the historic natural vegetative conditions. Shortleaf pine and white oak would be the preferred species to retain as standing trees
An estimated 12% of the project area would be designated as old growth
1.2. Maintain or restore hydrology.
Approximately 54 acres of wetlands would be restored using heavy equipment to create small depressions in pockets of silt-clay-loam soils within the site. Work would be conducted in existing open field areas.
Following ground disturbance, exposed soils would be immediately seeded with a desirable seed mix to reduce erosion

Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Leslie



Last Updated

Wednesday, January 24, 2018