The El Dorado Prairies IBA was historically dominated by tallgrass prairie, with some savanna and woodland. Today, tallgrass prairie fragments remain amongst cropland and fescue pasture. Twenty-two percent of the IBA is prairie protected in public and private conservation land. This includes two prairies co-managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC): Wah 'Kon-Tah Prairie (1,568, acres, 635 ha) and Mo-Ko Prairie (420 acres, 170 ha). Also included is MDC?s Monegaw Prairie Conservation Area (CA) (267 acres, 108 ha).

Ornithological Summary

In addition to the occurrence of remnant Greater Prairie-chicken populations, grassland birds that use this IBA include Bell?s Vireo, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Henslow?s Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Harrier, Short-eared Owl, and Upland Sandpiper.

Conservation Issues

Conservation challenges outlined by MDC (2005) for the landscape encompassing the El Dorado Prairies IBA (identified as the Marmaton / Wah ?Kon-Tah Conservation Opportunity Area) include afforestation of native prairie, conversion of native prairie to cool season (fescue) pastures and cropland, and exotic plant invasion of native prairie (e.g., sericea lespedeza). In addition to restoring tallgrass prairie and limiting woodland encroachment on existing conservation areas, similar actions could be taken by private landowners to maximize the abundance, sizes, and connectivity of native prairie remnants (e.g., through state and federal incentives, such as the US Department of Agriculture?s Conservation Reserve Program). Continuing conservation efforts led by TNC in the region have resulted in large, high-quality prairies that support an abundance of grassland wildlife.

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