Places to Go: Niawathe Prairie Conservation Area

By Larry Archer | June 1, 2021
From Missouri Conservationist: June 2021
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Birds, blooms, and butterflies await

When visiting Niawathe Prairie Conservation Area (CA), be prepared for a straight-B experience: birds, blooms, and butterflies.

Located on 320 acres in Dade County northwest of Springfield, Niawathe Prairie CA is 100 percent remnant prairie, meaning that it’s still in presettlement condition, said Wildlife Management Biologist Kyle Hedges, who manages the area.

“This is native remnant prairie, stuff that God put here 10,000 years ago,” Hedges said.

As remnant prairie, the area is covered in native wildflowers, many of which are blooming in June and July, he said.

“There’ll be some really big patches of purple coneflower,” he said. “For sure there’s some huge — I mean, several acres — of liatris, prairie blazing star, that’ll be blooming all at the same time. Just acres of purple sometimes, especially in the burn unit.”

Roughly a third of the area is treated with prescribed fire annually. Those areas typically respond the following year with the most color. And with the blooms come the grassland species of birds and pollinators that rely on prairie flora for food and shelter. Henslow’s sparrows, dicksissel, field sparrows, and Bell’s vireos are common.

“It’s the kind of place experienced birders do well,” he said.

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Photography Editor - Cliff White

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler