Prairie Fork Update: November 2021

Falling leaves and field experiences, and habitat improvements… oh my!

October started off with a bang! Or rather…a slice?? Several of our pond and wetland dams were cut to create better habitats for herps. By cutting the dams in these water impoundments, the water level within them dropped to what is suitable for the wide variety of frogs, salamanders, and other animals that call our ponds and wetlands their home.

Though we dropped several of our ponds’ water levels, we do still have some that are deep enough to support fish. Crow Pond is one of the few on Prairie Fork that can be used for catch-and-release fishing, and with that comes a need for it to be stocked on occasion. This month just happened to be the month that our fish population grew by ten! These will both provide an experience for students that come out for catch-and-release fishing ventures, and serve to control the aquatic vegetation within Crow Pond.

While management staff was hard at work with habitat improvements, education staff was busy welcoming school groups to explore the prairie, pond, and forest! From small homeschool groups to large 100+ student field trips, we’re ready and willing to host your group’s learning experience. Contact Amber if you have any questions regarding bringing your group out, and be sure to submit a reservation when you’re ready to plan your trip to see us!

Along with our younger students using Prairie Fork as a field experience site, some future educators were able to utilize our area in an effort to hone their skills. Students from Dr. Christine Li’s Foundations of Environmental Education class came out for a peer teaching experience across all of our area habitats. Using the Discover Nature Schools curriculum, these college students were able to preview how our K-12 groups explore our site during their field experiences. They were also lucky enough to be the first group to utilize our brand new dock at Crayfish Wetland!

Although most of the faces around here this month were new visitors, we welcomed some familiar ones as well! In mid-October, the Prairie Fork Trust held its annual meeting. This meeting serves to help update the committee on what has been done across the area in the past months, determine what facets of research funding will be focused on in the coming year, and plan out the next steps of area management and usage. If you are interested in submitting a research proposal, make sure to check out our 2022 Request For proposal and submit your proposal by January 14th, 2022! (This shaggy mane mushroom made an appearance during the meeting… which we’re gonna say means that the coming year will be a great one!)

To round out the month, a managed youth hunt was organized on the area by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Six young hunters were able to spend the weekend at Prairie Fork hunting with a mentor. Over the course of the weekend, all six youth hunters managed to successfully harvest their first deer! To sign up for next year’s managed hunts make sure to visit MDC’s list of managed hunts and apply from July 1st-31st, 2022 for the 2022-23 season.

We all hope you have a wonderful November and remember to “Learn, Get Dirty, and Have Fun!” Look for our next area update in December!