Forests in the Ozarks are ancient: the dominance and density of their various arboreal and herbaceous species have fluctuated over time in relation to climatic change and cultural influences. This study examines the nature of the pre-European forest composition in the Ozarks through studies of geology and soils. General Land Office surveys, archeology, and dendrochronology. Examples and a case study on the Wedington Unit are drawn from the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest, where, in some areas, old-growth oak forests remain adjacent to former agricultural fields that are regenerating naturally. This paper also identifies forest management practices that aid in the maintenance of diverse old-growth ecosystems. From the Conclusions (p. 49)...'Fire scar records from trees indicate a mean fire return interval of 2.43 years during the late 1700s (R. Guyette. 2000. Notes on fire history at three sites in the Lower Atoka Hills adjacent to the Arkansas River. On file with School of Natural Resources, I-30 Agriculture Building, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211) (D.H. Jurney. 2002. Historic fire regime. 19 p. On file with: Ozark–St. Francis National Forests, 605 W. Main, Russellville, AR 72801). Based on Texas pollen studies (Bousman 1991), around 1,000 years ago the canopy cover was 20 percent. Today, the percentage of canopy cover has returned to the level of 8,000 years ago (40 percent).'