Natural Beauty Thrives Under L-A-D’s Close Watch


 by James Moore

Foundations do appear on the ‘Land Report’s Top 100,’ but there is one entry that literally seems to have a hand in everything — from acreage areas large to small — maintaining some of the most beautiful locations in the country.


Owning over 143,000 acres in total, the L-A-D Foundation works hard each and every day. Most of the acreage is the Pioneer Forest, Pioneer Forestbut a State Historic Site, a State Park/National Natural Landmark, eleven Missouri Natural Areas, 100 acres of river corridor land, and a site on the National Register of Historic Places, has certainly helped L-A-D Foundation become well-known for the extreme beauty it’s responsible for.


A private operating foundation, L-A-D is absolutely dedicated to sustainable forest management. They work hard to protect natural areas located in Missouri, and constantly provide support for projects that have a positive impact on the Missouri Ozark region. Whereas most environmental or conservation Foundation’s stick to the protection and maintenance of biological and geological land issues, L-A-D is highly interested in protecting the cultural value of the land, as well.


For anyone who has not had the pleasure, Pioneer Forest is at the core of the Missouri Ozarks. Huge trees — oak, hickory and pine — stand strong and tall. The forest management method, single-tree selection harvesting, is something that L-A-D still utilizes. For over fifty years, this method has shown to be the most successful, and is hugely responsible for making sure that Pioneer Forest remains one of the most captivating and healthy habitats in the country.


Restoring over one hundred thousand acres of Ozark woodland across six Missouri counties, L-A-D always looks at conservation and preservation in the long-term. Even though harvesting takes place, the structure of the forest is never changed or endangered.


Pioneer Forest came to the L-A-D Foundation in 2004, when Leo Drey (another well-known name in the Land Report 100) donated it to them. Drey wanted to make sure that the forest was managed through environmentally sound and sustainable practices – which is exactly what the Foundation continues to do.


But when you start to look at the smaller areas that are watched over by the Foundation, you can see some truly stunning land that enhances this world, as well as offers people immense beauty.


L A DTo name just a couple; the Ball Mill Resurgence Natural Area in Perry County is a small forested area with a trail that carries visitors around small karst windows scattered along the hillside. Viewers also see the large sinkhole that acts as a traditional conduit for water running from the surface to underground reservoirs. Creating several springs, this is a key habitat for the grotto sculpin (a very cool fish that only appears in and around six cave systems in Perry County).


Another spectacular area maintained by L-A-D is Cave Spring, Shannon County. A river entrance at the base of the bluff is what can be seen; the almost vertical line of water appears within a small, air-filled room just inside the mouth of the cave that empties approximately 32 million gallons of water into the Current River every day.


All of the water comes from an underground spring supply system that would put the NYC subways to shame. Fed by at least two large storage reservoirs – Devil’s Well and Wallace Well – it is Devil’s Well that can be used by the public. Visitors can descend into the mouth of a sinkhole and see into the water-filled cavern below. And for avid hikers, there’s a 4.6-mile trail at Devil’s Well that connects with Cave Spring and the Current River for them to enjoy.


There are so many more picturesque areas it’s difficult to list them all; but all one needs to do is head to the L-A-D Foundation website to see the impressive natural beauty that this ‘Top 100’ landowner watches over…and watches out for.

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