US Army Corps of Engineers
Kansas City District

Prairie

 

The lake area is located in a portion of the only remaining extensive humid tallgrass prairie. The climax cover is a mixture of tall and midgrasses characteristic of the true prairie. Examples of predominant plants are the bluestems, switchgrass, indiangrass, gramas, goldenrods, sunflowers, and native legumes.

Such native prairie associations have survived in pure stands for centuries because of two conditions. The first is available moisture. Because native warm season grasses grow well in the heat of summer, they provide excellent competition for moisture with the various woody species.

The second factor, fire, restricts woody encroachment of native prairies. Historically, fire periodically swept across the prairie, killing back young woody growth and stimulating additional grass production. Thus, primary woody invaders, such as eastern red cedar, honeylocust, and rough-leaved dogwood, could not become established.

Grasslands around the lake attract a varied array of wildlife, such as coyotes, voles, prairie chickens, meadowlarks, and upland sandpipers. These areas produce valuable seed crops, grasses, legumes, and wild herbaceous plants. Areas overgrown with herbs, shrubs, and vines attract quail, pheasants, field sparrows, rabbits, and foxes.