Located in western Minnesota’s Traverse County, Miller Prairie preserves two remnants of native tallgrass prairie, which is considered by many scientists the most imperiled type of grassland in the world. In this county alone, less than 1 percent of its lands contain intact natural plant communities. Most of county now is used for agriculture.
Miller Prairie consists of two parcels of land that are about 1.5 miles apart. Both pieces of land were donated in 1999 to TNC by the Miller family.
Why TNC Selected This Site
Other than Malmberg Prairie in Polk County, these two tracts of land are the only other sizeable remnant prairies in the Agassiz Lucustrine Plain. Because there is not a beach-ridge zone here, however, they are more like true lake-plain prairies. Miller Prairie gave the Conservancy an opportunity to preserve this rare remnant.
What TNC Has Done/Is Doing
TNC’s management plan encourages the diverse prairie plant and animal communities found here to thrive. This plan includes controlled fires and periodic haying, which help native plants flourish. The Millers—recognizing the important role fire plays in this ecosystem—conducted fires long before TNC acquired this land.
A recent study of the plants that live here was used in a restoration plan. The study determined that because of the grazing practices that had occurred in previous years, the grazed portions of the preserve lacked some of the biodiversity that was found in the portions of the preserve that were ungrazed.
To increase the diversity of the grazed areas, TNC staff initiated a restoration plan that included a fall harvest of native seeds from the more diverse areas of Miller Prairie. The next spring, those seeds were planted into the former pasture area. Using occasional burning, haying and grazing, TNC stewards will continue to manage this diverse native prairie site using the best science available.