Ozark Outdoors

Visit Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Sept. 17 for free wagon tours and exhibits

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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, Sept. 17, at Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie near El Dorado Springs. Tallgrass prairie is a diverse ecosystem of native grasses, wildflowers, upland streams, insects and wildlife. Prairie Day will offer wagon tours of the prairie, wildflower walks and conservation exhibits.

A free Prairie Day event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, will offer wagon tours of the prairie, exhibits, wildflower walks and lunch concessions at the Wah'Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area near El Dorado Springs.

A free Prairie Day event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, will offer wagon tours of the prairie, exhibits, wildflower walks and lunch concessions at the Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area near El Dorado Springs.

Co-host for the event is The Nature Conservancy. Much of the Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area is owned by the Conservancy but managed by MDC in a partnership. The St. Clair County Cattlemen’s Association will provide food concessions. Representatives of the Osage Nation will discuss the tribe’s historic ties to the Upper Osage Grasslands.

MDC staff will discuss the role prairie plays today, whether it’s preserving the iconic grassland birds like the prairie chicken, conserving plant diversity, boosting wildlife habitat or providing a place to learn how conservative grazing can be used to improve wildlife habitat.

Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie and the nearby Taberville Prairie hold remnant flocks of prairie chickens, which are endangered in Missouri. But the key to those flocks surviving is the native grasses and wildflowers that provide food and good places to nest, raise broods, hide from predators and survive winter. The same warm-season grasses and forbs also can provide summer grazing forage or winter hay for livestock. Bobwhite quail and other ground-nesting birds also benefit from prairies or the use of native grasses and forbs in pastures.

Prairies are also simply beautiful to look at, either across the open horizons, or by observing the plant diversity during a hike. Prairies also harbor wildlife such as songbirds, deer and turkeys.

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 http://mdc.mo.gov.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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