On September 17, 2016, Carl Gerhardt and Dayna Glanz hosted a reception celebrating the grand opening of Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri’s new Big Sky Nature Preserve.
The preserve is roughly 15 acres near Easley, MO, that includes a spectacular limestone bluff overlooking the Missouri River, beautiful woodlands, and an oak savanna atop the bluff that represents one of the rarest natural communities in Mid-Missouri. Gerhardt and Glanz, who had owned the property since the late 1990s and conducted extensive habitat restoration work, donated it to the land trust in 2015.
“We are honored to take on the stewardship of this incredible property,” said Mike Powell, Executive Director at Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri. “Carl and Dayna have done an outstanding job managing the enormous natural resources on the preserve, and we are so pleased to carry on their legacy.”
Oak savanna, a habitat type characterized by a sparse tree canopy with a dense ground cover of prairie grasses and forbs, were once common on top of Ozark bluffs in central and southern Missouri. However, as natural fires were suppressed, maple and cedar species from the surrounding woodlands have encroached and closed in the open space needed by the understory species. Soil erosion and human impact have further imperiled the natural community, and now it faces extirpation from the state.
Due to the rarity and fragility of this rare habitat type, the nature preserve is not open to the public, and may only be visited with Greenbelt Land Trust’s permission. The reception on September 17th, which was sponsored by Bleu Events, Bur Oak Brewery, and Les Bourgeois Winery, included a guided hike to give invited guests the opportunity to see the property up close.