Ferguson-Herold Conservation Area is located in western Lafayette County, two miles southwest of Bates City. Visitors will find a parking lot located along Walton Road on the east boundary.
The Conservation Department acquired this area as a generous donation from the Harriet P. Copple Trust in remembrance of the Ferguson and Herold families, who owned and farmed the land since 1867.
Colonel James Walton and family first homesteaded the property in 1839. The "Walton Farm" had a large southern-style mansion and slave quarters. They grew tobacco, hemp, wheat and corn, and allowed livestock to graze the unfenced range. Unable to maintain the farm after slavery was abolished following the Civil War, the Waltons sold the property to Alfred and Sedena Ferguson in 1867. The Fergusons, originally from Ohio, arrived in Pleasant Hill by train, before making their final trek with their livestock and personal possessions to the farm by wagon and on foot.
The 175-acre area includes rolling hills, crop fields, old fields, and small tracts of timber. Four small, fishless ponds are present, and an intermittent stream, Little Horeshoe Creek, passes through the center of the area.
Hunting opportunities on Ferguson-Herold Conservation Area are enhanced by the re-establishment of the historic prairie and the restoration of the woodlands through thinning and prescribe burning and by the creation of early successional habitat through edge feathering, establishing shrub thickets, disking, and creating brush piles.
Sustainable land management practices demonstrate how a row crop and hay farm can produce both income and wildlife habitat while protecting water quality. A permittee farmer grows row crops annually, leaving a percentage of the crops to serve as wildlife food plots. A wooded buffer is maintained on either side of Little Horseshoe Creek and native warm season grass buffer strips are maintained between the crop fields and the wooded creek buffer to reduce soil erosion and provide wildlife food and cover.