Park Plans

at Finger Lakes State Park

Conceptual Development Plan

An amendment to the conceptual development plan for Finger Lakes State Park was proposed in 2005. Public meetings were conducted and the proposal was approved through the conceptual development plan process in February 2006. 

Following is that approved amendment.


In 1974 the Peabody Coal Company donated 1,028 acres of the former Mark Twain Mine to the state park system. This donation was made two years after the passage of several land reclamation laws. The Department of the Interior had been searching for strip-mined land on which to conduct reclamation-for-recreation projects. Missouri received one of only two federal grants awarded for reclamation projects.

Peabody Coal Company mined in this area for three years from 1964 to 1967, removing more than 1.2 million tons of coal. The strip mining operation left behind rugged terrain and many small lakes. The barren topography and finger lakes are ideal for off-road motorcycles, swimmers, canoeists and divers.

All planning and development will focus on the park's rugged terrain, providing such activities as motorcycle and all terrain vehicle use, swimming and canoeing. Areas that were left undisturbed from the mining operation or that have been replanted will provide for such activities as camping and picnicking.


Develop Stream Restoration Area
Develop Designated Trails Area
Develop Primary Access Trail


Acquisition of Purchase Unit A


Kelley Branch Restoration Project

Submitted by: Larry Larson, Boonville Area Office; Debbie Newby, Finger Lakes State Park; Jessica Terrell, Planning and Development Program; Tim Turpin, Resource Management and Interpretation Program; and Barry Rabe, Operations Program.

This is an amendment to the Conceptual Development Plan (CDP) for Finger Lakes State Park. Due to the mandated improvement of impaired aquatic habitat on the Kelley Branch, changes to the CDP are as follows:

History and Present Use

The area that is now Finger Lakes State Park was formerly strip-mined by the Peabody Coal Company. The area was intensely mined from 1964 until 1967. Through a reclamation-to-recreation project, the land was donated to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in 1974.

Due to the park’s rugged terrain and history of off-road vehicle (ORV) use, ORV recreation has been a priority since the opening of the park. The park presently offers a majority of acreage for uninhibited ORV use with only five percent of total park acreage restricted from riding. The Kelley Branch, listed as a 303(d) impaired waterway since 1998, has impaired aquatic habitat primarily due to excessive sedimentation in the stream. These impairments are due to ORV use in and along the stream.

Missouri’s Water Quality Standards are located in 10 CSR 20-7.031. A Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, report was generated by the DNR Water Pollution Control Program in 2003. This report outlines the requirements for recovering Kelley Branch from the 303(d) list. The stream must have a 50 percent reduction in fine sediments in order to achieve this goal. Our long-term restoration goals should eventually exceed this regulatory minimum sediment reduction and return the stream to a healthier stream habitat.

Scope of Project

The primary focus of this project is to restore Kelley Branch habitat and to achieve compliance with 10 CSR 20-7.031. Additional park improvements as described below are integral to this focus and to maintain and improve the support of park constituents.

Proposed Changes and Impacts

Stream Restoration Area
A Stream Restoration Area (SRA) must be created around the stream to reduce sedimentation and surface runoff. It is proposed that the SRA will be composed of approximately 119 acres; this is less than ten percent of the park acreage. Specifically, the size offers a 150 foot minimum buffer area to the west of the stream and allows a larger buffer to the east, where terrain is steeper and more prone to erosion and runoff. Additionally, existing water barriers to the east of the stream greatly reduce the need for barrier construction and associated costs. The remaining soils in the park have been classified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as being highly erodable with moderate to rapid runoff rate. The Kelley Branch TMDL noted that ground cover was greater than 40 percent bare soil. The proposed SRA size is the minimum practical size to meet the goals of this project. Due to the fragile nature of the reclaimed area and the high probability that some ORV users will continue to abuse the stream, an ORV excluding barrier is a necessary component for the success of this project. This barrier should be a guardrail construction as is used along highways and at St. Joe State Park. This barrier material offers the minimum of cost, vulnerability and animal exclusion while effectively excluding ORVs. Following barrier completion, vegetation restoration would be initiated to reduce continuing erosion.

Safety and expanded constituency would be improved by opening a non-motorized trail area in the park. An existing trail would be improved to allow use by hikers and bicyclists. This designated trail would be developed inside the Stream Restoration Area and would have no impact on the area open to ORV use.

Primary Access Trail
A cross-park ORV riding trail, the Primary Access Trail, would be constructed to focus trail maintenance costs and to improve access for park users, staff and emergency responders alike. The trail, with access spurs, should be ten feet in width and approximately 3.3 miles in length. This trail will provide access from the camping area through the park to the proposed Consolidated Staging Area and to the proposed Designated Trails Only Area of the park. Signed ORV road crossings would be designated at points off of the Primary Access Trail to improve road safety and to allow access to riding areas to the east side of the park road. ORV users would no longer need to travel on or near the park roads in order to access different riding areas. This represents a substantial benefit to the park enforcement effort and to ORV users.

The present ORV Staging Area would be gated and used for overflow parking as needed. Relocating the staging area to the Motocross Parking Area would improve access to the Primary Access Trail and consolidate the staging areas.

Designated Trails Only Area
A Designated Trails Only Area, approximately 145 acres, would be developed in the southwest portion of the park for the many riders who have requested defined trails. This area would be used for riding on a designated trail only. Driven by the need to install the barrier, it is anticipated that an access trail for construction equipment will be needed. After barrier completion, this "construction zone trail" would be converted to designated trail.

Safety issues and the concerns of other state agencies will be addressed by limiting use along existing roadways. Dangerous use, including unauthorized highway access points, pointed out by Missouri State Park Rangers, Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Highway Patrol and neighboring landowners will be mitigated by restricting off-trail use in the Designated Trails Only Area. Additional barriers would be placed at areas identified along the park boundary to restrict renegade paths into and out of the park. Restricting the renegade paths will improve the park’s single entrance access, aid enforcement effort and increase related visitor fees.

No Change Area
The majority of the park’s 1,128 acres will remain as a No Change Area. This means that the designated use of the No Change Area - open riding - will not change. However, the Primary Access Trail will provide a much needed access improvement in the No Change Area. Presently, there are 1,070 acres open to ORV use. This project will remove 119 acres of this total from ORV use for the Stream Restoration Area, roughly 11 percent of the present total ORV areas. The development of the Designated Trails Only Area will allow park use by those riders that wish to travel on a developed trail, as many riders have indicated.

Phasing of Project

#1) Barrier Construction, Consolidate Staging Area Parking

#2) Primary Access Trail construction, possibly using Workforce 2000 summer crew

#3) Trail Designation in Trails Only Motorized Area

#4) Trail Designation in SRA followed by Vegetation Restoration