Prairie Fork In Depth
Prairie Fork Conservation Area is located in eastern Callaway County, Missouri, southwest of Williamsburg, one mile south of Interstate 70 on State Highway D. This 711 acre area was donated to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) by Hilda P. Jones in 1997. Her intentions for the land include development of education programs which facilitate hands-on conservation education (particularly for the young and young at heart), University of Missouri natural resource research, and restoration of natural communities.
At the time of the donation, the Prairie Fork Trust was also created to provide oversight and additional funding for activities. The area was in agricultural production prior to its donation. Prairie Fork Conservation Area is managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation in close cooperation with the University of Missouri and Prairie Fork Trust.
Prairie Fork Conservation Area lies within the transitional Ozark Border Natural Division and has great potential for various natural community restorations. The uplands were historically covered by prairie grasses and wildflowers, while the moist stream corridors were dominated by trees and shrubs. The transition between these two ecotypes were eastern hardwoods and savanna. Early natural community restoration is focused on the process of restoring the upland habitat to the prairie/savanna ecosystem that existed before the area was settled. There is still lots of progress to be made in this effort, but parts of the area now appear as one would imagine the prairies looked when Lewis and Clark made their historic voyage through the area.
In keeping with the Prairie Fork mission, natural resource research projects are conducted on the area by the University of Missouri, Conservation Department 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.
Public use is limited to scheduled events. However, if you are interested in visiting Prairie Fork Conservation Area, please contact us at (573) 254-3990 or email Jeff Demand and we will be happy to schedule your activities.
Facilities at Prairie Fork Conservation Area are primitive, but there are parking areas for buses, outdoor toilet facilities, and a water hydrant is available. Physically challenged visitors can be accommodated. A handicap accessible half-mile loop trail is currently under construction and should be completed soon. There is a shelter available during inclement weather, however because our activities are all outdoors, we recommend scheduling an alternate rain date.
Limited managed hunts are also allowed on the area. All managed hunts are administered by the Mo Dept of Conservation and are by invitation only. For more information see the MDC web site at www.missouriconservation.org