The Big Piney Watershed is part of the larger Gasconade Basin and accounts for 21% of the drainage area of the Gasconade. The Gasconade (including the Big Piney) drains a large portion of the northern slope of the Salem Plateau which is a part of the Ozark Plateau. The Big Piney Watershed has an area of approximately 755 square miles in portions of 4 counties in Missouri (Figure Lo01). These counties include Texas, Howell, Phelps, and Pulaski Counties. Most of the watershed (74%) lies within Texas County, while Pulaski, Phelps, and Howell Counties contain 14%, 12%, and less than 1% of the watershed respectively. The Big Piney Watershed is bounded on the west, north and a portion of the east side by the remainder of the Gasconade Basin. The Meramec, Current, and Jacks Fork Watersheds bound the Big Piney on the remainder of the East side, while the North Fork watershed lies on its southern boundary.
The Big Piney River begins as a first order stream approximately 4 miles northwest of Cabool, Missouri. From its beginnings, the stream flows in a southeasterly direction for approximately 4 miles before entering the city of Cabool, Missouri. It then continues in a southeasterly direction for 2 miles before turning northeast and following the outskirts of Cabool for an additional 2 miles. From Cabool, the river continues in a northeasterly direction for 35 miles before turning to the North, Northeast. The Big Piney continues to follow this general direction for approximately 67 miles before emptying into the Gasconade River 2.8 river miles north of Interstate 44.
The Big Piney Watershed has 5 cities and towns within or partially within its boundary (Figure Lo02). They include Cabool, Houston, Licking, Raymondville, and St. Robert. In addition, approximately 38% of the Fort Leonard Wood Military Reservation (hereafter referred to as FLW in this document) occurs within the watershed.
The Big Piney Watershed includes approximately 1,737 miles of roads (USDC 1997). This is 2.3 miles of road for every square mile of drainage area. Two railroads (including the FLW spur), one interstate, two U.S. Highways, and 7 major state routes intersect the Big Piney Watershed (Figure Lo02).