This watershed management plan is focused on the Little Sac River watershed. Creating a watershed management plan is a complicated and time-consuming task! It takes months of planning and research but is well worth the effort. A watershed management plan is a living document, a vision for protecting and restoring the watershed and a plan for carrying it out. The process of watershed planning can have benefits beyond the road map that is created-it can help build a sense of community by bringing people together with different backgrounds and perspectives to define the future of their area, by helping identify the community’s cultural, historical and natural resources, and by educating the public about their watershed and the issues it faces.  

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 Watershed Characteristics-Little Sac River

Project Location, Size and Geographical Area
The Little Sac River begins at the north edge of Springfield and Strafford to form Fellows and McDaniel Lakes. On its journey north into Stockton Lake, the Little Sac’s 41.5 mile channel gains flow through springs and its major tributaries; Slagle Creek, North Dry Sac, South Dry Sac and Asher Creek. The 390 square mile watershed encompasses the towns of Willard, Walnut Grove, and Morrisville. The watershed changes from very urbanized/high density population to rural agricultural land use ane includes recreational areas surrounding the lakes.  

 Soils, Climate and Geologic Characteristics
The Little Sac watershed originates in Eldon-Pembroke, Pearidge-Wilderness-Goss-Pembroke, and Needleye-Viraton-Wilderness soil associations. It then flows through Peridge-Wilderness-Goss-Pembroke soils. The little_sac_river200.jpglower reach flows through Hartville-Ashton-Cedargap-Nolin bottomland soils until it is inundated by Stockton Reservoir. Two impoundments near the headwaters of the Little Sac watershed (Fellows Lake and McDaniel Lake) cause a rapid descent to Hartville-Ashton-Cedargap-Nolin bottomland soils. In general, the soils are moderately deep to very deep, moderately well drained to well drained, and medium to fine textured.
The watershed is characterized by a temperate climate with warm, humid summers and cool, wet winters. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operate a climatoligical station at the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport. The average temperature range as measured at the airport is 67 degrees to 90 degress Fahrenheit during the summer and 20 degress to 42 degress Fahrenheit during the winter. The annual precipitation is between 40-42 inches of raninfall and 17 inches of snowfall in Springfield. The annual runoff from precipitation ranges from 8-10 inches.     
Elevations in the watershed range from 270 m (885 ft) at the watershed outlet to 455 m (1490 ft) at the southeastern boundary. The major part of the watershed consists of rolling plains. On the east side, broad upland areas divide the Little Sac watershed from Pomme de Terre watershed.

Hydrologic Setting  
The Ozarks, including the lower Little Sac River watershed, are well known for their karst geology characterized by numerous sinkholes, caves, bedrock fractures, and streams. The karst developments that are typical of the Springfield plateau aquifer are mostly located south and east of the Little Sac River watershed.
Two aquifers lie under the Little Sac River watershed. The Ozark aquifer is a high-yielding, deep confined aquifer of generally very good quality. It provides for municipal, agricultural, and industrial water. The Springfield plateau aquifer is an unconfined, shallow aquifer located about 200 ft below the ground surface that is recharged by precipitation. The aquifer if generally of good quality and was a water supply resource until the mid-1950’s. Since then, the contamination of the aquifer around Springfield has prompted strict regulations for wells. Most of the domestic water is now pumped from the deep Ozark aquifer but the Springfield aquifer still provides agricultural and industrial water.

Land Use     
The Little Sac River watershed is located in the Ozark Border Area, Major Land Resource Area (MRLA) 116B. This area is part of the northeast and central farming forest region. The Ozark Border MLRA is comprised of approximately 35% forest, 25% pasture; mainly of introduced grasses and legumes, and 40% cropland. Feed grains and hay are the main crops. Summer droughts and steep slopes limit the use of the land for crop production. Shallow wells, small creeks, or springs are often used for livestock needs. Deep wells supply drinking water and water for high volume uses. This area supports oak-hickory forests. The grassland supports a combination of introduced and native tall-prairie grasses consisting mainly of indian grass, little bluestem, big bluestem, and switch grass. Introduced grasses include fescue, annual crab grasses, and Kentucky bluegrass. The pastures are mostly fescue grass over-seeded with red clover.The watershed consists mostly of grassland (67%) and forests (30%). The grassland designation includes hay, pasture and land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Hay and CRP land, which are sometimes considered cropland, behave more like grassland in terms of runoff, erosion and nutrient overloads and have been left in this class. Urban areas are found in 2.4% of the watershed. This is the north part of Springfield. A high contamination potential is due to the high urban population density and the amount of impervious surfaces. Springfield is about 25% impervious on average draining to this watershed. New developments have been required to use extended detention basins with approximately 40 hours of retention as well as grass buffer strips and grass channels since the Water Quality Protection Policy passed in 1999.

Related Projects and Best Management Practices (BMP’s)    
Within the watershed BMP’s and other water quality improvement projects have been installed and utilized. The Little Sac Restoration Project 319 Grant enabled the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks to carry out three stream bank stabilization projects (including on adjacent of the Fulbright Landfill on the South Dry Sac), riparian exclusions on two private landowners’ property, five management intensive grazing systmes, six alternative watering systems, and one animal waste containment system.     

Reference Cited

  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Little Sac River Watershed, Fecal Coliform Total Maximum Daily Load FAPRI_UMC Report #11-06 June 2006
  • United States Geological Survey. Water Quality in the Little Sac River Basin near Springfield, Missouri, 1999-2001. Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-415
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2002. Land Resource Regions and Major Land Resource Areas of the United States. Agriculture Handbook 296. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C
  • Missouri Department of Conservation. Sac River Watershed Inventory and Assessment.
  • U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey URL: http//>
  • Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. Little Sac Watershed Restoration Project Final Report. 2005