Early spring wildflowers at MPF’s Noah Brown’s Prairie are followed by impressive displays of Barbara’s buttons later in the season. Photo: Bruce Schuette
Noah Brown’s Prairie
About Noah Brown’s Prairie
MPF acquired Noah Brown’s Prairie in 2017. It is about 15 miles southeast from the center of Joplin. This property includes a 19-acre original, unplowed prairie and 40 adjacent, degraded acres that MPF is currently reconstructing. This acquisition was a partial donation from the family members of Noah Brown and a partial purchase, made possible with Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) funding awarded to the Missouri Prairie Foundation in 2013. NRDAR award funds, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, were made available as a result of a 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.
Noah Brown purchased two 80-acre parcels of land around 1965, including the prairie. At that time the remains of an older house could be seen to the east, with a hand-dug well downhill from it. Noah’s son Curt remembers many summers of collecting square hay bales from the prairie – “hot and sweaty work” – but the prairie was a reliable producer of hay that could be cut at any time in the growing season and required no added fertilizer. Fires, both intentional and unintentional, were occasionally applied to the prairie.
Noah Brown recognized the beauty and value of the vanishing prairie ecosystem and preserved and maintained this 19-acre parcel of native prairie for decades. It was Noah Brown’s wish that after his death this remnant prairie on his land be preserved, and the Missouri Prairie Foundation was fortunate to acquire it in 2017 to ensure its protection in perpetuity.
Noah Brown’s Prairie is a dry-mesic chert prairie and supports at least 178 native plant species with an average native CC of 4.84, including 43 conservative species. Three species of conservation concern—Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia caespitosa), Oklahoma grass pink orchid (Calapogon oklahomensis), and Kansas arrowhead (Sagittaria ambigua)—occur here. Another notable plant species is Tharp’s spiderwort (Tradescantia tharpii). A prairie-specialist, state-listed moth and (Dichagyris reliqua) has been documented here. Scissor-tailed flycatchers, eastern kingbirds, grasshopper sparrows, and Bell’s vireo have been documented here, as have narrow-mouthed toads.
Noah Brown’s Prairie is part of the historical Diamond Grove Prairie—which was 14 miles long and as much as 5 miles wide—and is five miles east-northeast of MPF’s Carver Prairie and MDC’s Diamond Grove Conservation Area and Natural Area.
2022 Summary Report of Pollinator Surveys within Carver, Noah Brown’s and Schuette Prairies by Environmental Solutions & Innovations, Inc.
2017 Institute of Botanical Training Floristic Integrity Report (includes Noah Brown’s Prairie)
Noah Brown’s Prairie is in Newton County on Panda Road, about 15 miles southeast of Joplin. From the intersection of I-44 and north I-49/Hwy 59 south, drive 3 miles south on Missouri Route 59, then turn left (east) onto Aspen Road. Drive 1 mile and then turn right (south) onto Panda Road. Drive about 0.6 miles south and park on the side of the road. The prairie is on the east side of the road. By GPS, N37 2.005 W94 17.763 (in decimal degrees, 37.033431 -94.296046).