Mark Twain National Forest



After learning that the Mark Twain National Forest, encompassing 1.5 million acres in southern Missouri, planned to dispose of up to 150 structures, including farmsteads, fire towers, and ranger stations, due in part to a backlog of deferred maintenance and a small annual facilities budget, the National Trust engaged quickly and aggressively to ensure alternatives were fully considered prior to the removal of properties from federal ownership. Both the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office participated actively in Section 106 consultation with the National Trust on the development of a Programmatic Agreement for the realignment of historic buildings on the Mark Twain.  As a result of consultation, the Forest Service agreed to lower the number of structures slated for realignment to around seventy, comprising twenty-one National Register eligible or listed complexes.


Consultation also led to a commitment by the Forest Service to match National Trust grant funds to pay for a feasibility study investigating alternative uses for five historic properties. However, the National Trust remains concerned that the Facilities Master Plan (FMP) issued by the Forest Service in October 2005 does not fully consider the historic or cultural value of properties on the forest as required by Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act. In fact, the Forest Service omitted historic significance from the criteria that it used to evaluate administrative facilities in the FMP. To reflect its strong concern about the situation, the National Trust listed the historic structures on the Mark Twain National Forest as one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2007.

Since the historic structures in Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest were chosen as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2007, the Midwest Office and Mountains/Plains Office have worked with the Forest to find alternatives to demolition. As part of a Programmatic Agreement with the SHPO and the National Trust, the Mark Twain has contracted with a Forest Service Enterprise Team to complete assessments of five properties and create marketing materials, including solicitations and a website, to offer them for rehabilitation or sale. Along with our Statewide Partner, Missouri Preservation, the National Trust has provided feedback on the marketing materials, reached out to individuals and groups interested in the historic properties, and provided technical assistance to potential applicants. The National Trust worked with the Forest and partners to review the letters of interest, and several applicants have now been asked to develop full reuse proposals. 

One of those proposals is now a great success story.  A team from Rolla, Missouri, came back with an unusual proposal for the Fuchs House: 16 teams, each led by skilled professionals in the construction trade, would rehab the house at no cost to the forest, in exchange for use of the property for two weeks each year.  This is a great deal for both the volunteers and the forest, which recognized the Fuchs House’s historic significance but did not have the funds to rehab it.  The National Trust will continue to twork with the Mark Twain National Forest as they seek to find new uses for their other historic structures.

In the News

Historic mill, cabin in Mark Twain National Forest being repaired through Passport in Time program: Forest Service is looking for help to preserve two historic structures in Mark Twain National Forest


Mark Twain National Forest’s Fuchs House Restored Thanks to Unusual Partnership
Preservation Nation Blog Written by Jennifer Sandy on June 10, 2010
Volunteers from Rolla, Missouri, are rehabbing the Fuchs House in exchange for use of the property.  This creative arrangement allows the forest to restore one of their most unique properties while increasing ties to the community and providing income for maintenance through rental fees.

Ideas Wanted: Unique Opportunities for Creative Reuse Projects in the Mark Twain National Forest
Preservation Nation Blog Written by Jennifer Sandy on Jan. 11, 2010
The Mark Twain National Forest is partnering with Missouri’s State Historic Preservation Office, Missouri Preservation, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to seek alternative uses for five historic properties. 

Mark Twain National Forest Historic Buildings Alternative Use Study (Apr. 14, 2008)
The U.S. Forest Service Enterprise Unit's alternative use analysis of five historic properties on the Mark Twain National Forest, which received funding from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Check out what we did at Mark Twain National Forest Volunteer days!
The National Trust joined Forest Service staff, Passport in Time and Mennonite Church volunteers and staff from the Missouri Alliance for Preservation, at the Sinking Creek Lookout complex in Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest for a week of hands-on preservation work.