Somewhere out there someone isn’t thinking about prairie.

Somewhere out there someone isn’t thinking about prairie.

And that’s too bad, Bill Graham, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said Friday, the day before the bi-annual Prairie Day is held at the Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs.

“Prairie is a pretty complex system, and that’s a whole lot of the reason why people enjoy it,” Graham said.

The story of the prairie and the Ice Age that helped create it 10,000 years ago will be told from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. With demonstrations, games, live animals, re-enactments and tours through restored native grasslands, staff at the center promise education and fun.

The Kansas City area, or western Missouri, is in the middle of the prairie region. In what Graham refers to as “the bigger picture,” the region was once a prairie ecosystem interspersed with woodlands, rivers and wetlands.

Forming what many people consider to be the “heartland of the world’s richest agriculture region,” the prairie ecosystem has benefited man and beast alike – and still does, the center’s manger, Lisa Lacombe, said.

“We want people to learn what role we all play in recreating a piece of the heart of our state,” she said.

Today’s event will showcase the natural forces that created the tallgrass prairie and woodland ecosystem (mainly the Ice Age), and how this natural resource has changed as it helped sustain people through the centuries.

“There will be several demonstrations, including examples of Native American and pioneer living,” Graham said.

Other hands-on activities include tagging monarch butterflies, banding prairie birds, flint knapping and making pioneer rag dolls. A hayride is scheduled, weather permitting, and there will be walking tours.

Also, the Missouri Wildflower Nursery will sell native plants for lawn and garden landscaping.

While there are no new prairie and/or Savannah areas at the park, the park is in the early stages of restoring about 10 acres of land on the south side property as you drive through the gate.

“Restoration efforts change year to year,” Graham said.

The restored grassland and Savannah areas at Burr Oak depict the subtle beauty and importance of prairies today. From a simplistic perspective, Graham said the prairie offers wide open spaces and tall grasses, especially during late September and into October when the grasses reach their maximum height.

“It’s something about the grass in the wind that’s just very relaxing,” he said.

And from a complex perspective, the prairie offers a landscape above and below ground that is vastly complex, one that naturalists and scientists alike are beginning to study more and more. There are many things going on at once, he said.

“We’re starting to look at this type of system more and more,” he said.

So have others.

According to, a website published by the Nature Publishing Group, studies in 2008 by the United States Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, conducted the first large-scale field test of switchgrass, a prairie grass that offers an estimated 540 percent more energy than the energy sown into it.

USDA officials said in 2008 that such a renewable fuel as switchgrass should be considered as a low-greenhouse-gas, high-energy biofuel source.

Research also showed that greenhouse-gas emissions from switchgrass would be 94 percent lower than emissions from petrol,

There won’t be any such studies at Burr Oak, however.

Today’s event is free.