Many of the greatest conservation success stories in Missouri are a result of the Department’s collaboration with partners. Partnerships include other agencies, nonprofit organizations and about 23,000 landowners each year. Bruce and Jan Sassmann, owners of Prairie Star Restoration Farm in Osage County, are two of our dedicated landowner partners in conservation. Bruce and Jan’s goal is to use their farm as an education center and an example for others on how to manage their property for fish, natural plant communities and wildlife. A lot of time and effort has gone into every project they’ve taken on, from the habitat work to the development of the education center. Prairie Star Restoration Farm is located in the middle of the Covey Junction Quail Focus Area and plays a primary role in promoting quail management.
Prairie Star Restoration Farm is 124 acres in Osage County between Bland and Belle. Historically, the farm was used for grazing and haying and was dominated by tall fescue and timber. The management plan was developed to complete many projects that included grassland, woodland and aquatic restoration, as well as the restoration of an 85-year-old barn for educational events.
The management plan for Prairie Star Restoration Farm included converting 50 acres of tall fescue to a more wildlife-friendly native warm season grass, timber stand improvement in the woodland areas, creating covey headquarters and prescribed burning. One of the most unique projects on the farm was the aquatic restoration. Bruce said, “If we’re going to intensively manage the property for bobwhite quail then why can’t we manage the pond using the same ideas?” So the pond was drained and the heavy equipment was brought in. The results looked like something you would see at a motocross race. The theory was to manage for better fish habitat just as you would manage for better quail habitat by creating more usable space and edge within the pond.
Much of the timber on the farm had been invaded by dense thickets of red cedar. In addition, it had not been managed and contained a large number of small, stunted trees that were not contributing to the health of the woodland and were shading out a diversity of understory plants. Through removal of the red cedar and thinning of the remaining timber, the Sassmanns were able to restore historic open woodlands on the property and brought back some unusual plants. After