Highlights of Missouri Prairie Foundation Accomplishments in 2018
With an active board, Grow Native! committee, other valued volunteers, a staff of only four working in the field and in home offices, and gifts from supporters like you—so far this year the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) has completed an incredible amount of work, including these highlights we want to share with you:
MPF owns and manages some of Missouri’s most biologically diverse prairies—21 properties totaling more than 3,300 acres, and we continue to learn more about them every year. Just this summer, botanists monitored plants at MPF’s 160-acre Penn-Sylvania Prairie—home to 289 documented native plant species—and found an astonishing 46 native plant species in a ¼-meter square plot. The stated record holder at this scale is a grassland in the Czech Republic, with 44 species. It appears that MPF’s Penn-Sylvania Prairie has set a new world record! Our stewardship sustains the stunning biodiversity and natural integrity of our prairies.
• Entered into a contract in Nov. 2018 to purchase an original 40-acre prairie in Lawrence County, near a prairie owned by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
• Controlled invasive species over 20 prairies; counting multiple passes throughout the summer, this totals 6,175 acres. Conducted prescribed burns on 772 acres on nine MPF prairies, as well as the Ozark Regional Land Trust’s Woods Prairie and a private prairie in Pettis County. MPF also carried out prairie management services via grant funds or agreements on several prairies owned by The Nature Conservancy and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
• Collected seed from MPF prairies and carried out extensive multi-year restoration projects at adjacent land owned by MPF, funded in part by the Robert J. Trulaske, Jr. Family Foundation: 88 acres at Pleasant Run Creek Prairie and 50 acres at Stilwell Prairie in Vernon County, 18 acres at Snowball Hill Prairie in Cass County, and 12 acres at Carver Prairie in Newton County.
• Gave away more than 3,770 native milkweed and nectar plants to more than 40 groups/events to benefit monarch butterflies.
• Funded bird surveys at MPF’s Schwartz, Coyne, Penn-Sylvania Prairies and MPF’s Welsch Tract, and botanical surveys of MPF’s Snowball Hill, Gayfeather, Coyne, and Penn-Sylvania Prairies, thanks to support from the Delta Foundation.
• Carried out extensive Grow Native! programming with workshops and native plant tours held in Godfrey, East Alton, Granite City, and Belleville, IL; and Maryville, Osage Beach, and Springfield, MO; sold more than 275,000 Grow Native! tags to help plant producers sell natives in the market place; distributed nearly 25,000 copies of the 2018 Grow Native! Resource Guide at outlets in Missouri and elsewhere in the lower Midwest; produced monthly articles for gardening publications and Top Ten natives lists; organized a successful Grow Native! professional member conference; cared for Grow Native! gardens at the Missouri State Fairgrounds; produced native plant garden signs available to the public; and much more.
• Organized quarterly meetings of the Missouri Invasive Plant Task (MoIP), chaired by MPF’s Executive Director and comprised of representatives from federal and state agencies, conservation groups, ecological contractors, the horticulture industry and academia. MoIP, a resource of MPF’s Grow Native! program, organized a callery/bradford pear field event in April to call attention to the invasive nature of this non-native tree; developed a Stop the Spread Pledge to encourage campuses, municipalities, and other entities to plan and budget for long-term invasives control; and worked on other initiatives to advance early detection and control of invasive plants statewide.
• Awarded Prairie Garden grants to Frankford Elementary, Lake Bloomers Garden Club, Love the Lou, St. Louis Catholic Academy, and Friends of Jefferson City Community Garden.
• Organized numerous events including the 9th Annual Prairie BioBlitz, 3rd Annual Prairie School, and Prairie Biodiversity Monitoring Workshop for professionals at MPF’s Pleasant Run Creek Prairie; prairie hikes; and the MPF Annual Dinner in Columbia, featuring Steven Apfelbaum, presenting Protecting and Restoring Grasslands for the Health of the Planet.
• Produced three issues of the Missouri Prairie Journal sent to members, elected officials, schools, teachers, landowners, and conservation leaders, with articles by Doug Ladd on prairie origins, guides to prairie reconstruction and grassland invasive species control by MPF’s Director of Prairie Management Jerod Huebner, and much other fascinating and useful content.
• Staff and board members gave presentations on prairie and native plants to many groups including Kansas City Gardeners Connect Conference, MO/KS American Planners Association Conference, Forrest Keeling Celebration of Spring & Native Biodiversity, garden clubs, and other groups. MPF organized numerous native plant sales and also provided educational materials/booths at the St. Louis and Warrensburg Earth Days, Trial of Bush Honeysuckle educational event in St. Louis, Kansas City Native Plant Initiative events, Western Landscape & Nursery Association conference, St. Louis Zoo Pollinator Dinner, Conservation Day at the Capitol, and many other locations.
Ecologists rank temperate grasslands—which include Missouri’s tallgrass prairies—as the least conserved, most threatened major terrestrial habitat type on earth. Of Missouri’s original 15 million acres of prairie, we now know that fewer than 60,000 acres of high quality scattered remnants exist. Prairie protection efforts in Missouri, therefore, are not only crucial to preserving our state’s natural heritage, but also are highly significant to national and even global conservation work. MPF is the only organization in the state whose land conservation efforts are dedicated exclusively to prairie and other native grasslands. In 2019, we will continue our award-winning conservation work.
We greatly appreciate your support, which funds our on-the-ground prairie protection, prairie outreach and education, Grow Native! program, and invasive species control advocacy. We cannot conserve prairies or promote native plants without you. We invite you to make a tax-deductible donation now to help support our work.