Prior to European settlement, more than 18 million acres of prairie covered Minnesota. Our prairie lands were part of the largest ecosystem in North America, which stretched from Canada to Mexico and from the Rockies to Indiana. A wealth of diverse species, habitats and cultures thrived here.
With its fertile soil, nutritious grasses and aura of possibility, prairie became the basis for an agricultural empire. It also influenced our sense of national identity. View an illustration of native grass root depth compared to that of introduced grasses.
Today, less than one percent of Minnesota's native prairie remains. The near elimination of native prairie has inspired many efforts to protect remaining parcels. Map of extent of Minnesota's native prairie 2011 . Recently prairie conservationists from multiple organizations developed the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan – 2010 as a road map for protecting, restoring and enhancing prairies over the next 25-years.
Another way you can help is to plan a restoration for your own land. Going Native: A Prairie Restoration Handbook for Minnesota Landowners (1.3 mb) can help you get started.
For more information
The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota
1101 West River Parkway, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN 55415-1291
Tel. (612) 331-0750
Northern Tallgrass Prairie Project
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge
Rt. 1, Box 25
Odessa, MN 56276