Restoring prairie at Bilby Ranch

MARYVILLE, Mo. – It’s early according to nature’s timetable, only the second growing season since the seeds went into the soil.

But already prairie grasses and wildflowers are reclaiming sod on 600 acres of the Bilby Ranch Conservation Area in Nodaway County. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is restoring a tract on the area into the type of natural wildlife habitat that once covered most of northwest Missouri.

“Our goal is to restore a tallgrass prairie ecosystem, something that we don’t have a lot of acres,” said Phil Boyer, MDC wildlife biologist.

“We want a contiguous grassland, uninterrupted. We’re trying to make it look like it might have been in the early 1800s.”

Phil Boyer, MDC wildlife biologist, leads the Bilby Ranch native grassland restoration and monitors the prairie plants. In year two, they are growing, and some are blooming, but more growth years and management such as prescribed burns are required for the prairie plants to dominate and crowd out non-natives that linger.

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