Valley View Glades Natural Area in Hillsboro, MO
Valley View Glades represent the extensive complex of glades that run from the east part of the Big River, adjacent to Morse Mill, and stretch across and beyond Hillsboro. The Natural Area also extends to include Desoto and Festus. The 2-5 mile band extension stretches eastward and south into Ste. Genevieve County. This soil at the surface and bedrock underneath characterize these forested ridges. During spring and winter, the ground becomes saturated with water. However, summer and fall make it a little droughty. Regardless, human activity has not significantly affected these glades. The Jefferson County Business Association extensively highlights this natural attraction and encourages tourists to come and visit the glades to enjoy the stunning beauty of nature.
The wild animals and plants currently found in this area are same as those that were initially here during the period of settlement. Little and big bluestem, prairie dropseed, and Indian grass, are some of the grass species that dominate this region, while non-grass species are a great source of food for the wildlife. They also enhance the landscape and add glamor to glades, making them look beautiful when blooming during seasonal peaks. Periodic prescribed fire play a role in maintaining the glades. In addition, cedar removal is also an important activity in maintenance.
Visitors have a chance to experience and learn about more than 250 native-plant species besides the numerous glade-adapted species. Blooming can be more active between spring and fall. These glade plants have highly adapted to handle the tough drought conditions. Slender sandwort is just one of the glade plants that normally flower and produce seeds before the end of spring because the glades are generally wet during this period. Plants like prairie dock have become so adapted to the glades that they have evolved into having deep roots that help them draw up water from deep within the soil when the summer months become too dry.
While having fun walking around, don’t forget to scan for the 25+ native butterfly species. The glade is also a home to indigo buntings, prairie warblers, field sparrows, as well as eastern towhees. Were it not for the illegal hunting of reptiles that went on for several years, you would have had the chance to treat yourself to a great view of the reptile community that was once the region’s pride and source of joy. However, ensure you do not leave with anything from this area, including plants, rocks and the magnificent collection of beautiful butterflies. What happens in Valley View Glades stays there!
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