El Dorado Springs, Mo. – Outdoor skills and nature exhibits will be among the activities when the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) hosts a free Prairie Day event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, at Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie north of El Dorado Springs. Prairie ecology will be featured with wagon tours of the native grassland and guided hikes. But visitors can also try out activities such as target archery and throwing the atlatl dart.
Displays and presentations will showcase the role of fire in prairie ecology, aquatic species found in prairie streams, and the wildlife and wildflowers found in native grasslands. MDC staff and volunteers will help visitors use lightweight bows and arrows for target archery. They will instruct the proper methods for hurling an atlatl dart. The atlatl is a spear-like dart flung forward using a modified stick. It is an ancient hunting tool still used by primitive skills hunters who enjoy a challenge.
Burgers and brats will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. by Prairiebird Pastures. The beef was raised under the Audubon Conservation Ranching program, which helps producers implement management practices friendly to grassland birds.
Co-host for the event is The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Much of the Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area is owned by the Conservancy but managed by MDC in a partnership. Experts from the Missouri River Bird Observatory will help visitors identify and enjoy grassland bird species. Door prizes will be offered throughout the day. This event is for all ages and requires no registration.
Today, less than one-tenth of one-percent of the state’s original prairie remains in scattered remnant tracts. TNC and MDC properties at Wah’Kon-Tah preserve one of the state’s largest contiguous native grassland tracts. The prairie, and Taberville Prairie Conservation Area to the north, are cornerstones for the Upper Osage Grasslands.
MDC staff and the private Quail Forever conservation group assist private landowners in the Upper Osage Grasslands. The goal is to restore healthy grasslands and prairie streams alongside agriculture uses such as cattle grazing and crops.
For information about Prairie Day, call 417-876-5226. Information and a map for Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area is available at https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places/wahkon-tah-prairie. To learn about prairie in Missouri, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZxM.