Yellow crownbeard (Verbesina helianthoides) and Carolina larkspur (Delphinium carolinianum) on a mima mount at Carver Prairie. Photo: Bruce Schuette.
About Carver Prairie
Carver Prairie is a 163-acre tract in Newton County that was acquired by MPF in December 2015 with funding from a 2013 award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Award funds were made available as a result of a Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) settlement with ASARCO, a lead mining and smelting company whose operations created environmental damage while it operated in Jasper and Newton Counties over the last century.
The prairie is named after Dr. George Washington Carver, who was born into slavery on a farm in the vicinity, in or about 1864, and spent his childhood here. The prairie and open woodlands were undoubtedly an inspiration to the young boy who overcame a mountain of obstacles—that included not only being a slave, but also being orphaned at a young age and subjected to racial prejudice—to become a prominent and world-renowned scientist and botanist, as well as an educator and humanitarian. The George Washington Carver National Monument is located 2.5 miles to the southeast.
This property includes 65 acres of original, unplowed prairie adjacent to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC’s) Diamond Grove Prairie. The original prairie at Carver is dominated by prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), which is characteristic of many of the surviving prairies in the area, locally referred to as dropseed prairies. Carver Prairie also includes 26 acres that MPF has reconstructed as a prairie planting, using seed gathered in the remnant and from MPF’s nearby Noah Brown’s Prairie. This multi-year effort was completed in 2020, although additional appropriate plant species may be seeded to the area in the future. Carver Prairie also includes 69 acres of savanna/woodland along the original, presettlement woodland-prairie interface. MPF is thinning and restoring the woodland via prescribed burning and selective tree removal.
Carver Prairie supports 206 native plant species with an average CC value of 4.54 and 36 conservative species. A botanical survey of Carver in 2016 resulted in two new state records: bushy bluestem (Andropogon hirsutior) and narrowleaf primrose (Ludwigia linearis). Four species of conservation concern are known from Carver Prairie—Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia caespitosa var. caespitosa), Oklahoma grass pink orchid (Calapogon oklahomensis), the regal fritillary butterfly, and a prairie-specialist moth (Dichagyris reliqua) that is listed as imperiled in Missouri.
MPF offers a mentored turkey hunt at Carver Prairie in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation the first weekend of April. Hunting is not allowed at this site.
2019 Missouri River Bird Observatory Breeding Bird Surveys on MPF Properties (includes Carver Prairie)
Carver Prairie is in Newton County on Lark Road, about 5 miles southeast of Joplin. From the intersection of I-44 and south I-49, drive 1/2 mile south on I-49 and take the 32nd St (also known as Missouri FF) exit. Drive east on 32nd St about 2 1/4 miles, take a right onto Lark Rd, and travel south about 2 1/2 miles. Carver Prairie is directly across the road from MDC’s Diamond Grove Prairie on Lark Rd. Alternatively, from the intersection of I-44 and north I-49/Hwy 59 south, drive 2 miles south on Highway 59, then take a right to travel west on 32nd St (FF) for 4 miles to reach Lark Rd. Continue about 2 1/2 miles south. By GPS, N37 0.954 W94 23.337 (in decimal degrees, 37.01591 -94.38894).
A Missouri Bicentennial Project: Protection & Restoration of MPF’s 400-acre Lordi Marker Prairie
An extraordinary $1 million lead gift from Susan Lordi Marker and her husband Dennis Marker, along with other generous gifts and financial backing from MPF, made this new MPF acquisition possible. Your gift of any amount—to be matched up to $25,000 from an additional gift from the Markers—will help us raise $50,000 in 2021 restricted to this project, which includes acquisition, restoration, and stewardship of this remarkable 400-acre property.