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The Westport Garden Club Partners for Plants Program

 

March 04, 2021

Restoring a Native Prairie in Kansas City

Members of The Westport Garden Club (WGC) took advantage of a beautiful fall day to participate in seed gathering at Jerry Smith Park, the largest remaining tract of remnant prairie on the Missouri side of Kansas City. The day’s bounty included seeds from American Germander, Little Bluestem, Rattlesnake Master, and more.

Jerry Smith Prairie Park is a remnant of an original American landscape – tallgrass prairie. At least fifteen million acres of Missouri, covering more than a third of the state, were prairie at the time of European settlement. Bison, elk, greater prairie-chickens, and many other animals roamed across these grasslands. With abundant wildlife and up to 800 different kinds of grasses, wildflowers, and other plants, prairie is one of the most biologically rich ecosystems on Earth.

The seed collection effort is part of the WGC’s Partner for Plants (P4P) program, a collaboration that began in 2009 when the club partnered with Kansas City Wildlands (a partnership between the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Kansas City Department of Parks & Recreation) to help fund spot spraying of invasive Sericea lespedeza and eradication of bush honeysuckle. In 2016, P4P grant money helped fund a species study by Justin Thomas from The Institute of Botanical Training. More recently, grant money has been used to fund Kansas City Wildlands program coordinator and seed tech, Jacob Canyon, who along with volunteers, collects, identifies, and documents the important seeds. As of March 2020, more than 1,500 volunteer hours had been logged, and more than 159 native, local genotype species have been collected, including eight high conservation value species.  

Partners for Plants is a joint program of The Garden Club of America's Conservation and Horticulture committees to monitor and conserve rare plants, restore native habitats, and remove invasive weeds on federal, state, and local public lands. Partners for Plants (P4P) volunteers have partnered with land agencies to conserve a variety of natural open spaces throughout the United States. Since the program's beginning in 1992, the GCA has funded 210 projects with grant funds ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 each. Over the past five years, the GCA has granted $250,000 for P4P.

 

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