Community Forest at Garrison Springs
The City of Ozark is in the process of creating a state-of-art community forest that will include a walking trail, a bird-watching area, a viewing area, a beautiful outdoor green space for families to enjoy, and much more. The City of Ozark purchased this property in March 2021, with the assistance of two grants: the Missouri Department of Conservation Land Conservation Partnership and a Federal Forestry Grant. The City's goal is to develop and manage a park that offers visitors an up-close experience with the native ecosystems and geologic features of the Ozarks.
Garrison Springs is currently closed to the public while crews work on maintenance upgrades and construction. Please keep clear of the area.
During the construction phase of this project, safety is of the utmost concern. We kindly ask for your cooperation in avoiding the area during this time. To minimize foot and vehicular traffic, additional barricades and fencing have been installed. This is a necessary precaution due to the limited working space in the immediate vicinity.
We appreciate your patience and cooperation throughout the development process. Once finished, the Community Forest at Garrison Springs will serve as a testament to the city's dedication to preserving its natural environment and building a sustainable community.
Development at Garrison Springs is moving along. Crews began preparations for the construction of the culverts on the property on July 24. This portion of the construction is expected to be finished in the Fall of 2023. Since the purchase of the property was finalized, planning began and eventually made its way from paper to reality. Preparation of the land for development has included a prescribed burn, clean up of invasive species, new trees planted, work on a new metal gate, clearing and prepping the parking lot area, installing a solar panel pole, and new lighting.
The City of Ozark is very excited to offer the citizens of Ozark our very first Community Forest.
When residents and guests visit the new community forest, they will enter a hidden, natural world, contained entirely within a long valley defined by steep tree-covered hillsides with outcroppings of exposed rock. This is a landscape dominated by trees, abundant water, and karst features. Along the valley floor meanders Garrison Branch, a small stream-fed in part by three springs on the property. The springs are connected to a cave system that has been mapped and classified as the seventh longest in the state by the Springfield Plateau Grotto, an organization that promotes cave conservation, surveying, and management. One spring flows from a small cave located high up on one of the hillsides. Water cascades down this hill, forming pools along the way behind low, man-made walls so old that no one today knows why they are there, though theories abound. A perennial spring on the property was one of the original water sources for the City and a segment of the Old Wire Road, a historic regional mail trail, cuts through the property. Whether these impoundments were used to water horses on a mail run, wash laundry, or provide a scenic gathering spot for early settlers, they are now in a state of disrepair.
Garrison Spring Branch, which flows directly through the park, discharges into the Finley River only a mile downstream, which then is discharged into the James River only 10 miles southwest of Ozark near Jamesville, Missouri.
Community Forest Management PlanThe City of Ozark has worked with the James River Basin Partnership for a plan for the
The James River Basin Partnership (JRBP) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to “improve and protect the water quality of the springs, streams, rivers, and lakes in the James River watershed.
The City of Ozark is partnered with Watershed of the Ozarks and Ozark Fire Department on a prescribed burn for the Community Forest at Garrison Springs.
As a part of the grant received to acquire Garrison Springs from the Federal Forestry Department, it is required that the city perform a prescribed burn, which was broken into five phases. Prescribed burns are most beneficial when done in the dormant season, which is between late December and Spring green-up.
Photo by the National Geographic Society.
Benefits of a safe and successful prescribed burn:
- Combats trees and shrubs that shade out prairie and other shade-intolerant plants
- Removes old vegetation to make room for new growth
- Shifts soil nutrients to a state more favorable to prairie species
- Helps reduce the spread of invasive and pest species
- Consumes excess fuel, such as dead and downed trees, reducing dangerous and intense wildfires
- Burning in patches creates a mosaic of habitats for a variety of plants and animals
- For more information on the benefits of prescribed fires please check out this video.
As part of preparing the land for construction and beautification, staff removed invasive species from around the property, and new trees were planted. (Photos below)
The development process at Garrison Springs Community Forest includes:
- metal fencing
- parking lot
- solar panel with security upgrades
- new gate
Check out the new gate by Full Metal Customs: https://youtu.be/Q0TI1ewQsZE