In the early days of European settlement, about one-third of Missouri was covered in a tall grass prairie. A covered wagon could disappear in this tall grass. Today only remnants remain but the Missouri Prairie Foundation tries to protect what prairie is left and reconstruct prairie ecosystems where possible.
Tall grass prairie, often dominated by big blue stem, switch grass, and Indian grass, is a haven for wildlife but it also benefits humans. A good stand of prairie can absorb as much as an 8-inch rainfall and help prevent excessive flooding. Putting land back into prairie can reduce the runoff of farm chemicals into streams, helping clean up rivers and streams.
In his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis commends the work of those who restore degraded environments and care for our common home. The Missouri Prairie Foundation has been involved in this work since 1966. View this Why Prairie Matters video for more. To learn more about the Missouri Prairie Foundation visit their website and if you want to visit some of the foundation’s prairie land check out Our Prairies for public access land in Missouri.