Rocky Creek Conservation Area Background: The Rocky Creek Conservation Area (CA) contains over 38,000 acres in the southern and eastern parts of Shannon County. Major tracts can be accessed along Highway 19 south, Highway 106, and from Routes H and E. Additional tracts are located north and south of Highway 106, starting 5 miles east of Eminence and continuing to the Reynolds County line. Tracts vary in size from over 6,000 acres to 80 acres, some of which were originally state forests, including Indian Creek, Bloom Creek, Blairs Creek, Mule Mountain, and the Rocky Creek State Forest. Others were part of the Keer-McGee land acquisition that happened in 1995-1996.
Rocky Creek CA is in the Ozark Highland Section and the Current River Hills Subsection (Nigh & Schroeder, 2002). The majority of the conservation area is in the Oak-Pine Woodland/Forest Hills Landtype Association. The remaining area is in the Eminence Igneous Glade/Oak Forest Hills landtype that includes Coot, Peter Mooney, Mill, Barnett, Vance, and Buttin Rock mountains. Rocky Creek CA is a forested landscape, resulting from The Great Cutover around the turn of the century. Today, woodlands and forests are covered by mostly even-aged black oak, scarlet oak, white oak, post oak, hickory, and some shortleaf pine. Although the conservation area is in the native shortleaf pine range, many pine sites have been invaded by other hardwoods species that are now past or reaching maturity.
The area is managed with a sustainable ecological approach to multiple-use management. The goal of the silviculture prescriptions is to improve the overall health and vigor of the forest by promoting and encouraging natural communities indigenous to the landtype association. The prescriptions will guide the forest to more ecological and biological stable conditions that will enhance productivity and value over time. Management techniques include prescribed fire, invasive species control, planting, selective and regeneration harvests. Other areas are set aside for old-growth habitat, and will not be actively managed by the Department.
With almost 40,000 acres of public land, the Rocky Creek CA provides for a wide range of outdoor activities. These include nature viewing, bird watching, hiking, dispersed primitive camping, and hunting and fishing opportunities. Rocky Creek provides access to the Current River, just south of the Highway 106 bridge near Owls Bend east of Eminence. The conservation area is also home to an auto driving tour that explores a 1,300-acre pine oak woodland restoration project. Access to areas varies from paved roads to unimproved woods roads, to areas that are only accessible by foot.
The area also contains many springs, caves, and karst features that contain some of the rarest plants and animals in the state. Rocky Creek CA is the focus of ongoing natural community restoration projects in forest, woodlands, and glades. These projects are designed to improve the systems overall health and vigor and provide for a diverse range of wildlife habitat.