Source: US State of Missouri
El Dorado Springs, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will host a free Prairie Day event 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, at Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie near El Dorado Springs. Visitors will see a rare slice of both unplowed and restored tallgrass prairie. Prairie Day will offer wagon tours of the prairie, guided hikes, and conservation exhibits.
Co-host for the event is The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Much of the Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area is owned by the Conservancy but managed by MDC in a partnership. Lunch concessions will be offered on the grounds from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Prairiebird Pastures will be grilling hamburgers and brats made from beef raised in the Audubon Conservation Ranching program, which helps cattle producers implement forage practices friendly to grassland birds.
Prairie plants were originally found throughout the state and native grasslands dominated the hills, swales, and flats in much of northern and western Missouri. Today, less than one-tenth of one-percent of the state’s original prairie remains in scattered remnant tracts. TNC and MDC properties at Wah’Kon-Tah preserve one of the state’s largest contiguous native grassland tracts. The prairie, and Taberville Prairie Conservation Area to the north, are cornerstones for the Upper Osage Grasslands.
MDC staff partners with Quail Forever to assist private landowners in the Upper Osage Grasslands. The goal is to restore healthy grasslands and prairie streams alongside agriculture uses such as cattle grazing and crops.
Prairie Day visitors will get to see the autumn wildflowers and the native grasses at their growth peak. Experts will discuss fire’s role in prairie ecology, past and present. Experts from the Missouri River Bird Observatory will give presentations on grassland birds. Visitors can take guided wagon ride tours around the prairie and guided walks on the prairie to see birds and butterflies. Door prizes will be drawn throughout the day.
Prairies are beautiful to look at, whether gazing across open horizons or by peering closely at the diverse plants and insects. This event is for all ages and requires no registration. Although organized activities end at 4 p.m., visitors are welcome to stay and enjoy the prairie.
For information about Prairie Day, call 417-876-5226. Information and a map for Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area is available at https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/wahkon-tah-prairie. To learn about prairie in Missouri, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZxM.