Wednesday, June 3, 2015

MDC to co-host Prairie Days June 26 & 27 at Dunn Ranch

Free event showcases grasslands with bison, birds, wildflowers and native grasses


Eagleville, Mo. – A free Prairie Days event on June 26 and 27 will celebrate Missouri’s rich grassland heritage at Dunn Ranch Prairie and Pawnee Prairie Natural Area in Harrison County. Sponsors are the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and other conservation partners. Visitors can enjoy grassland birds and butterflies, wildflowers blooming on remnant prairies, and bison grazing on native grasses. Experts will discuss conservation efforts for species such as prairie chickens and the value of upland streams with fish such as the endangered Topeka shiner minnow.
   

Prairie Days will kick off on Friday, June 26, with an 8 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. Movies about prairie will be shown at dusk including “Blooming Secrets” and “Missouri’s Tallgrass Prairie: An American Original.”
   On Saturday, June 27, the day will begin 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. with birding hikes at MDC’s Pawnee Prairie Natural Area. Participants should bring their own binoculars, cameras and field guides. This prairie is rich in native wildflowers and grassland birds.
   Activities will shift to Dunn Ranch morning and afternoon. A highlight will be tours of TNC’s bison herd and discussions about their role in prairie ecology. Educational conservation sessions will be offered including plant identification, grazing nutrition, prairie headwaters, 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 River Bird Observatory, Pure Air Natives, Inc., Missouri Master Naturalists and Hamilton Native Outpost.
   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. An overview is available at http://mdc.mo.gov/conmag/2010/10-0/grand-river-grasslands.
   For more information about Prairie Days, visit http://mdc.mo.gov/NWprairiedays, or call T.J. Peacher, MDC conservation education supervisor, at 816-271-3100.
    Information about Pawnee Prairie and maps are available at http://on.mo.gov/1LlXs50. Dunn Ranch information is at http://bit.ly/1ellp2i.