Saving Rare Prairies: MPF’s Edgar W. Schmidt Sand Prairie

September 21, 2023 | Blog

collage of before and after tree clearing and plants found at Edgar Schmidt Prairie

Protecting and restoring rare, imperiled prairie habitats, like the sand savanna at MPF’s Edgar W. Schmidt Sand Prairie, is at the core of our mission. This important endeavor involves documenting the history of a site, inventorying its plant and animal communities, and developing and executing a management plan.

Purchased in early June 2021, the 55-acre Scott County property near Benton is one of only two sand prairies (Southeastern Missouri Subtype) in the Missouri Natural Heritage Database. The property also includes rare sand savanna and sand swale natural communities.

In 2022, the Institute of Botanical Training conducted a floristic inventory of Edgar W. Schmidt Sand Prairie, and the full report cites 11 plant species of conservation concern, including five critically imperiled species, one globally vulnerable species—creeping St. John’s Wort (Hypericum adpressum)—and one new discovery (Dichanthelium inflatum).

This inventory helps guide MPF’s restoration and management at the site. For example, during tree thinning this spring to restore the savanna, desirable species like sand hickory (Carya pallida))—ranked as imperiled/vulnerable in Missouri—were left untouched. Subsequent staff monitoring of the site—and even the work of citizen scientists—will continue to inform MPF’s stewardship of the site. To get involved, just take your smartphone along when you visit the Edgar W. Schmidt Sand Prairie and submit your observations to the iNaturalist project. Read more about our sand prairie protection efforts in this article from Missouri Prairie Journal’s 2023 summer issue.

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