Opened May, 2018
The Ozark Land Trust’s Schulze Nature Preserve (SNP) is a forested, hillside 22.67 acre parcel within the city limits of Washington, Missouri that conserves a portion of what was once the 200 acre Schulze family farm. Situated in a developing landscape, the topography, flora, and history of an earlier time are set aside on this property which OLT has owned since 2000. Today visitors to the SNP can experience woods that were once as essential a part of a Missouri farm as any field or barn – and that still play just as essential a role in providing ecological benefits to an urbanizing region.
The wine country of the Missouri Valley may by defined in art and print by its rich vineyards and fields, but uncultivated woodlands are an equally definitive part of this landscape. Characterized by rolling hills, rich soils, towering, diverse stands of trees, and narrow draws carrying ephemeral waters into Missouri River-feeding creeks and streams, all of what defines this region’s forests are found at the SNP. Within the boundaries of this relatively small property one can experience each of these attributes that make the forests of the Missouri Valley special.
Entering the woods from the trailhead one will find a folded, rolling landscape crossed by narrow, deep cuts through rich loess soil, all leading into two intersecting valleys. As topography descends from 549 feet to 505 feet above sea level, the valleys flow to the beginning of the 100-year floodplain. The woods resting upon this land contain a rich cross-section of Missouri tree species: white oak, red oak, black oak, shagbark hickory, black walnut, black cherry, hackberry, elm, ash, Kentucky coffee tree, mulberry, sycamore, pawpaw, and sassafras, as well as others, are all found here.
Equally as important as what is conserved at the Schulze Nature Preserve is what this landscape still actively does. Surrounded by industrial, residential, and agricultural development, the SNP is a dynamic component of green infrastructure. The water that flows off of the land surrounding the property is slowed by the natural, curving watercourses, allowed to cool under the tree canopy, and to percolate into the water table before the remainder flows downstream. Air that blows through the mature forest is not only cleaned through the respiration of the trees, but also cooled through their transpiration.
And, of course, its serves as a haven for the fauna that make an ecosystem complete. On any given day you can find box turtles crossing the trail, crawfish in the waterways, deer within the draws, turkey on the ridgelines, and woodpeckers in the trees.
In order to provide access to the SNP, a 1.2 mile trail system consisting of two connected loops has been designed for the site that passes important topographical and hydrological features, different forest structure types, impressive specimen trees, as well as historical remnants of the property’s days as a farm. While intended to reach the greatest amount of the property, the trail is also designed to have a minimum impact on the landscape.
The Schulze Nature Preserve is located at 370 M.E. Frick Drive, Washington, MO.
When coming from the east on Highway 100, turn right onto Bluff Road at the signal (left if you are coming from the west) on the western edge of Washington. A short distance will bring you to a split in the road where it meets Westlink Drive at the beginning of an industrial park. Turn to the left (this will still be Bluff Road even though you will be turning), go up the hill, and then turn at the first road on the right: M.E. Frick Drive. (You will see Frick’s Quality Meats on your right.) Take this road a short distance up a hill, and there will be an entrance road for Frick’s Quality Meats straight ahead when M.E. Frick Drive turns to the left. Take this road straight to the bottom of the hill where the pavement ends. The last gravel parking spaces are part of the preserve.