Poplar Bluff Conservation Area

Driving Directions

From Poplar Bluff, take US 60 east 5 miles, then Route T north 2 miles, then left on Butler CR 553 0.5 miles to the area.


This is a forest area with cropland and a small wetlands. Facilities/features: picnic area, pavilion, archery range, permanent stream (Indian Creek), fishable pond (1.50 acres), and Poplar Bluff Forest Natural Area (80 acres).

About This Area

Poplar Bluff and Stephen J. Sun conservation areas are located in Butler County, two miles east of Poplar Bluff on U.S. Business 60, then 3.50 miles north on Route NN. Turn left on County Road 544 and follow it one mile west to the area parking lot. These two conservation areas comprise 1,637 acres in five tracts and include six-acre Carpenter Lake and the 80-acre Poplar Bluff Forest Natural Area. The University of Missouri acquired what is now Poplar Bluff Conservation Area under the Agriculture College Act of 1862. The Conservation Department purchased this 912-acre tract from the University in 1965. An additional 240 acres was purchased in 1995.

Stephen J. Sun Conservation Area consists of 485 acres. The Department acquired parts of this conservation area in 1988, thanks to a donation by the Sun family. Department funds were used to purchase the remainder of the lands.

These two conservation areas represent a unique contact zone of two major ecosystems- the Ozark highland and the coastal plain wetland. The hills of Poplar Bluff Conservation Area have soils of primarily Clarksville or Loring silt loams. The soils covering the fields of Stephen J. Sun Conservation Area are mainly Elk, Adler, and Calhoun silt loams. Upland tree species include hickory and black, white, and scarlet oak. Cherrybark oak, sweetgum, red maple, and sugarberry are the primary bottomland species.

Several endangered species and unusual plants inhabit both areas. On Stephen J. Sun Conservation Area both river otter and swamp rabbits have been observed. The Poplar Bluff Forest Natural Area provides an opportunity to experience a high quality bottomland forest with many large trees.

Carpenter Lake is an old oxbow lake, located at the contact zone between the Ozarks and the Mississippi lowlands.

General Information




Owned by MDC,Leased

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List. Designated an Important Bird Area by Audubon Missouri.  
Camping - Walk-in/Float-in/Backpack  Seasonal closures may apply. 
Fishing - Bass Fair population. Regulations differ between streams and impoundments. 
Fishing - Catfish Fair population. Pond #1 is stocked annually with Channel Catfish. 
Fishing - Crappie Fair population.  
Fishing - Sunfish Fair population.  
Hiking  No designated trails 
Hunting-Deer Fair population. Deer regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Hunting-Dove Fair population.  
Hunting-Quail Fair population.  
Hunting-Rabbit Fair population.  
Hunting-Squirrel Fair population.  
Hunting-Turkey Fair population. Turkey regulations are subject to annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey Booklet for current regulations.  
Trapping with Special Use Permit  By special use permit. 

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Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Other Poplar Bluff archery range  Archery Range with parking lot, pavilion, picnic tables. 
Parking Lot    

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Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Designated Natural Area Poplar Bluff Forest Natural Area 80.00 acres Bottomland Forest. For more information, visit natural areas.  
Fishing Lake or Pond Pond #1 1.00 acres  
Stream - Permanent Black River 1.00 miles  
Wildlife Watering Hole  2.00 acres  

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Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Forest and Woodland 1128.80  
Lakes/Ponds 1.50  
Total Area Acres:1130.35 

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Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
No Designated Trails

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Shooting Range General Information






1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset, unless otherwise posted

Click Shooting Ranges for more information.

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