Sand Pond Conservation Area is located in southeastern Ripley County, 4.5 miles south of Naylor on Route W. The area contains 302 acres. The Nature Conservancy owns an additional 500 acres in Missouri and 160 acres in Arkansas that are adjacent to the area.
Sand Pond Conservation Area was purchased primarily to protect the unique dune-swale ecosystem found here, but the area also offers good opportunities for hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing, and other recreational opportunities. The sandy soils that characterize the area were deposited here by the waters of melting glaciers during the Late Wisconsin Stage. Then, about 18,000 to 22,000 years ago, winds swept the land and formed these sands into dunes and swales, or ponds. The ponds and their banks support many rare and endangered species, including corkwood, the western mud snake and a federally endangered shrub called pondberry.
Native Americans occupied the dunes between 5,000 B.C. and 1350 A.D. In the early 1900s, European settlers cleared the dunes for farming.
We have planted trees in these fields to help restore the dunes to their natural condition. Over time, the dunes will begin to support more of the diverse assemblage of native plants and animals that they once did.
A 68-acre portion of Sand Pond Conservation Area and the TNC Sand Ponds Preserve is designated as a Missouri Natural Area. Natural Areas are biological communities or geologic sites that are protected and managed to perpetuate the natural character, diversity, and ecological processes of Missouri's native landscapes.