By Bill Graham
El Dorado Springs, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has added a 320-acre grassland tract to the Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area in St. Clair County. This filled a gap between existing area tracts and provides the opportunity to manage contiguous native grassland on the northern boundary. MDC manages Wah’Kon-Tah for native prairie plant and wildlife species in partnership with area cattle ranchers who graze livestock on selected acres.
“A concern we have is there is so much fragmentation in surviving native grasslands,” said Stasia Whitaker, MDC wildlife management biologist. “That’s contributed to grassland birds being among the fastest declining species in North America. Grassland birds are in dire need of our help and now. All prairie species on the area will benefit from this expansion.”
A large portion of the 3,350-acre Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area is owned by The Nature Conservancy of Missouri. Other portions are owned by MDC, which manages the entire area in partnership with the Conservancy. The area is north and east of El Dorado Springs. Visitors can hike, hunt, watch birds, study plants, and enjoy prairie vistas. Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie is a cornerstone of MDC’s Upper Osage Grasslands Priority Geography, a partnership that includes private partners and landowners.
For more information on the Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie Conservation Area, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zwd. Private landowners can get help from MDC with grassland management practices that benefit prairie species and conservation ranching, visit https://mdc.mo.gov/property.