Minnesota Prairie Recovery Project

Under the Minnesota Prairie Recovery Project The Nature Conservancy manages its property as working  lands that are also open to the public.

When European settlers first came to Minnesota in the mid-1800s, much of the western and southwestern parts of the state were blanketed with a vast “sea of grass,” part of an immense grassland that stretched from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. Today most of those grasslands are gone, having been plowed under or paved over long ago. What remains is threatened by invasive species, fire suppression, energy development and conversion to other land uses.

The Nature Conservancy has launched the Minnesota Prairie Recovery Project to protect the remaining 90,000 acres of native prairie and savanna in the state and restore thousands of acres of degraded prairie and prairie/wetland habitat. The project will increase capacity for grassland restoration and test innovative economic models for sustainable long-term prairie management that also benefit local communities.  

The project is a collaborative effort that includes the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pheasants Forever, Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society and The Nature Conservancy.

Project Accomplishments

Initiated with funding from the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Fund in 2010, the project encompasses five core prairie landscapes in western and southwestern Minnesota and to date has:

•    Protected more than 5,600 acres of grassland, prairie pothole complex, and/or savanna.

•    Restored 460 acres of additional grasslands and wetlands.  

•    Enhanced more than 72,000 acres of grassland/wetland complex on public lands to increase native species diversity and improve critical wildlife habitat.  Management techniques include controlled burns, conservation grazing and/or haying, removal of woody vegetation, and mechanical and chemical control of invasive species.  

Benefits to Local Communities

Grasslands acquired through the Minnesota Prairie Recovery Project will be open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking and other types of outdoor recreation.

Questions about the Minnesota Prairie Recovery Project should be directed to Neal Feeken via email.



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