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at Big Sugar Creek State Park

BIG SUGAR CREEK STATE PARK
Conceptual Development Plan
June 2001

Established: 1992
Size: 2,082 acres
Location: McDonald County, T 22 N R 31 W

MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of Big Sugar Creek State Park is to preserve and interpret the natural and cultural resources associated with the Elk River Region that are located within the park's boundaries, including the Big Sugar Creek riparian corridor. Recreational opportunities consistent with the preservation of these resources and that do not exceed the capacity of the land to sustain these activities, will be provided.

INTRODUCTION

Big Sugar Creek State Park is the only state park to represent the Elk River Section of the Ozarks Natural Landscape Division. The Elk River watershed, which includes Big Sugar Creek, is a portion of the Arkansas River Basin, which extends into Missouri's Ozarks. It has a distinct natural history, with many of its plants and animals being southern species that are less common or absent further into our state. This basin is also noted for having the most distinctive fish populations of any major Ozark division.

This unique natural history theme coupled with interest from the local community resulted in the designation of Big Sugar Creek State Park in 1992 with an initial acquisition of 640 acres. In 2000 the value and significance of the park's natural environment resulted in the designation of 1,613 of the park's 2,048 current acres as the "Elk River Breaks Natural Area". This designation by the Missouri Natural Areas Committee emphasizes the importance of the park's chert woodlands, forests and headwater stream to the natural history of the state. A house and several associated structures are located on the park property and are suitable for temporary service facilities. Approximately three (3) miles of hiking trails are under construction.

DEVELOPMENT GOALS

  • Preserve and interpret the natural and cultural resources associated with the Elk River Region, that are located within the park's boundaries, including the Big Sugar Creek riparian corridor
  • Provide recreational and public use facilities consistent with the preservation of these resources and the mission of the park and that do not exceed the capacity of the land to sustain these activities
  • Provide adequate operational, administrative and maintenance support facilities to protect, secure and maintain the resources of the park
  • Provide adequate visitor orientation and interpretive facilities to enhance the public's understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the resources of the park.

DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES

Recreation Area

Park Orientation and Trail Head
Develop the hiking trail head with support facilities, including but not limited to, park orientation signage, parking and a vault toilet.

Open-Air Interpretive Facility
Develop an open-air interpretive facility to interpret the natural and cultural resources at the park at the hiking trail head location.

Hiking Trails
Continue to develop hiking trails in the area defined as the "Elk River Breaks Natural Area" as well as in future purchase units. Only hiking trails will be developed. See appendix for supporting discussion.

Stabilize Shady Grove School Stone Out-Building and Shady Grove School Footprint
Rock outbuilding and footprint of the Shady Grove School will be stabilized and used for interpretive purposes.

Day Use
Develop the land across the road from the trail head, which is currently in park ownership, for day use purposes. This includes but is not limited to shelters, playground, restrooms and other support facilities.

Special-Use Camp
Develop a special-use camp area where the old homestead (circa. 1950s) is currently located and in the cedar grove located northwest from the homestead. Each area shall accommodate parking, a vault toilet and fire rings. The homestead and out buildings will be removed.

Canoe Access and Parking
Provide canoe access and support facilities for canoes to launch and take out.

Service Complex

Relocate Service Building
Relocate the service building so that it is moved out of the floodplain and into an area that can provide the necessary infrastructure to support a service complex. The existing service building and surrounding outbuildings will be removed.

ACQUISITIONS

Acquisition of 5 Acres within the Day Use Area (#1)

Acquire approximately five acres that is an in-holding located in the area designated for day use.

Acquisition of 10 Acres Surrounded by the Elk River Breaks Natural Area (#2)

Acquire a 10-acre plot that is currently an in-holding which houses a microwave tower and is surrounded by the Elk River Breaks Natural Area.

Acquisition of 123 Acres Along the County Road within the Park (#3)

Acquire 123 acres of in holdings that are located on either side of the county road that bisects the park.

Acquisition of 2,476 Acres that Surround the Existing Park Boundaries (#4)

Acquire 2,476 acres of land that comprises a defined watershed boundary for Big Sugar Creek. This will facilitate and enhance watershed protection and natural resource management.

PLANNING AND RESEARCH GOALS

Research and Archaeology

Additional historical archaeology is needed for the Shady Grove School stone out-building for stabilization and interpretation.

Interpretation Plan

The Interpretation Plan should be completed to address all interpretive issues at the park.

Cultural Resources Plan

The Cultural Resources Plan should be completed to address all cultural resource issues at the park.

Natural Resources Plan

The Natural Resources Plan should be completed to address all natural resource issues at the park.

Development Phasing

Development Phasing will be completed after the plan is approved.

APPROVED BY:

Douglas Eiken, Director, Division of State Parks, 12/18/01
Deborah Schnack, Director, Planning and Development Program, 12/14/01
Denny Bopp, District Supervisor, Ozarks District, 12/11/01
Kevin Bolling, Park Superintendent, Roaring River State Park, 12/11/01

APPENDIX

Members of the CDP Team

Kevin Bolling, Park Superintendent, Roaring River State Park
Merle Rogers, Park Naturalist, Roaring River State Park
Denny Bopp, District Supervisor, Ozarks District
Rick Johnson, Assistant District Supervisor, Ozarks District
Earl Schuessler, Natural Resource Manager, Operations and Resource Management Program
Ken McCarty, Natural Resource Manager, Operations and Resource Management Program
Deb Schnack, Program Director, Planning and Development Program
Lisa Dillon, Architect I, Planning and Development Program