While the Ozarks are known for forests, but visitors to the highland region also will find open, desert-like areas between trees that contain a special combination of rare plants and animals found in few other places.
The areas, called glades, are hot and dry places with thin soils. To a visitor, the rocky appearance of glades make them look like an old road that has been overtaken by tall grasses. They're defined by the type of rocks that lie underneath, which in Missouri are largely limestone and dolomite. Glades were once more common in Missouri's Ozarks, but since they need to be burned to exist, the areas have disappeared over the last century as forest managers sought to suppress fires.
Scientists are conducting controlled fires at the Shaw Nature Reserve to understand how to best conserve them.