The Nature Institute (TNI) will be providing opportunities for the public to come out to explore and learn about the Heartland Prairie, located off Route 140 across from Gordon Moore Park in Alton. From now through October, the “Heartland Prairie Walks” will give participants the chance for a guided tour through the restored natural area while identifying native plants, birds and insects. The walks are held every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m.
The next walk will be on Tuesday, August 13. All participants should wear comfortable shoes and bring water, binoculars and a plant identification book if available. Hikers will start with a discussion at the observation deck about the plants in the prairie’s newer sections until approximately 6 p.m. Those visitors who arrive after 6 p.m. will have a chance to catch up to the group. Drinks and a light snack will be served after the walk.
Dr. Patrick Dailey, professor of biology and entomology, will be the special guest for the evening. Longtime friend of TNI, Dr. Dailey has taught at Lewis & Clark Community College for over 25 years and will share is knowledge this night at the Heartland Prairie.
Those fascinated in prairie restoration are invited to come early at 5 p.m. for a short, hands-on class explaining how to start and maintain a prairie. The class will focus on identifying native plants and eliminating invasive ones. Bring questions, protective gloves and clippers, if possible.
TNI is also looking for volunteers for the “Heartland Prairie Restoration Days”, which are held every first Saturday of the month through October. Those interested in helping to maintain the beauty of the prairie by removing invasive plants and shrubs should meet at the entrance to the prairie at 9 a.m. The work will go until noon, with a light lunch being served afterwards.
The Heartland Prairie at Gordon Moore Park is owned by the City of Alton and is managed by TNI staff and volunteers through maintained trails, informative plant guides and active restoration activities including invasive species control and prescribed burns. The prairie and woodland areas are protected under a conservation easement and will remain undeveloped.
For more information on “The Heartland Prairie Walks” and “Restoration Days” or other TNI events, please call the main office at (618) 466-9930 or visit www.TheNatureInstitute.org.