Hardin County is home to acres of beautiful and diverse prairie lands. Some of the best can be found at Anders Wildlife Area, Arthur Hilker Wildlife Area and Pine Ridge.
What is a Prairie?
A large open grassland with many different species such as forbs, wildflowers, shrubs, animal and microorganisms. Prairies are very diverse, for example they may be: dry mesic or wet, tall or short grasses, grassy or more forb-based, sunny or shaded, and even have elevation differences of lowland grasslands to sandy highland grasslands.
- Habitat: Prairie provides a vast variety of living areas for insects, amphibians, reptile, and mammals. The area provides a food source, protection from predators and climate, as well as nesting areas. An example would be pheasant habitat which a prairie provides supple insects and plants for both adults and hatchlings.
- Pollinators: Pollinators such as butterflies and bees, in the United States are currently having a pretty tough go of it. There are major efforts underway at the federal, state, and county levels to provide crucial quality habitat for migration stop overs throughout the Midwest. Hardin County has been selected as one of the major target areas for the North American Continent. In 2015, Hardin County Conservation has seeded 28 acres of prairie in Sac and Fox Overlook with another 3 acres completed near Daisy Long Campground. With such an emphasis being put on the Monarch Butterfly and other pollinator species, there will be much more prairie reconstructions completed in the years to come.
- Soil: Prairies provide a natural filtering system for watersheds. As water drains into the watershed it often passes prairies which have extensive root systems. The elaborate roots can go several feet below the surface in great abundance. The average prairie plan can have roots of 10-12 feet with some having roots upwards of 15 feet. The intricate system not only acts as a foundation for soil and nutrients but it extracts nutrients from water that would otherwise run into watersheds, greatly hindering water quality.
Prairies in Hardin County
Hardin County Conservation manages throughout Hardin County in their parks and wildlife areas. Click on link below to view a seris of photos taken of the Pine Ridge Prairie taken from October 2013 to July 2015 from the same location. These photos highlight the natural beauty and diversity that results from proper prairie managment.
Pine Ridge Prairie Photo Series