The Nature Conservancy announced today that it has acquired 160 acres of native prairie in Polk County in northwest Minnesota with funding from the state’s Outdoor Heritage Fund. This is the second acquisition by the Conservancy under its Minnesota Prairie Recovery Project.
The Conservancy will manage the property with prescribed burns and conservation grazing in order to preserve the diversity of native plants and wildlife that rely on the property and adjacent lands. Prairie plants historically were grazed by wildlife such as bison. The property has previously been used for grazing. The Conservancy plans to lease the land for cattle grazing to conserve native prairie plants and to generate income that will be used to pay property taxes.
Like most of the Conservancy’s preserves in Minnesota, the property will be open to the public for outdoor recreation including hunting, birding and hiking. This is also consistent with requirements under the constitutional language that established the Outdoor Heritage Fund.
“Grasslands are the most threatened and least protected habitat in the United States and around the world,” said Peggy Ladner, Director of The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota. “Conservation grazing helps keep grasslands working for both nature and the citizens of Minnesota.”
The property is in the township of Grove Park and is adjacent to both Mentor Prairie Wildlife Management Area, which the Conservancy helped establish, and Dalea Wildlife Management Area. Its conservation provides additional habitat for wildlife including prairie chickens and sandhill cranes. Grassland nesting birds such as Wilson’s phalaropes, marbled godwits and upland sandpipers will also benefit. Because the property borders two wildlife management areas, its conservation will make it easier to maintain all of the properties in good natural condition including by controlling invasive species.
The Nature Conservancy’s Minnesota Prairie Recovery Project is an innovative effort to conserve and manage the state’s remaining prairies. Prior to European settlement, there were more than 18 million acres of prairie in the state. Only about 220,000 acres or one percent remain today, according to the Minnesota County Biological Survey. About half of the state’s remaining prairies are unprotected and at risk of being plowed up or paved over.
Funding for this project was provided by the Outdoor Heritage Fund, which was created under the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, through an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature as recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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