Sunday, March 22, 2009

Elk River Hills

The Elk River Hills, located in the far southwest corner of the Ozarks, rest entirely within the Elk River drainage basin. Three large creeks (pictured: Big Sugar)converge to become the Elk River, a wide, shallow, chert bottom river that feeds into the Arkansas River system.

Cherty limestones dominate here, perched on top of beds of shale. Deep valleys cut through Devonian limestones to Ordovician Jefferson City-Cotter dolomite below. Glades and savannas were once common in Elk River country, but now most of the area is second-growth mixed oak closed woodlands. Glades here are in need of cedar clearing projects.
Before heading to the woods, I stopped in the town square of Pineville and found a lovely old storefront with original pressed tin finishes. The lowlands associated with Big Sugar Creek are largely in pasture now, but some bottomlands remain wooded in dense second or third growth stands.

The Elk River Hills is the only location in Missouri for Virginia whitlow grass (Paronychia virginica var. scoparia) and the chert pebble snail.

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