The Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF), a 55-year-old nationally accredited land trust, is part of a coalition of entities committed to developing projects, programs, and events that commemorate Missouri’s 200 years of statehood this year. In a salute to Missouri’s Bicentennial, MPF will begin restoration and stewardship of 400 acres in Pettis County.
In late December 2020, MPF closed on the 400-acre tract, named Lordi Marker Prairie, thanks to an extraordinary $1 million lead gift from Susan Lordi Marker and her husband Dennis Marker, gifts from other supporters, and financial backing from MPF.
Lordi Marker Prairie links two MPF properties—the 40-acre Friendly Prairie, the organization’s first acquisition in 1969; and the 80-acre Drovers’ Prairie, purchased in 1981—creating 520 acres of prairie and grassland habitat just 14 miles south of Sedalia, MO and 100 miles southeast of Kansas City, MO. Lordi Marker Prairie is within a Missouri Conservation Opportunity Area and an Audubon Important Bird Area—a key region for landscape-scale prairie and native grassland conservation.
Until the time of Missouri statehood in 1821, 73% of Pettis County—or more than 317,400 acres—was prairie. Nearly all the original, unplowed prairie in Pettis County and throughout Missouri is gone today, with the land broken by sprawl, row crops, and other development. Lordi Marker Prairie is a wonderful opportunity in historic Osage Plains prairie country to protect and restore 400 hundred acres of land for present and future generations to enjoy. This prairie, like all MPF properties, is open to the public.
MPF’s planned, multi-year restoration work at this property includes removal of encroaching trees from approximately 100 acres of unplowed, remnant prairie, conversion of tall fescue to native prairie plantings, restoration of a riparian corridor, and creation of ephemeral wetland habitat to support grassland amphibians and migrating shorebirds. MPF is also planning to establish wildflower plots on a portion of the property to provide seeds for restoration efforts throughout the Conservation Opportunity Area. MPF may also establish native pastures to demonstrate conservation grazing.
To help pay for these multi-year projects, MPF’s 2021 fundraising goal is $50,000. Gifts of any amount—to be matched up to $25,000 with an additional gift from the Markers—will be restricted to this project, which includes acquisition cost, restoration, and stewardship of this remarkable property.
“The Missouri Prairie Foundation invites prairie supporters to contribute to this special project that honors Missouri’s Bicentennial,” said MPF President David Young. “Tax-deductible gifts of any amount will support this historic project that will provide habitat for grassland birds, pollinators, and other grassland-dependent species; contribute to healthy streams; provide carbon storage—and pay tribute to Missouri’s historic prairie landscapes to benefit present and future Missourians.”
To learn more, and to make a donation, visit https://moprairie.org/new-lordi-marker-prairie/.
The Missouri Prairie Foundation is a 55-year-old nationally accredited land trust that owns and manages original prairies, reconstructs prairie habitat, runs the 21-year-old Grow Native! program, and administers the Missouri Invasive Plant Task Force. To learn more about its conservation work and educational programming, visit www.moprairie.org or www.grownative.org, or call 888-843-6739.
Photo: Walter Moser