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Missouri State Parks

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USA Parks
Southwest Region
Lester R Davis Memorial State Forest
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Picnic Table ©
It is always a great day for a picnic in the park.
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The Lester R Davis Memorial State Forest is a serene and captivating natural haven that encompasses approximately 8,000 acres of diverse landscape. This forest is a delightful combination of mature woodlands, open meadows, and picturesque streams that provide endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. With its scenic hiking trails, tranquil fishing spots, and abundant wildlife, the forest offers a peaceful escape where visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty of nature and treasure the solitude it provides.
History of the Area
Lester R. Davis Memorial State Forest, also known as Davis Forest, is named in honor of Lester R. Davis, a renowned conservationist and the first state forester of Missouri. The forest is located in southeastern Missouri, encompassing parts of Wayne, Dent, Phelps, and Iron counties.

The history of Davis State Forest dates back to the early 1930s when it was established as a demonstration area to teach sustainable forestry practices. During this time, Missouri's forests were suffering from over-harvesting, erosion, and other environmental issues. To address these concerns, Davis Forest was established to showcase proper forest management techniques.

Lester R. Davis played a crucial role in promoting sustainable forestry in Missouri. He served as the state's first forester from 1924 to 1953 and played a significant role in establishing the Missouri Department of Conservation. He championed the ideas of forest conservation and reforestation, focusing on sustainable practices to ensure the long-term health and productivity of Missouri's forests.

Under Davis's guidance, Davis State Forest became a living classroom for forestry students, landowners, and the public. It served as a model for sustainable forest management, showcasing various forestry techniques such as timber harvesting, wildlife management, and reforestation. Through these demonstrations, Davis aimed to educate and inspire people about the importance of responsible forestry.

Davis State Forest expanded in size to its current 8,161-acre area. It is known for its diverse vegetation, including oak, hickory, maple, and pine trees, and provides a natural habitat for various wildlife species, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The Lester R. Davis Memorial State Forest continues to serve its original purpose of educating and demonstrating responsible forest management practices. It highlights the legacy of Lester R. Davis and his contributions to conservation in Missouri, promoting the importance of sustainable forestry and the preservation of natural resources for future generations.
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1. Start by heading onto Interstate 44 and continue driving westbound.
2. Take exit 179B to merge onto MO:13 N toward Bolivar/Clinton.
3. Continue on MO:13 N for approximately 20 miles until you reach Collins, Missouri.
4. In Collins, turn left onto E Main St/MO:D Highway and drive for about half a mile.
5. Turn right onto S Maple St/MO:D Highway (signs may also indicate Route D) and continue straight for around two miles.

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Missouri State Parks