land in 15 tracts across the state. Through constant and vigilant management—including invasive species control, tree removal and prescribed fire—the Foundation maintains a high level of biodiversity on prairies it owns. Several Foundation properties are managed by the Department, and several Department prairies, and those owned by other partners, including Kansas City Parks and Recreation, benefit from invasive species control provided by the Foundation’s prairie operations manager—one of the Foundation’s only two staff members.
In late 2010, the Foundation acquired its most recent tract, an 80-acre property next to its Coyne Prairie in Dade County. It has begun an ambitious restoration plan for the tract, which will enlarge the prairie landscape in the area, part of the Golden Grasslands Conservation Opportunity Area.
Grassroots Advocacy—for Grass Roots
In addition to conserving thousands of acres of prairie through land ownership and management, the Foundation has protected thousands more through its outreach, advocacy and education efforts. In the 1970s, the Foundation and other conservation groups successfully advocated for the establishment of Prairie State Park in Barton County, the first parcel of which was purchased in 1980. Today, at nearly 4,000 acres, the park is Missouri’s largest publicly owned prairie.
Emeritus board member Lowell Pugh, of Golden City, has fond memories of his decades long friendship with Don Christisen, the Foundation’s co-founder. “We were the first Missourians to talk with Katherine Ordway about prairie conservation,” said Lowell. In 1972, Pugh and Christisen escorted Ms. Ordway, the famous prairie philanthropist from the East Coast, from the Springfield airport to tour Barton County prairies. Shortly after her visit with Pugh and Christisen, Ms. Ordway provided funds for The Nature Conservancy to begin purchasing prairie tracts.
In 1998, the Missouri Prairie Foundation spearheaded the formation of the Grasslands Coalition—20 conservation groups and private landowners working together to pool resources and make a lasting impact on landscape-scale, viable native grasslands. The Coalition identified several “Prairie-Chicken Focus Areas” around the state as the best remaining locations to focus conservation efforts for prairie-chickens and other prairie species. These focus areas laid the groundwork for the establishment of grassland Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs) by the Missouri Department of Conservation, part of Missouri’s Comprehensive Wildlife Strategy.
“Our goal is to protect and restore additional blocks of prairie in grassland COAs,” said Stan Parrish, the Foundation’s current president. “We are eager to work with individual landowners, the Department of Conservation and any other