The trustees are working with the city of Joplin and the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) to improve habitat in city parks. MPF prairie experts will assist Joplin City Park staff in converting underutilized mowed fields into native prairie plots full of wildflowers to provide habitat for butterflies and other native pollinator species. This project, which will restore almost 54 acres, expanded from a smaller project to restore and enhance a small prairie remnant on an 8 acre parcel in the middle of town. That project began in 2014 and will continue as part of this larger effort. This project is funded through money recovered as damages from Eagle Picher Mining and Smelting Company.
In April 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the City of Joplin and Missouri Prairie Foundation. Missouri Prairie Foundation acquires 8.1 acres of green space in the heart of Joplin. A 1.5 acre remnant prairie patch became visible after most of the surrounding trees were damaged in the tornado of 2011. MPF began cleaning up debris and treating a variety of invasive exotic plants that had taken over most of the property. This property became known as the Joplin Prairie tract.
In January 2015, MPF staff, volunteers and members of the Joplin Fire Department worked together to conduct a prescribed fire on the native prairie portion of the site, which had not seen fire for perhaps over a century. Fire is a necessary part of the natural disturbance regime that keeps prairie ecosystems healthy. The department placed a conservation easement on the Joplin Prairie in November 2015, ensuring that it will remain as native habitat, free from development, for the benefit of the public.
Between 2015 and 2019, MPF continued to restore habitat on the Joplin Prairie tract. In 2018, the department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begin talking with the Joplin Parks Department about expanding the habitat restoration efforts to other portions of city parks. Converting certain areas of the parks from turf grass to native grasses and wildflowers will save the city money on mowing and maintenance, and provide important habitat for wildlife.
In 2019, ownership of the Joplin Prairie property was transferred to the City of Joplin, as an addition to the public parks system. Restoration began on 54 acres, spread across five parks and a public golf course.
For information about any upcoming events, public notices and opportunities for public comment relating to this project, visit What's New in NRDAR.
This project is made possible through the joint efforts of the following groups: