The Ozarks Research and Learning Center
The proposed Ozark Research and Learning Center (ORLC) is a collaborative undertaking between Buffalo National River, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, HTLN, and Missouri State University. This unique partnership unites the resources of the parks with the expertise of university and Heartland Network scientists to promote research and education about the Ozark region's natural and cultural resources. Focal themes of the center are: 1) wild Ozark rivers and their role in shaping the area's cultural history; 2) karst features of the Ozark Highlands; and 3) effects of global climate change in the Ozark Highlands.homepage for information about other NPS Research and Learning Centers.
National park units are unique places to conduct research, often containing the least impaired examples of native ecosystems in the area. Research focused on management questions is particularly useful to park managers and superintendents. National Park Service scientists and managers have prepared a preliminary list of research needs in support of park management and decision making.
Lodging and lab facilities at the parks, combined with the university’s field station, and laboratories on the Missouri State campus provide a network of support from rustic lodging to specialized lab equipment. The Gaddy House and the Powder Mill facilities, located within Buffalo National River and Ozark National Scenic Riverways respectively, in addition to Missouri State’s Bull Shoals Field Station are existing facilities able to accommodate operations of the ORLC. Buffalo National River’s Gaddy House, located along the Buffalo River in a rustic setting, was constructed in 1969. The structure has a dormitory size room upstairs and two bedrooms with bath. Downstairs is a bedroom, kitchen and living area capable of hosting up to 75 guests. The facility accommodates university researchers, regional schools, and field seminars with the local community and others.
OZAR’s Powder Mill Center, located on the Current River, has an apartment with two bedrooms, living room, bathroom, and kitchen. Attached is the old visitor center which will provide a visitor contact area, research display area, and work space for researchers.
Missouri State University’s Bull Shoals Field Station (BSFS) was established in 1999, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as a research and education facility for Missouri State University and visiting classes and researchers (http://www.bullshoals.missouristate.edu/). It is approximately 55 miles south of Springfield and located on the shores of Bull Shoals Lakes. Research and education programs are conducted on the adjacent Bull Shoals Lake, on the 2,000-acre restricted-access Drury Conservation Area, and on the 3,600-acre Mincy Conservation Area. Buff Shoals Field Station has two houses that can house 20 people, a classroom building, and a pavilion.
Buff Shoals Field Station can provide a variety of support for the Science and Learning Center. The small National Park Service facilities do not have housing available for researchers, therefore BSFS can provide housing for those individuals. The field station site can also provide facilities for National Park Service training and/or information sessions, for example, training sessions for educational outreach, seminars for regional university faculty/students to help in recruitment and retention of researchers in the parks, educational programs for the general public, etc.
The College of Natural and Applied Sciences and Missouri State University, provides access to more sophisticated equipment and lab space also (see http://www.cnas.missouristate.edu/ for an overview of the departments and programs of the college).