Missouri’s rich native grassland heritage will be celebrated at a free Prairie Days event Sept. 15 and 16 at Dunn Ranch Prairie and Pawnee Prairie Natural Area.
The Missouri Department of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, and other conservation partners are hosts for this special event in Harrison County. Visitors can enjoy the early autumn wildflowers, native grasses, bison tours, and experts discussing prairie ecology, from butterflies to birds such as prairie chickens.
Prairie Days will kick off on Friday, Sept. 15, with 7 p.m. social gathering at TNC’s Dunn Ranch headquarters, 16970 W. 150th St., Hatfield, Mo. The headquarters is west of Eagleville, Mo. Biologists will talk about prairie history, grassland management and projects such as prairie chicken restoration. A movie will be shown at dusk, “Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild.”
On Saturday, Sept. 16, the day will begin 7 to 8:30 a.m. with birding hikes at MDC’s Pawnee Prairie Natural Area. Participants should bring their own binoculars, cameras and field guides.
Activities will shift to The Nature Conservancy’s Dunn Ranch starting at 9 a.m. Tours of the prairie will be offered and will feature a ride on a tour wagon to see TNC’s bison herd. TNC staff will talk about the herd’s role in prairie ecology. Educational conservation sessions will be offered including plant identification, grazing nutrition, rare prairie species, pollinators, reptiles and amphibians, fire ecology, and mammals of the prairie.
Camping will be available at Dunn Ranch without hookups, or visitors can camp at Harrison County Lake with some hookups and primitive sites. Motel lodging is available in Eagleville and Bethany. A local non-profit group will operate a food concession. Booths or demonstrations will be offered by Missouri Prairie Foundation, Missouri Master Naturalists, and other prairie advocates.
Prairie Days will also highlight the conservation efforts underway in the Grand River Grasslands, a partnership between MDC, TNC, Iowa conservation agencies, private landowners, and private, non-profit groups. MDC’s Pawnee Prairie and TNC’s Dunn Ranch offer high quality habitat in the heart of the Grand River Grasslands. MDC and partners are working to restore a functional grassland ecosystem over a broad geography that supports both production agriculture and nature. The goals include restoring Missouri’s endangered prairie chickens.
For more information about Dunn Ranch, visit bit.ly/2vp6agW
For more information about Prairie Day’s, call 816-271-3100