Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum) at Polk County Prairie. Photo: Bruce Schuette
Polk County Prairie
About Polk County PrairiE
On Nov. 23, 2020, MPF closed on one of three prairie acquisitions of 2020: a 40-acre original, unplowed prairie in Polk County. This newest MPF property is east of Hwy. 13 and south of Bolivar, MO. Funding for this acquisition came from an award to MPF administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. These two agencies are trustees of a Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) program to administer funds from a settlement with ASARCO, a lead mining and smelting company whose operations created damage over the last century while it operated in Jasper and Newton Counties.
This prairie and MPF’s La Petite Gemme Prairie (4.5 miles to the northwest) are the two remaining remnants of the historic “Three Mound (or Mile) Prairie” that stretched 12.5 miles from northwest to southeast in south-central Polk County. This swath of prairie followed the broad upland divide between the Little Sac River on the west and Pomme de Terre River to the east, averaged 1.5 to 2.5 miles in width and included where the town of Bolivar is today.
This new acquisition is a limestone/dolomite prairie—a rare natural community—with a prairie swale along the northern edge and many mima mounds. This prairie is unusual for Missouri in that it contains a number of glade species such as prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum), yellow coneflowers (Echinacea paradoxa), and Missouri coneflower (Rudbeckia missouriensis). In addition to these dry-soil plants, the prairie’s swale provides habitat for wetter-soil species such as bunchflower (Melanthium virginicum).
While future in-depth surveys of plants and animals at this prairie will add to species lists, initial visits have revealed that of the 82 plant species documented, 23 of them are restricted to remnant ecosystems and include American blue hearts (Buchnera americana), rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium), green milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora), prairie parsley (Polytaenia nuttalii), and porcupine grass (Stipa spartea). The average coefficient of conservatism of the listed species is 5.2, a value indicating a high level of ecological integrity.
Naming rights for this prairie are available for purchase, and help fund MPF’s prairie protection work. Please call 573-356-7828 to inquire.
From Hwy. 13 south of Bolivar, turn east on E 490th Road for almost 2 miles and then south on S 160th Road for 0.75 miles. The prairie will then be on the east side of the road. By GPS: N37 31 28.7544, W93 20 26.31 (in decimal degrees: 37.524654, -93.34064).
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.