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Missouri Private Lands Office, Partners Restore 229 acres of Native Prairie/Savanna in Southern Missouri
Midwest Region, February 20, 2007
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Summer forb planting.
- FWS photo
Summer forb planting.

- FWS photo

- Photo Credit: n/a
It is anticipated that the Scarlet Tanager will benefit from Oak Savanna/Prairie restorations such as this.
- photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation
It is anticipated that the Scarlet Tanager will benefit from Oak Savanna/Prairie restorations such as this.

- photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

- Photo Credit: n/a

 The Missouri Private Lands Office, in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Missouri Master Naturalists and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) worked together with a West Plains, Missouri landowner to restore and monitor a 229-acre block of prairie and oak savanna in southern Missouri through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (PFW Program). 

Prairie/savanna complexes in Missouri have nearly vanished with only 1-2% remaining.  The project occurs in the early successional/eastern deciduous forest region identified in the American Bird Conservancy’s “Top 20 most threatened bird areas in the United States” and is also within the Osage Plains and Ozark Highlands Prairie/Savanna Focus Area for the PFW Program.  

Prairie/savanna complexes provide important habitat for Midwest migratory species of conservation priority including Prairie Warbler* (*PIF Watch List species), Field Sparrow, Red-headed Woodpecker and Whip-Poor-Will.  These, as well as Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Brown Thrasher, and Summer Tanagers, are all considered Partners in Flight priority species.  The project is important for Northern Bobwhite (declining statewide), and is within one of MDC’s Northern Bobwhite Focus Areas and near Tingler Prairie Natural Area, a 240-acre state managed prairie.  The juxtaposition of this restoration project contributes to the overall size of the conservation matrix in this vicinity providing a large conservation block for migratory birds.   

Restoration efforts have included removing invasive species such as sericea lespedeza, tall fescue and Johnson grass, followed by planting a diverse mix of native grass and forbs on 70 acres of degraded pasture.  These native species will provide foraging habitat and nesting structure to declining prairie/savanna birds and resident wildlife, including Northern Bobwhite.  In addition, the savanna restoration, immediately adjacent to the PFW site, and funded through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program, was thinned to allow sunlight to stimulate existing dormant native prairie vegetation that has been shaded out due to a closed canopy of second growth forest. 

To date, this is the second largest prairie/savanna restoration implemented in Missouri and is also being monitored for the presence/absence of prairie dependent birds of importance to both the Service and MDC.  The bird survey was implemented in June of 2006 with the help of Missouri Master Naturalists prior to the completion of the habitat work in order to obtain baseline information on bird numbers.  Birds monitored included: field sparrow (mean 2.1/site), orchard oriole (mean 0/site), prairie warbler (mean .27/site), redheaded woodpecker (mean .13/site) and bobwhite quail (mean .6/site).  Now that initial baseline bird numbers are known the populations can be monitored to show the bird use after restoration for years to come.

Overall the landowner has indicated he is pleased with the restoration efforts thus far and wants to show his neighbors and others what he has done.  The landowner’s expressed goal is restoring the land so his family and future generations can enjoy nature by bird watching, hunting and looking at prairie flowers.  Recently, the landowner has indicated he’d like to expand the restoration area for an additional 100 acres adjacent to the current project site.


Contact Info: Larry Dean, 612-713-5312, Larry_Dean@fws.gov



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