Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages are invited to enjoy a weekend on an original American landscape—the tallgrass prairie—at the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Gayfeather Prairie in Vernon County on June 7 and 8.
At this free event, adults and children with enthusiasm for the outdoors will team up with biologists to explore and document plants and animals from Gayfeather Prairie, named for its abundance of gayfeather or blazingstar wildflowers. This 116-acre original, unplowed prairie is owned by the Missouri Prairie Foundation and the Missouri Department of Conservation.
“This event is always a fun, engaging experience with an old time family-gathering feel to it,” said Missouri Prairie Foundation technical advisor Jeff Cantrell. “I hope many will mark their calendars.”
Across the country, nature lovers and professional biologists team up at “BioBlitz’s” to identify as many species as possible (the “bio”) in an area over the course of 24 hours (the “blitz”). The Foundation’s version will begin June 7 at 2:00 p.m. and end the afternoon of June 8. In addition to plant and animal fieldwork, there will be a potluck picnic dinner, stargazing with telescopes with the Astronomical Society of Kansas City, nocturnal insect observations, and free tent camping on the prairie.
“Ecologists consider temperate grasslands to be the most endangered, least conserved of any major terrestrial habitat on earth—so Missouri’s tallgrass prairies have global conservation significance,” said Carol Davit, the Foundation’s executive director. “Collectively, our remaining prairies in Missouri support up to 800 plant species, dozens of vertebrates and thousands of invertebrates, but there is still much to learn. We want to see how many species we can find at Gayfeather Prairie, and BioBlitz participants will help in that effort.” Participants at past BioBlitz’s at other Foundation prairies have documented blooming orchids, dozens of butterfly species, rare fish, and much more.
On the afternoon and evening of June 7 and the morning of June 8, biologists who study ants, bees, birds, butterflies, insect coloration, fish, aquatic insects, moths, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, plants, and soils will lead groups across the prairies to survey and inventory as many species as possible.
“We are thrilled that so many biologists are giving their time to help uncover the plant and animal treasures of these prairies,” said Davit. “If you love plants and wildlife, this is a great opportunity to learn from experts passionate about their given subjects, and play a role in much-needed data collection as well.”
The Prairie BioBlitz is free, but participants must RSVP. For a detailed schedule, directions to the prairie, and to RSVP, visit www.moprairie.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 660-723-3938.
The Missouri Prairie Foundation is a 48-year-old nonprofit organization that protects and restores prairie and other native grasslands through acquisition, management, education and support of prairie research. The Missouri Prairie Foundation is promotes the use of native plants through its Grow Native! program.