Connecting with the Land and Leaving a Legacy

When Margaret Newton connects to the land it is through her mother’s legacy. Her mother, Ella Alford, used to say,

“Just remember – you can’t grow any more land.”  

Growing up, Margaret knew the joy of being out in the Missouri Ozarks – spending time at a cabin on what came to be known as Alford Forest. Margaret said ever since she was “itty bitty” she remembers visiting Rainbow Trout Farm, playing on Bryant Creek, and enjoying the outdoors. As a child, Margaret just knew she enjoyed being on the land.

A beautiful Ozark gorge

Ella's Gorge - Alford Forest, Missouri

Years later, and especially after her mother passed in 2005, Margaret realized it was more than just enjoyment of the outdoors that her mother instilled in her; it was a lifelong legacy of love and appreciation for the beauty of the Ozarks.  

Today, Margaret stands and looks out her back window toward a small mountain full of trees, and she notes,

“There is nothing pretty about a scalped mountain.”  

Ella knew that too, and upon her death, she gave 3,200 of these beautiful acres to Ozark Regional Land Trust to protect and conserve forever. The carefree joys that are part of childhood take on a deeper meaning as years roll by. At her mother’s memorial service, Margaret remembers a man standing up to speak about Ella’s love for beautiful wildflowers. Ella was known for planting daffodils, Indian paintbrush, and other wildflowers along the highway.

Today, Margaret plants wildflowers around her house each spring, as she gazes across the same land her mother loved and tended. Ella planted more than wildflowers. She planted a legacy and love of the land which lives on in Margaret, Margaret’s husband Danny, their two children, Daniel and Claire, and all of us who enjoy the special presence that is a part of the Ozark land.

The Excitement of Burning Woods Prairie

On Friday, February 3, ORLT, the Missouri Prairie Foundation, and several volunteers helped with a prescribed burn on a portion of Woods Prairie Nature Preserve in Lawrence County, MO.

An Ozark prairie ablaze with orange flames With smoke billowing through the air, flames creeping ever-forward through the grass, and several local fire experts scurrying around to make sure the fire doesn’t escape to unwanted areas, the fire was definitely a sight to see.

Why burn prairie that still exemplifies last year’s growth of wildflowers and native grasses?Until modern times,

Until modern times, fire was a natural part of life for our native prairies. Wildfires, caused by lightning or started by  Native Americans,  led to the plants on the prairie adapting to fire. Land disturbance and suppression of fire by European settlers led to high levels of competition from non-native plants and, in most cases, the non-native species out-competed the prairie species.

Scorched earth after an Ozark prairie is set ablazeUnfortunately, non-native plants do not support the array of wildlife species that prefer native prairies, such as the elusive grasshopper sparrow or the numerous bees that help pollinate our gardens and crop fields. Most of the non-native plants are not fire-adapted so by burning prairie remnants, ORLT, MPF, and many others are restoring the prairies to their natural states.Although the burned scar left on Woods Prairie (owned by ORLT) isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing now; time, precipitation, and a bank of dormant plants and seeds will sprout this spring

Although the burned scar left on Woods Prairie (owned by ORLT) isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing now; time, precipitation, and a bank of dormant plants and seeds will sprout this spring to  a showy mix of native wildflowers and grasses. Check back in with ORLT in June to see how Woods Prairie has been revived by the natural cycle of fire.

Support ORLT on Give Ozarks Day May 9th, 2017! (your donation will be matched!)

The word "#giveozarks" transparent atop a fall foliage vista

You can help raise $10,000 for the ORLT permanent Operating Endowment during the Give Ozarks 24-hour online fundraising blitz on May 9, 2017.  All donations that day will be matched by Community Foundation of the Ozarks (Springfield, MO) dollar for dollar, up to $5000.00.  Stay tuned for more information - your support is needed to make Give Ozarks a success as cash prizes and additional grants are awarded throughout the day!

ORLT will once again be part of Give Ozarks Day! Give Ozarks is a one-day, online fundraising event for nonprofit partners organized by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO).

Watch the land preservation community strengthen as people come together for the common goal of protecting our Ozarks - your support is needed to make Give Ozarks a success as cash prizes and additional grants are awarded throughout the day!

Give Ozarks 2017

Join Our Upcoming Volunteer Workday Events at ORLT’s Sarcoxie Cave & Spring Project

A lush green spring leading into a dark cave

When: Saturdays, March 4 & March 18, 9:00 – 1:00 (or later)
Where: Here
Contact: Andy at 417-669-2976
What to bring: Bring work gloves, loppers, hand-saws, rakes, shovels, trash bags, drinking water, a picnic lunch, and a friend.

Sarcoxie Cave and Spring is one of ORLT’s most unique and important projects.  The main features of the site are a scenic bluff, historic cave, springs, and spring branch system that provide habitat for the endangered Ozark cavefish and the rare Arkansas darter fish.

ORLT and the City of Sarcoxie have teamed up to transform this special place into a low-impact public park with a trail and pond, while protecting and enhancing the critical natural features. We need to clean up the site and focus efforts on restoring it to a natural Ozark habitat.

sarcoxie2The Missouri Department of Conservation has awarded ORLT a grant to assist with this effort. We will be planting native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, removing weeds, weedy vines, and brush, and cleaning up trash.  We also need volunteers with carpentry skills to repair the picturesque footbridge over the spring branch.

ORLT is reviving its Stream Team which had collected water quality data from the spring branch there for years.  Anyone with interest in Stream Teams or water quality monitoring is encouraged to join us.

There is no electricity or drinking water at the site. Bring work gloves, loppers, hand-saws, rakes, shovels, trash bags, drinking water, a picnic lunch, and a friend.  Children are welcome.

Call Andy at 417-669-2976 with any questions.

Thanks for your help!

Turn by turn directions to Sarcoxie Cave and Spring:

Sarcoxie Cave and Spring is right off the town square in Sarcoxie, MO.  From east or west on Highway 44, take Sarcoxie exit #29 and go south into town. Just past a small grocery on the left, turn left on 5th Street. Go one block to the square and turn right onto Cross Street. Continue straight ahead just past the square, cross a small bridge and railroad track and you are there.

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