Prairies

Tucker Prairie sunset

Missouri’s native treeless grasslands are called prairies, and they host a breathtaking variety of plants and animals. There are very few prairies left, although before European settlement, more than a third of the state was covered with them.

Missouri's Tallgrass Prairies

Prairies are natural communities dominated by perennial grasses and forbs (that is, wildflowers and other broad-leaved, nonwoody plants), with scattered shrubs and very few trees. For an introduction to the prairie natural community in general, visit Grasslands, Prairies, and Savannas in Related Habitats below.

Missouri prairies are called tallgrass prairies because they are dominated by warm-season grass species that range from 2 to more than 6 feet in height.

Missouri lies just east of the Great Plains of North America, one of the world’s greatest grasslands. Being to the east of this vast region, and receiving more moisture and having richer soils than those lands, our native prairies support taller grass species. The historic region where tallgrass prairie occurred stretches from Manitoba southeast to eastern Indiana, southwest to northeastern Oklahoma, and north along the eastern portions of Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. The Great Plains grasslands to our west are classified as mixed-grass and, farther west, shortgrass prairies, as the lands become increasing dry, and allowing only shorter grasses to dominate.

Types of Tallgrass Prairies

Twelve types of prairie have been described for Missouri. They are described based on

  • Soil substrate (loess/glacial till, limestone/dolomite, chert, sandstone, shale, sand) — which reflects the location in Missouri
  • Soil moisture (dry, dry-mesic, mesic, swale, hardpan, wet-mesic, wet)
  • Landscape position (upland, bottomland)

Specifically, the twelve types are:

  1. Dry loess/glacial till prairie
  2. Dry-mesic loess/glacial till prairie
  3. Mesic loess/glacial till prairie
  4. Dry limestone/dolomite prairie
  5. Dry-mesic limestone/dolomite prairie
  6. Dry-mesic chert prairie
  7. Dry-mesic sandstone/shale prairie
  8. Prairie swale
  9. Sand prairie
  10. Hardpan prairie
  11. Wet-mesic bottomland prairie
  12. Wet bottomland prairie.

Here, we will focus on five generalized kinds of prairies that are found in Missouri: loess hill prairie, glaciated prairie, unglaciated prairie, sand prairie, and wet prairie.

1. Loess Hill Prairie

Missouri’s steep-sloped loess hill prairies occur in the extreme northwestern corner of the state, along the Missouri River floodplain and other streams. Loess (pronounced “luss”) is ancient, fine-grained, windblown soil, and this fertile soil underlies much of northern Missouri. In northwestern Missouri, it forms magnificent hills rising more than 200 feet above the nearby land.

The dry loess hill prairies that endure on the south- and west-facing parts of these hills harbor plants that are common to the nearby Great Plains region but are rare or endangered in Missouri. Some of these include large beardtongue, thimbleweed, downy painted cup, soapweed, scarlet gaura, low milk vetch, rough false foxglove, and skeleton plant. Other wildflowers include silky aster, ground plum, and foxtail dalea. Because of the harsh conditions of the loess hills, most grasses grow only 3 feet tall. Dominant grasses include hairy grama grass, blue grama, and sideoats grama.

Some of the animals specially known from loess hill prairies are the swift tiger beetle, mermiria and Packard’s grasshoppers, and the plains hognose snake.

You can see loess hill prairies at Star School Hill Prairie , Jamerson McCormack , and Brickyard Hill conservation areas.

2. Glaciated Prairie

Missouri’s glacial till prairies are primarily found in the Central Dissected Till Plains, or Glaciated Plains region, north of the Missouri River. These rolling prairies typically have deep, well-drained, highly fertile soils formed by loess and other historic glacial deposits. These fertile soils were especially attractive to farmers at the time of European settlement — so most of these prairies were long ago converted into crop fields for agricultural production.

When you visit a glaciated prairie, notice how upland, drier sites have different plant communities than lower, wetter, mesic, or bottomland sites, which typically have taller, lusher vegetation.

Plant communities of glacial till prairies are dominated by tallgrass species such as Indian grass and big bluestem, which grow from 4 to 6 feet tall, as well as forbs like compass plant and pale purple coneflower.

Animal communities in glacial till prairies are diverse, including generalists of grassy places (such as American badger and various gartersnakes) as well as habitat specialists (such as dickcissel, bobolink, northern harrier, regal fritillary butterfly, and Topeka shiner). Four animal species of greatest conservation need are found mainly in this prairie type: bobolink, Henslow’s sparrow, northern prairie skink, and Franklin’s ground squirrel.

Places to see glacial till prairies include Grand River Grasslands, Helton Prairie, Mystic Plains, Pony Express, Prairie Forks, and Tarkio Prairie conservation areas.

3. Unglaciated Prairie

Unlike the glacial till and loess hill prairies, unglaciated prairies, found south of the Missouri River, were not formed by glacial soil deposition. Thus soils are generally shallower than those on northern prairies, often exhibiting exposed bedrock. This is the most common remaining prairie type because its rocky and relatively infertile soils have protected it from conversion to agriculture. Prairies to the north, on deeper, richer, glaciated soils, were nearly all changed into cropland.

Historically in this part of Missouri, prairie dominated the highest, flattest areas and graded into post oak barrens and savanna on sideslopes and into draws. The Osage Plains ecoregion, which supports the vast majority of Missouri’s unglaciated prairies, stretches from Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas into the southern and western portions of Missouri. This region is characterized by a flat to gently rolling landscape underlain mainly by Pennsylvanian-age shale, sandstone, and limestone. Grasslands in the southern portion of Missouri are generally found in this Osage Plains region or near the Osage Plains border in the western Ozarks, an area called the Springfield Plateau.

As with glaciated prairie, plant communities within a tract differ based on landscape position: upland, drier areas with shorter grasses and other plants, and lower, moister slopes, draws, and bottomlands with taller, lusher plants.

Overall, prairie plant communities in the Osage Plains and Western Ozarks are dominated by tallgrass species, but shorter grasses such as little bluestem, prairie dropseed, and sideoats grama may be more prevalent in some areas. Forb species include blue false indigo, hoary puccoon, ashy sunflower, sky blue aster, Maximilian sunflowers, compass plant, lead plant, blazing star, purple prairie clover, flowering spurge, and coneflowers. Plant species of greatest conservation need include Barbara’s buttons and Mead’s milkweed.

Animal species of greatest conservation need that can be found in these prairies or associated prairie streams include the northern crawfish frog, Great Plains skink, southern prairie skink, blacknose shiner, Topeka shiner, greater prairie-chicken, Henslow’s sparrow, regal fritillary, and prairie mole cricket.

Several unglaciated prairies are on public lands. Most are quite small. For a first visit, try Prairie State Park, Taberville and Wah’Kon-Tah Prairies, or Paintbrush Prairie.

4. Sand Prairie

Sand prairies exist on natural levees and terraces with very little sloping on all aspects. Soils tend to be well-drained, very deep, and low in nutrients and organic matter. Additionally, sand prairies have highly erodible, often arid soils.

In Missouri, sand prairie habitat is restricted to areas bordering the Mississippi River in only the southeastern and northeastern regions of Missouri. Even in these areas, high-quality sand prairies are rare. Less than 2,000 acres remain in southeast Missouri, for example, and all have been altered for agricultural purposes. Therefore, in Missouri, sand prairies are listed as a critically endangered habitat and are among the rarest natural communities in the state.

The plants and animals that live in sand prairies are adapted to harsh conditions. Examples of plants that flourish in this habitat are little bluestem, jointweed, sand hickory, and Hall’s bulrush, as well as various fungi, lichens, and mosses. Additionally, several Missouri animal species of conservation concern occupy these communities, such as the American badger, dusty hog-nosed snake, eastern spadefoot, barn owl, and northern harrier. Many insects occur in Missouri’s sand prairies, including native bees and sand cicadas.

Currently, MDC and several other conservation partners are taking action to protect and enhance the few remaining remnants of sand prairies. Conservation opportunities identified in the state include the Frost Island Sand Prairies in the northeastern Missouri, and the Southeast Sand Ridge Grasslands in the southeast.

5. Wet Prairie

Wet prairies often border marshes or are associated with floodplains, lower slopes of prairies, or areas with groundwater seepage. They have saturated soils through much of the growing season due to high clay content, and they have seasonally high water tables and standing water present during the spring and winter or after heavy rains. They occur in the Glaciated Plains and Osage Plains.

About 99.6 percent of wet prairies have been destroyed, making them a critically imperiled community type. Pollution, siltation, and changes in the area’s hydrology, such as channelizing or impounding streams and alterations to increase soil drainage, and lack of proper use of prescribed fire, endanger wet prairies, causing woody plants like buttonbush, willows, silver maple, green ash, and cottonwood to encroach on the prairie tracts.

Wet prairies have a dense cover of perennial grasses mixed with forbs and sedges. Typical plants are prairie cordgrass (also called ripgut or slough grass), blue flag, swamp milkweed, and many types of sedges and rushes. Animals include American bittern, yellow rail, sedge wren, meadow vole, meadow jumping mouse, and plains leopard frogs. Several snakes include foxsnakes, ribbonsnake and other gartersnakes, watersnakes, and the state-endangered prairie massasauga (a type of rattlesnake).

You can see wet prairie at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, Douglas Branch, Four Rivers, and Flight Lake conservation areas, and at Ripgut Prairie Natural Area.

Plants and Animals

Many plants and animals live in a wide variety of open, sunny, grassy areas, so naturally they are found in prairies as well as common pastures and old fields. But many other plants and animals are restricted to prairies, or even to certain subtypes of prairies, and they are found almost nowhere else. Many of these species are declining because there is so little prairie habitat left.

Prairie Animals

Several broad-ranging mammals, birds, and insects can move about among all kinds of grassy areas, so it’s no surprise to find them in prairies. Examples of animals that can live in many kinds of grassy, open areas include black-and-yellow garden spider, differential grasshopper, great spangled fritillary butterfly, ornate box turtle, northern bobwhite, dickcissel, bobolink, brown-headed cowbird, eastern meadowlark, scissor-tailed flycatcher, eastern cottontail, and coyote. Some of these animals’ native home is the prairie, but fortunately they often can survive in less specific habitats.

Many animals, however, are tied to certain plant species, plant communities, or environmental conditions found only on tallgrass prairies, so they can survive and thrive only on tallgrass prairies. Examples of prairie specialists include the regal fritillary butterfly, prairie mole cricket, pink katydid, eastern tiger salamander, northern crawfish frog, western narrow-mouthed toad, bullsnake, northern harrier, upland sandpiper, horned lark, Henslow’s and grasshopper sparrows, and greater prairie-chicken.

As many as 100 different kinds of ants and more than 150 kinds of bees live in tallgrass prairies. They, plus butterflies, moths, beetles, and thousands of other different insects, do much of the work on the prairie: they are important pollinators, help build soil by cycling nutrients, and provide food for birds and other animals.

Many tallgrass prairie species are interconnected so closely that the disappearance of one could mean the end of others. The grassland (or prairie) crayfish, for instance, builds burrows into the ground that can be six feet deep. Northern crawfish frogs and other animals rely on these tunnels as cool retreats in hot, dry weather.

The American bison once ranged through the Great Plains and tallgrass prairies in enormous herds. These animals could quickly and completely graze a given area, but because the presettlement grassland ecosystem was so vast, the bison could migrate constantly to ungrazed areas. In fact, their occasional, random trampling and stripping of vegetation from lands was one of the natural disturbances, like fire, that maintained the prairie ecosystem, preventing trees from getting established.

Prairie Plants

The dominant plants on our native prairies and savannas are warm-season grasses. There is a mind-boggling variety of native grasses, but big and little bluestem, Indian grass, and sideoats grama are the superstars. Their chemical pathways for photosynthesis make them especially efficient for harvesting the sun’s energy in midsummer.

Many native prairie plants, both grasses and forbs, are perennials with incredibly deep root systems. In fact, most of their mass is belowground. Compass plant is an example; this member of the sunflower family can reach 7 feet in height, but its roots can reach 14 feet below the surface. White wild indigo grows about 3 or 4 feet tall, and buffalo grass doesn’t reach even a foot in height, but the roots of both penetrate 7 feet down into the earth. Cylindric blazing star’s roots reach 15 feet deep. Over thousands of years of living and dying, these plants with their deep roots built up some of the most fertile soils on earth.

Some native forbs that characteristically occur in prairie habitats include

  • Aster family: American feverfew, Ashy sunflower, compass plant, coneflowers, blazing stars, prairie dock, and purple-headed sneezeweed
  • Pea family: goat’s rue, long-bracted wild indigo, purple prairie clover, sensitive briar, white wild indigo, and leadplant
  • Milkweeds: butterfly weed, green-flowered milkweed, Mead’s milkweed, prairie milkweed, whorled milkweed
  • Also: blue-eyed grass, celestial lily, closed gentian, field milkwort, hoary puccoon, Indian paintbrush, prairie alum root, prairie parsley, rattlesnake master, rose gentian, wild hyacinth, wood betony, yarrow — and many, many more.

Plants That Invade Prairies

Many plants that are common in disturbed or altered grassy areas, such as roadsides and pastures, can quickly invade native prairie, especially when native fire regimes are not maintained. Cool-season grasses like tall fescue, woody plants such as cedar and sumacs, and a variety of common pasture weeds, many of them nonnatives, can get established.

The good news is that, except in the cases of the most aggressive invasive plants, native prairie is surprisingly resilient. The tall, warm-season grasses and the tough sod of established prairie can outcompete weedy nonnative plants like Queen Anne’s lace, with proper management. Because the native plants have their growth tips at or below ground level, fire doesn’t harm them, though with proper timing, it can wipe out the plants that don’t belong.

 

Prairies can occur statewide, but nearly all are found north of the Missouri River and in western Missouri.

Media
Photo of prairie showing big bluestem leaves and flowering stalks
Species Types
Scientific Name
Andropogon gerardii
Description
Every Missourian should know big bluestem. It is the most famous of our native prairie grasses. The seed head of this tall grass branches into three parts, resembling a turkey’s foot.
Media
Photo of little bluestem mature seed head
Species Types
Scientific Name
Schizachyrium scoparium
Description
Little bluestem is a native perennial bunch grass with flowering stalks 1–4 feet tall. In fall, the leaves turn coppery. It occurs statewide and is an important component of native prairies and glades.
Media
Photo of eastern gama grass flowering plant
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tripsacum dactyloides
Description
Eastern gama grass is a native perennial bunch grass with flowering stalks up to 8 feet tall. The fingerlike seed heads have separate male and female florets. The seed-bearing, female florets are in the lower portion of each spike. It occurs statewide and is an important component of native prairies and glades.
Media
Photo of Indian grass flower head in bloom
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sorghastrum nutans
Description
Indian grass is a native perennial bunch grass with flowering stalks up to 7 feet tall. The golden seed heads are plumelike, with twisted awns. It occurs nearly statewide and is an important component of native prairies and glades.
Media
Photo of eastern woodland sedge plant growing among leaf litter.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carex, Schoenoplectus, Scirpus, and other genera
Description
Missouri has more than 200 species in the sedge family. Distinguishing between these grasslike plants can be difficult, but it’s easy to learn some basics about the group.
Media
Photo of path rush, closeup showing drying fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Juncus spp. and Luzula spp.
Description
Missouri has 24 species in the rush family. Distinguishing between these grasslike plants can be tricky, but it’s easy to learn some basics about the group.
Media
Photo of several black-eyed Susan flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Rudbeckia hirta
Description
Black-eyed Susan is a tremendously popular native wildflower for gardening. It’s also commonly planted along roadways, so when it’s blooming, May through October, you’re sure to see it somewhere.
Media
Photo of compass plant flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Silphium laciniatum
Description
Compass plant grows to 8 feet tall and has foot-long, deeply cleft leaves at its base. It got its common name because its leaves turn so that the surfaces face east and west to take full advantage of the sun’s rays.
Media
Photo of dense stand of prairie blazing star or gayfeather at Pawnee Prairie
Species Types
Scientific Name
Liatris pycnostachya
Description
Prairie blazing star has an unbranched stalk with many densely crowded, rose-purple flowerheads. It is a signature wildflower of the tallgrass prairie.
Media
Photo of pale purple coneflower showing white pollen among disk florets
Species Types
Scientific Name
Echinacea pallida
Description
One of Missouri's five types of echinacea, pale purple coneflower is distinguished by its white pollen, drooping pink or purple ray flowers, and narrow, tapering leaves. It occurs nearly statewide, except for the Bootheel lowlands.
Media
Photo of a western prairie fringed orchid plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Platanthera praeclara
Description
Western prairie fringed orchid is endangered and known only from a few northwestern locations in our state. Learn about this showy native wildflower of Missouri’s western prairies, and why it’s so important to preserve our remaining tallgrass prairies.
Media
Photo of a grassland crayfish, also called prairie crayfish.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Procambarus gracilis
Description
The grassland crayfish is rather uniformly colored either bright red or reddish and has broad, powerful pincers. It inhabits prairies and grasslands from Wisconsin and Indiana to Texas, including grasslands in northern and western Missouri.
Media
Photo of an adult female field cricket
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gryllus spp., Acheta domesticus, and other in subfamily Gryllinae
Description
Field crickets and house crickets are celebrated singers. ;There are several species in Missouri.
Media
Black-legged meadow katydid female
Species Types
Scientific Name
Orchelimum nigripes
Description
The black-legged meadow katydid is a gorgeous, strikingly marked katydid that hides among foliage. They are secretive and quick to hop away or move to the other side of a plant stem.
Media
Photo of an American burying beetle
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nicrophorus americanus
Description
The American burying beetle is endangered statewide and nationally. Restoration efforts are under way. This brightly patterned beetle specializes in cleaning carrion from the landscape, burying dead mice, birds, and other creatures.
Media
Great Spangled Fritillary, Wings Spread, nectaring on milkweed flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Speyeria cybele
Description
The great spangled fritillary is common and easily recognized. This glorious butterfly is often seen in city yards and gardens as it seeks flowers.
Media
Image of a monarch
Species Types
Scientific Name
Danaus plexippus
Description
Monarchs are well-known butterflies distinguished by their relatively large size, rusty or orange wings with black veins, and black bodies. The larvae usually are found on milkweeds.
Media
Photo of a Black Swallowtail, Male, Wings Spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Papilio polyxenes
Description
Most gardeners meet the black swallowtail sooner or later, because parsley, carrot, fennel, and dill are favorite food plants of the caterpillars.
Media
Image of a northern crawfish frog
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lithobates areolatus circulosus
Description
A chorus of crawfish frogs, amid the open, grassy flowerbeds of our native prairies, can evoke a profound sense of what our American forebears experienced as they migrated west in their wagons.
Media
Photo of a plains leopard frog in grass.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lithobates blairi (formerly Rana blairi)
Description
A medium-sized spotted frog, the plains leopard frog is found in pastures, prairies, and marshes. The ridge of skin along each side of the back is broken, and the small posterior section is raised toward the back. It is not present in the Ozarks.
Media
Image of a plains spadefoot
Species Types
Scientific Name
Spea bombifrons
Description
The plains spadefoot is a stout, toadlike amphibian with large, protruding eyes, vertically elliptical pupils, short legs, and large feet. There is a raised area between the eyes. It occurs in counties along the Missouri River.
Media
Image of a six-lined racerunner lizard
Species Types
Scientific Name
Aspidoscelis sexlineata
Description
The six-lined racerunner is a fast, alert ground dweller that don’t usually climb trees. Also called field-streaks ;and sand lappers, ;racerunners are close kin to the whiptail lizards you might know from the western United States.
Media
Image of a bullsnake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pituophis catenifer sayi
Description
Missouri's largest snake, the bullsnake may hiss loudly and vibrate its tail when alarmed, but it is nonvenomous. This species is extremely valuable in controlling destructive rodents.
Media
Photo of a plains gartersnake taken in Lakewood, Colorado.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Thamnophis radix
Description
An attractive, medium-sized snake of wet meadows and marshes, the plains gartersnake spends warm summer days basking in the sun or searching for food. Winters are spent underground, probably in abandoned rodent tunnels.
Media
Image of a plains hog-nosed snake
Species Types
Scientific Name
Heterodon nasicus nasicus
Description
The plains hog-nosed snake has probably been extirpated from Missouri. It has a ;sharply upturned snout, ;black pigment on the underside of the tail, and was only known from the loess hill prairies of extreme northwest Missouri.
Media
Image of a massasauga
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sistrurus tergeminus tergeminus
Description
The prairie massasauga is a shy, reclusive, nonaggressive rattlesnake. It used to live in floodplain wetlands of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Grand rivers, but it is now endangered.
Media
Photo of a male greater prairie-chicken in courtship display
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tympanuchus cupido
Description
The greater prairie chicken breeds in select grasslands in the spring, filling the air with their unusual booming calls. With their numbers dwindling, this rare bird needs strong conservation support.
Media
Photo of a northern harrier in flight, viewed from side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Circus hudsonius (sometimes called C. cyaneus)
Description
The northern harrier is a hawk of wetlands and grasslands. It has long wings and tail, a white rump patch, and an owl-like facial disk. Males are gray, females are brown. The flight pattern is distinctive.
Media
Photo of a male dickcissel in breeding plumage, perched.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Spiza americana
Description
Like a cross between a meadowlark and a sparrow, the dickcissel is common in prairies, pastures, and fields. Atop fences and tall weeds, it sings its buzzy “dick-dick-dickcissel” into the bright sunshine.
Media
Photo of a horned lark standing on sand in very shallow water.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eremophila alpestris
Description
Horned larks are common in open, plowed crop fields anywhere in Missouri. Their movement against the ground, and their distinctively marked faces and “horns,” can help you see their flocks.
Media
Photo of a grasshopper sparrow perched on barbwire
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ammodramus savannarum
Description
The grasshopper sparrow eats grasshoppers, and it sounds like a grasshopper. Look for it in prairies and other open, grassy areas.
Media
Photo of badger
Species Types
Scientific Name
Taxidea taxus
Description
An excellent digger, the American badger is a powerful predators of rodents in grasslands and other open areas. Note its brawny build, impressive digging claws, and the black and white facial pattern.
Media
Photo of two prairie voles in a nest made of dried grasses
Species Types
Scientific Name
Microtus ochrogaster, M. pinetorum, and M. pennsylvanicus
Description
There are three species of voles in Missouri: prairie, meadow, and woodland voles. These mouselike rodents have rounded, blunt snouts, chisel-shaped front teeth, and short tails.
Media
large, dark bison in snowy field
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bos bison
Description
The largest mammal to occur in Missouri during historic times, the bison lives in wild and semi-wild herds on private ranges and on public lands, where people can see them and imagine the immense herds that used to be.
Media
Photo of a bull elk lifting its head and bugling
Species Types
Elk
Scientific Name
Cervus canadensis (also called C. elaphus)
Description
Very large members of the deer family, elk are brown or tan above with darker underparts, with a thick neck and yellowish-brown rump patch and tail. Elk have been restored in three Ozark counties.
Media
Common shiner side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Luxilus cornutus
Description
The common shiner is mostly found in central and west-central Missouri in short, direct tributaries of the Missouri River. It is very similar to the striped shiner but lacks dusty sprinkles of pigment on its chin and (except for breeding males) lacks dark lines on the upper part of the body.
Media
Topeka shiner female, side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Notropis topeka
Description
Found in only a few Missouri streams, the Topeka shiner is an endangered native minnow that has declined dramatically because of environmental pollution, siltation, and loss or alteration of habitat.
Media
Redfin darter side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Etheostoma whipplei
Description
The redfin darter is one of Missouri's rarest darters and is endangered in our state. It is part of a highly distinctive fish community living in the lower Spring River and its North Fork, in Jasper and Barton counties.
Media
Trout-perch side view photo with black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Percopsis omiscomaycus
Description
The trout-perch is the only Missouri fish with both an adipose fin and rough-edged scales. In Missouri, it occurs only in the Grand and Chariton River systems, but its range used to be much greater. It is on the verge of disappearing from our state.
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