Springfield Nature Center event highlights natural areas

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Missouri is known for its varying landscapes. Rich forests give way to grassy prairies in some parts of the state while gurgling streams meander in close proximity to arid desert-like glades in others. Throughout the state, patches of relatively undefiled habitat give modern-day Missourians glimpses of what our state’s landscapes looked like in pre-settlement times. Thanks to the Missouri Natural Areas Program, Missourians have a number of these ecosystem time portals to enjoy, some of which are much closer to home than many realize.

Join Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Natural Areas Coordinator Mike Leahy at the Springfield Nature Center on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 7-8 p.m. as he share his first-hand experiences with Missouri’s designated natural areas featured in his recently published book, “Discover Missouri Natural Areas – A Guide to 50 Great Places.”

Books will be available to purchase and to have autographed following this free program, which is suggested for ages 14-adult.

Begun in 1977, the state’s designated Natural Area program is a collaborative effort that includes MDC, Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and other state and federal organizations. The mission of this program is to identify and manage areas that are remnant examples of the natural character, diversity and ecology that comprised Missouri’s native landscape. Locations that have been designated as Natural Areas are permanently protected and are managed for the purpose of preserving their natural quality. There are currently more than 180 sites that have been designated as Missouri Natural Areas.

To register for Thursday’s program, call 417-888-4327.

Information about Missouri’s designated Natural Areas can be found at www.missouriconservation.org.