Shoal Creek Watershed Consortium

Land Learning Foundation has been working with a grant-funded non-profit group called the Shoal Creek Watershed Consortium.

The Consortium includes organizations dedicated to water conservation, including Midwest Water Initiative, The Nature Conservancy, Stream Teams United, Harry S Truman Coordinating Council, SLU WATER Institute, local stream teams, and more local partners.

LLF owns a 35-acre site just north of Neosho, MO called the Confluence Site because it is where Hickory Creek joins Shoal Creek. We are working to restore this previously overgrazed cattle operation to its natural floodplain condition. This consists of stabilizing the streambanks of Hickory and Shoal Creeks in four reaches, enhancing and creating 3+ acres of wetland, and reforesting the rest of the site. Our primary objective of the site is to use it as a demonstration and education site for both schools and adults.

In November 2022, we planted 1,600+ native shrubs and tree at the Confluence Site. With the help of over 90 volunteers, including Junior Air Force ROTC students from Neosho High School (NHS) and other NHS students, all the trees were planted and watered in less than two days! The trees were Forrest Keeling Root Production Method plants. Wet tolerant species were planted in low lying areas and along the banks of Hickory and Shoal Creeks, along with fruit and nut trees in upland areas. Another 200 hickory and moist-loving trees were planted in November 2023.

In 2023, we hosted GLADE for a several days. The Green Leadership Academy for Diverse Ecosystems (GLADE) is a summer camp for dedicated high schoolers in Southwest Missouri interested in conservation. The students visited the Confluence Site to learn about water quality monitoring of macroinvertebrates and water chemistry. They also took soil samples at a location they marked so future GLADE participants can compare changes in soil composition over time. The students supported out restoration work by identifying tree species and survivability that were planted in November 2022. GLADE director, Justine Lines noted “The service work felt so satisfying to finish. I really enjoyed how much we were able to do at the Confluence Site.” Reflecting on the week and the locations, professionals, and activities the group encountered, she added “it was a good area that involved multiple types of information to be learned and actual practice applying those concepts.”
We look forward to seeing GLADE again in June 2024!

The Confluence Site has hosted several school field trips, allowing students to gain hands-on experience with topics such as water quality, soils, tree identification, streambank restoration, native plants, trash reduction, canoe and kayak safety, and more conservation topics. These groups have include Crowder College and Neosho High School.

We have hosted several Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring workshops at the Confluence Site. This will provide long-term data on the water chemistry and macroinvertebrate composition in Hickory Creek. These workshops allow citizens to learn about water quality and the things that impact it, while inspiring them to find a stream to adopt and test henceforth.

The Consortium has been working with several private landowners in the Shoal Creek Watershed to restore streambanks, implement farm conservation practices, and more.

LLF has partnered with streambank engineering at the SLU WATER Institute to develop a plan to stabilize 4 reaches of Hickory and Shoal Creek.

These projects were funded by Natural Resources Damage Assessment Trustees for Missouri which includes Missouri Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional support is from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 319 Nonpoint Source Program, the National Fish and Wildlife Federation Five Star and Urban Waters Program, Conservation Federation of Missouri Risberg Grant, and the Landscape Conservation Catalyst Fund of the Network for Landscape Conservation.

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