Current River Pinery Tour - Oak Fire Science

Located between Springfield and Poplar Bluff, Missouri, along several miles of back-country roads on the Mark Twain National Forest, this self-guided tour of the Current River Pinery consists of four stops, which describe the history, ecology, and social benefits of the fire-adapted shortleaf pine-oak woodlands here.

Learn firsthand how the U.S. Forest Service and partners use prescribed fire as a restoration tool. Each stop features an interpretive sign and an accompanying podcast in which regional experts tell more about what you are seeing.

As you drive, enjoy big pines, spreading oaks, and all the Ozark scenery. In season, see birds, butterflies, flowering trees, and wildflowers.


Podcasts can be accessed on-site by a QR-code on each sign, or you can download before your visit (coming soon).  For a printable map and directions, click here.

   Even without visiting the site in person, you can learn much about the Current River Pinery from home! Click the link under each sign below for in-depth information about each stop! 



The Tour Stops


Stop 1: Welcome to the current river pinery

Stop 1. Overview: Welcome to the Current River Pinery. At either end (west or east, see map below) of the self-guided tour, an Overview stop greets visitors. Here, you will see tall pines and diverse groundcover critical to many wildlife species. Learn about the importance of these shortleaf pine woodands and how they are being restored. In the accompanying podcast, join a U.S. Forest Service burn boss who’s conducting a prescribed fire deep in the pinery, then learn from a historian about the open woodlands of the past.

Click for more info, photos, and maps

Stop 2: The decline of shortleaf pine

Stop 2. History: The Decline of Shortleaf Pine. The landscape here resembles historical conditions, with wide-spaced century-old pines. In the podcast segment, a fire history researcher describes long-ago Ozark woodland conditions, as revealed by fire scars in  ancient pine stumps, and a Missouri forest historian tells of the lasting impact of the early 1900s Ozark timber boom and subsequent fire suppression.

Click for more info and photos

Stop 3: The fire ecology of shortleaf pine-oak woodlands

Stop 3. Ecology: Fire-adapted ecosystems falter without flames. After repeated prescribed fires, the groundcover here is once again favoring fire-adapted species. In the podcast segment, plant and wildlife biologists discuss the long-term ecological consequences of the timber boom and fire suppression, and they look at how bird and plant species are faring today in the Current River Pinery.

Click for more info and photos

Stop 4. Societal benefits of managed shortleaf pine-oak woodlands

Stop 4. Benefits: Managed Woodlands Benefit Society. Scenic mixed oak-pine woodlands at this stop represent many resources for humans and animals. In the podcast segment, fire-science professionals  and biologists tell how fire-adapted woodlands benefit human societies, past and present, both within the Current River Pinery and elsewhere in Missouri.

Click for more info and photos

If you haven’t been to the pinery, take the tour in person!


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