The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) will partner to host a free Prairie Day event at Dunn Ranch Prairie this month where visitors can learn about prairie ecology while viewing bison, wildflowers and birds.

T. J. Peacher, MDC outreach and education district supervisor, said the event is open to all ages.

“We want people to come out and see how magnificent the prairie is,” Peacher said. “We want them to have a closeup look at birds, butterflies and bison.”

The event will take place in Harrison County in Northwest Missouri.

He said visitors can take a wagon tour of the Dunn Ranch Prairie bison herd as part of the event.

The Nature Conservancy owns Dunn Ranch Prairie which is a property with both unplowed prairie and restored native grasslands. Bison graze the wildflowers and grasses and they are part of the TNC’s prairie restoration strategy. The conservation department owns Pawnee Prairie Conservation Area, which is near Dunn Ranch Prairie.

Dunn Ranch Prairie is part of the Grand River Grasslands, a partnership between MDC, TNC, private landowners and other conservation entities in Missouri and neighboring Iowa. The goal is to partner in order to restore a naturally functioning grassland ecosystem compatible with the area’s ranching and farming on private lands.

Prairie Day will highlight the conservation department’s success in working with private landowners to restore and manage healthy grasslands. Department staff has helped landowners implement conservation practices for pastures and hay fields. They are working with 26 landowners in the Grand River Grasslands this year.

The event will also mark the 20-year anniversary of TNC’s ownership of Dunn Ranch Prairie. They also partner in efforts to restore populations of prairie-chickens on grasslands and Topeka shiner minnows in prairie streams. Both are endangered species in Missouri.

The prairie is also home to the Regal Fritillary butterfly which is a native resident species restricted to prairie habitats. It is a Missouri Species of Conservation Concern and a federal species of conservation concern.

Peacher said visitors can learn about profitable pasture management practices for haying and grazing that use native grasses and forbs. Visitors can see displays about prairie ecology and purchase native plant seedlings for transplanting. It’s also a chance for attendees to receive tips from experts about establishing native warm-season grasses in fields, planting wildflowers on farms or maintaining home gardens.

Prairie Day will be on Saturday, Sept. 14, and will begin with a sunrise birding walk from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at MDC’s Pawnee Prairie Conservation Area, which is near Dunn Ranch Prairie. Experts from Missouri Master Naturalists will lead the walk.

Visitors will have an opportunity to camp on Friday, Sept. 13, near the Dunn Ranch Prairie headquarters office. Camping is free. There will be a social event and nature documentary film in the evening.

The North Harrison Fire Protection District based at Eagleville will sell hamburgers and hot dogs and proceeds will benefit the district.

Beef for the hamburgers will come from the Audubon Conservation Ranching program which helps ranchers implement pasture management practices that benefit grassland birds.

Dunn Ranch Prairie is located west of Eagleville at 16970 W 150th St. in Hatfield, Missouri. A tent and displays will be set up near the shelter house north of the ranch headquarters.

For more information about Prairie Day, or to register for camping, call 816-271-3100.

Margaret Slayton can be reached