Fort Crowder Conservation Area, located in southern Newton County, was once part of the old, World War II Camp Crowder Army Base. The U.S. Army selected the Neosho site for the base because of its proximity to water, railroads, and highways.
Visitors to the area can still see foundations, fruit trees, open fields and other remnants of many of the hundreds of small farms purchased by the federal government for the 60,000-acre base.
Camp Crowder was named for Judge Advocate General and U.S. Ambassador to Cuba Enoch H. Crowder.
Thousands of soldiers went through basic training here before the camp was decommissioned in the mid 1950s, including Mort Walker, who immortalized the Camp as Camp Swampy in his syndicated comic strip, Beetle Bailey.
Fort Crowder Conservation Area, encompassing 2,362 acres, is approximately 60 percent forested. Primary species include white, black, post, blackjack and red oaks, hackberry, elm, black cherry, black walnut, and ash. The remainder of the area is open and includes 200 acres of native warm-season grasses, 100 acres of crop fields and 600 acres of fields maintained in an early successional stage.
The area hosts various game species, including quail, rabbits and doves in the open areas and large numbers of deer and squirrels. Turkeys have been stocked here and are now present in good numbers.
During your visit to Fort Crowder Conservation Area you may view various forest and wildlife improvement projects in progress from the 11 miles of trails that wind through the area. Wildlife habitat management includes the creation of watering ponds and the manipulation of fields to provide added food sources. Timber harvests, which result in additional forage and cover for forest wildlife are also an important element in habitat management.
Fort Crowder also has a very nice unstaffed firearms shooting range and archery range. The shooting range located on Owl Road features 25, 50 & 100 yard ranges as well as an informal shotgun field. Shotgun shooters must provide their own clay targets and thrower. The shooting range is closed on Mondays for maintenance. The archery range is located on eastern edge of the conservation area on Parrot Road and features a walk through field range as well as a static archery range.