Park Plans

at Pershing State Park

Conceptual Development Plan
November 2004

Established: 1937
Location: Linn County, T57 R21W
Size: 3,565 acres


The primary mission of Pershing State Park is the preservation, restoration and interpretation of a remnant North Missouri landscape. The components include an active meandering stream, sloughs, marshes, wet prairies, bottomland forests, upland forests, savanna, upland prairies, and associated plant and animal species. Consideration is also given to cultural and recreational aspects associated with the natural landscape.


The 3,565-acre Pershing State Park is an excellent example of the wetland landscape once common in northern Missouri. Virtually all north Missouri rivers and streams have now been straightened and channelized; their flood plains converted to crop and pasture land. However, a portion of Locust Creek still meanders across the flood plain within the park and keeps alive the rare example of what these lands once held. This portion has been designated an Outstanding State Water Resource (OSWR). There is little likelihood of additional OSWR designations of northern Missouri streams of the type or quality represented by Locust Creek.

The wetland landscape created by Locust Creek and its meanders is incredibly unique and houses a great diversity of plant and animal species, many of special concern. Its dynamic force still shapes the landscape by forming oxbow lakes, sloughs, shrub swamps, and marshes. Additionally, Locust Creek contributes to the largest remaining wet prairie in Missouri, located within state park boundaries. Two state designated natural areas, Cordgrass Bottom Natural Area and Locust Creek Natural Area, are also located within the park.


Preserve and interpret the natural resources associated with Locust Creek and the natural and cultural resources located within the park's boundaries.Provide recreational and public use facilities that are 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 visitor orientation and interpretive facilities to enhance the public's understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the resources of the park.Provide adequate operational, administrative and maintenance support facilities to protect, secure and maintain the resources of the park.


Develop Canoe/Fishing Access

A public canoeing/fishing access will be developed at the intersection of Highway 36 and Locust Creek, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). MDC has agreed to construct a gravel parking lot and fishing access. Local use has already been established in this area; provision of a parking lot will provide greater accessibility.

Develop New Campground

The location of the existing campground and its spatial orientation preclude the addition of new campsites. Due to the increasing popularity and demand for campsites, a new campground will be developed east of the current location and provide basic campsites, 50-amp electric campsites or both. The existing campground will be converted to a day-use area. Requires the acquisition of Purchase Unit B.

Develop Natural Interpretive Display

South of Highway 36, a display will be constructed which will be self-guided and will interpret the surrounding natural features. Requires the acquisition of Purchase Unit D.

Convert Existing Campground to Day Use

Campsites will be removed and a day-use area will be developed to provide additional picnic sites.

Realign C.C.C. Roadway

The current roadway near 19th century barn will be moved to preserve and protect the barn from drainage and erosion.

Land Acquisition

Several purchase units have been identified that will provide watershed protection, viewshed protection and future development of a new campground and natural interpretive display.

Purchase Unit A – would provide buffer along Hwy. 36, preclude potential development along park entrance and protect viewshed for a potential new campground.Purchase Unit B – would allow the development of a new, larger campground.Purchase Unit C – would ensure continued watershed protection through contiguous ownership of critical land units.Purchase Unit D – would allow the development of a natural interpretive display, protect a significant limestone mound, and ensure continued watershed protection.Purchase Units E and F – the entire watershed associated with Locust Creek slopes gently to the west toward Higgins Ditch. Because of this, Higgins Ditch has begun pirating Locust Creek. Any change in flow of Locust Creek has significant implications for the entire park, and may irreversibly alter the wetland landscapes within the park. Purchase of land units E and F would provide opportunity to implement management practices that would reduce drainage from Locust Creek to Higgins Ditch. 

Approved by:

Douglas K. Eiken, Director, Division of State Parks, 11/23/04
Jane Lale, Director, Planning and Development Program, 11/19/04
Frank St. Clair, Field Operations Supervisor, Northern Parks District, 01/18/04
Dan Files, Park Superintendent, Pershing State Park, 01/12/04


Members of the CDP team:

Frank St. Clair, Field Operations Supervisor, Northern Parks District
Dan Files, Park Superintendent, Pershing State Park
Marian Goodding, District Interpreter, Northern Parks District
Mike Currier, Resource Steward, Resource Management and Interpretation Program
Richard Forry, Assistant Field Operations Supervisor, Northern Missouri Historic District
Pat Crawford, Landscape Architect, Planning and Development Program
Mark Hohengasser, Architect, Planning and Development Program
Dawn Fredrickson, Planner, Planning and Development Program

Citizen Input:

Pershing State Park was one of the first parks to use online and paper surveys to augment the citizen input process. Conducting surveys allows a much broader audience with greater geographic distribution the opportunity to express their development suggestions and concerns than is typically provided by public meetings, whose participants tend primarily toward local residents. The following appendix includes public meeting information for Pershing's two public meetings, a copy of the Phase I and Phase II survey instruments, and a summary of the results from these surveys.