“Prairie Days” activities planned for Harrison County’s Dunn Ranch, final weekend of June

Northwest Missouri’s grassland heritage will be celebrated at Prairie Days June 24-25 at Dunn Ranch in Harrison County. Bison, butterflies, birds and native plants that support them will be on display. Experts will interpret prairie ecology at a free event sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), The Nature Conservancy, and the Missouri Prairie Foundation. No registration is required and all ages are welcome for hikes, tours and exhibits.

A social and mixer will be held 9 to 11 p.m. at the Dunn Ranch Prairie headquarters on Friday, June 24. The movie “Green Fire,” a documentary about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold, will be shown. The headquarters is at 16970 West 150th St., Hatfield, Mo. This rural address is west of Eagleville and can be accessed off Interstate 35 via Route M.

Prairie Days’ main events begin on Saturday, June 25. The kickoff is a guided bird hike 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. at MDC’s Pawnee Prairie Natural Area. This prairie is three miles northwest of Dunn Ranch and is accessed off South 140th Avenue, south of Hatfield. Visitors can walk on unplowed prairie remnants with diverse wildflowers, warm-season grasses and birds, as well as restored native grassland.

At Dunn Ranch, activities begin at 8 a.m. with bison tours, prairie plant identification, grazing and nutrition sessions, and prairie ecology topics such as pollinator insects, mammals, amphibians and headwater streams. Visitors can view prairie tracts in bloom with wildflowers. Experts will discuss how water, plants and creatures interweave a prairie’s richly productive life cycles. The Conservancy utilizes a bison herd on the ranch in forage management. But other species contribute to the prairie’s colorful abundance, too.

Pawnee Prairie and Dunn Ranch Prairie are part of a broader public and private partnership to enhance prairie species in the Grand River Grasslands. The effort extends north into Iowa with programs such as habitat management to boost prairie chickens, which are endangered in Missouri and Iowa.

For more information on Prairie Days, call the MDC Northwest Regional Office at 816-271-3100. Concessions will be available onsite. No registration is required for the free activities.

Information and a map for Pawnee Prairie Natural Area are available at http://on.mo.gov/1KOa8Xv. To learn about Missouri prairies, visit http://mdc.mo.gov.  To learn about Dunn Ranch Prairie, visit http://bit.ly/1ellp2i.