About Prairie Fork

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Prairie Fork Conservation Area is a 911-acre area was donated to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), with the initial 711 acres donated by Hilda P. Jones in 1997. In 2004, an additional 200 acres was purchased by Mrs. Jones.  She donated this tract to the Missouri Prairie Foundation with the intention that it be deeded to MDC upon final prairie reconstruction planting in 2019. Her vision for the area encompassed three major emphasis areas. These included the implementation of conservation education programs which facilitate hands-on learning (particularly for the young and young at heart), natural resource research, and natural community management.

 

At the time of the donation, the Prairie Fork Trust was also created to provide oversight and additional funding for activities related to natural resource education, restoration, management and research.

 

In keeping with the original intent of the donation, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources, and the Missouri Prairie Foundation cooperatively manage Prairie Fork Conservation Area for several broad objectives:

    1. To provide educational experiences related to forestry, fisheries, wildlife, soils, and environmental conservation for all citizens, but especially for our youth, with an emphasis on preschool through eighth grade.
    2. To restore and maintain natural communities and their processes and functions
    3. To develop techniques that promote both wise use and sustainability of our natural resources.
    4. To encourage research from diverse disciplines in the implementation of the above objectives and provide students cross-disciplinary experiences in research and educational programs.
In-Depth

Prairie Fork Conservation Area (PFCA) is located in eastern Callaway County, Missouri, southwest of Williamsburg, one mile south of Interstate 70 on State Highway D. This 911-acre area was donated to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), with the initial 711 acres donatedby Hilda P. Jones in 1997. In 2004, an additional 200 acres was purchased by Mrs. Jones.  She donated this tract to the Missouri Prairie Foundation with the intention that it be deeded to MDC upon final prairie reconstruction planting in 2019.  Her vision for the area encompassed three major emphasis areas. These included the implementation of conservation education programs which facilitate hands-on learning (particularly for the young and young at heart), natural resource research, and natural community management.

 

At the time of the original donation, the Prairie Fork Trust was also created to provide oversight and additional funding for activities to benefit the area. Prairie Fork Conservation Area is managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation in close cooperation with the Prairie Fork Trust and University of Missouri School of Natural Resources.

 

Prairie Fork lies within the transitional zone from the Glaciated Plains to the Ozark Border Natural Division. The northern half was historically uplands covered by prairie grasses and wildflowers. This transitioned into the Missouri River Hills woodland and savanna habitats in the southern portion.

 

The area was in agricultural & livestock production prior to its donation, so early natural community restoration was focused on converting the upland habitat back into a prairie/savanna ecosystem.  There is still lots of progress to be made in this effort, but parts of the area now present as one would imagine the prairies appeared pre-European settlement.

 

In keeping with the Prairie Fork natural resource objectives, ongoing research projects are conducted on the area by universities, MDC staff, and other researchers. These projects encompass a variety of topics ranging from native plant restoration to wildlife population studies, in addition to expanding opportunities for visitors to the area.

 

We look forward to hosting your group (of 10 or more) at Prairie Fork.  To make your appointment, please complete the form and we will be in touch soon to confirm arrangements of your visit.

 

Facilities at Prairie Fork Conservation Area are primitive, but there are parking areas for buses, outdoor toilet facilities, and a water spigot. Individuals with physical challenges can be accommodated. We have six managed trails, including a crushed gravel half-mile loop trail that winds around Crow Pond, and is located adjacent to the parking lot by the pavilion. There is an education building available during inclement weather; however, as our activities are all outdoors, we recommend scheduling an alternate rain date.

 

Catch and release fishing opportunities are available upon manager approval after group appointment has been confirmed. Limited managed hunts take place on the area. All managed hunts are administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation. For more information, visit the MDC website at https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/deer/deer-managed-hunts.