Butler Hollow Glades
Points of Interest:
• See showy wildflowers restricted to the White River Hills region of Missouri such as Trelease’s larkspur and narrow-leaf gayfeather.
• Look for the greater roadrunner and painted bunting – birds of southwest Missouri glades.
• Enjoy year round scenery of rugged hills and open glades.
Natural History: An outstanding example of dolomite glades in the White River Hills region of the Ozarks. Large open glades up to 10 acres in size occur along the hillsides of the valley. Native grasses such as little bluestem, side-oats grama and Indian grass are mixed with characteristic glade wildflowers such as wild hyacinth, Missouri black-eyed Susan, Missouri evening primrose, and glade goldenrod. Many plant species restricted to glades of the White River Hills of Missouri are found here including Trelease’s larkspur, Bush’s poppy mallow, glade buckbrush, narrow-leaf gayfeather, and soapberry. All told the site supports 348 native plant species. Associated natural communities include cherty acidic dry woodlands with post oak, black oak and shortleaf pine and dry woodlands dominated by chinkapin oak on alkaline soils derived from dolomite.
Eastern red cedar is a native species that historically occurred primarily on bluffs and cliffs in Missouri. With the advent of fire suppression, eastern red cedar has greatly expanded its range in the state and is nearly ubiquitous. On glades and woodlands, in the absence of fire, eastern red cedar invades and takes over these natural communities. The result is a natural community dominated by eastern red cedar with little ground cover and very low plant and animal diversity. Because of this, glade and woodland natural communities are managed by cutting red cedars and utilizing carefully applied fires, prescribed fires, to restore the formerly diverse natural communities. The U.S. Forest Service has used cedar cutting and prescribed fire here to restore the glades and woodlands.
Animals that make glades their home include scorpions and tarantulas (both mainly nocturnal animals) and a multitude of insect species. The desert-like condition of glades is ideal habitat for a number of lizard species such as the southern coal skink and the six-lined racerunner. Birds to look for here include the prairie warbler, greater roadrunner, field sparrow, yellow-breasted chat, and the painted bunting. The rare Bachman’s sparrow has been known to nest at this natural area.
Many inhabitants of these glades such as the greater roadrunner, tarantula, soapberry, and cobea beardtongue are at the northeast edge of their natural range. In a sense these species and other glade inhabitants of Missouri can be considered relicts of the Xerothermic Period, 8,000 to 5,000 years ago, when the state’s climate was hotter and drier than today. During that time many southwestern and great plains species expanded their ranges into Missouri. Since then the climate has ameliorated and these desert species have found suitable habitats on Missouri’s mini-deserts, the glades.
From Cassville take Highway 112 south (passing by Roaring River State Park) approximately 9 miles. Turn left (south) on Forest Service road 197 (Sugar Camp Scenic Drive). Follow Forest Service road 197 2 miles to Forest Service road 1004 on the right (south). Take Forest Service road 1004 up the hill 0.25 mile to the Sugar Camp Lookout Tower. From the lookout tower site go another 0.25 mile (stay to the left at the “Y”) to the northeast corner of the natural area. From here you will need a map and compass to navigate the natural area. Hunting and fishing are permitted.