Prairie Protection for Landowners

Prairie with monarch butterfly on liatris


Why protect native prairie?


Prior to European settlement, more than 18 million acres of prairie covered Minnesota. A wealth of diverse species, habitats and cultures thrived here. With its fertile soil and nutritious grasses, prairie became the basis for an agricultural empire. Today, less than two percent of Minnesota's native prairie remains  . It is North America's most endangered habitat type. The near elimination of native prairie has inspired many efforts to protect remaining parcels.


Benefits of protecting prairie

Prairies occur in open landscapes dominated by a diversity of grasses and forbs (wildflowers).  But, prairies are more than grass and flowers. They're entire ecosystems of flowering plants, ferns, lichens, mammals, birds, bees, butterflies, beetles, bacteria, fungi and thousands of other different organisms! All of which interact with one another in a complex web. Prairies provide valuable habitat for Minnesota wildlife and contribute to Minnesotan's quality of life:

Providing Habitat

  • Prairie produces food, cover, and nesting sites for a wide variety of wildlife
    • Of special note is the critical habitat prairie provides for pollinators (bees, butterflies, etc.)
  • Wildlife and native plants have developed together over thousands of years

Providing Clean Water

  • Prairies trap nutrients and sediment
  • Prairies promote water infiltration (reducing erosion)
  • Prairies recharge groundwater

Developing Healthy Soils

  • Prairie plant roots break down into rich organic matter
  • Water holding capacity of these rich soils is very high

Boosting Rural Economies

  • Livestock grazing and haying can benefit both the prairie and sustainable agriculture practices
  • Hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities bring visitors needing food, lodging, gas, etc.





Guides to Prairie Restoration in Minnesota

Going Native: A Prairie Restoration Handbook for Minnesota Landowners 

How to Use Native Plants for Landscaping and Restoration in Minnesota 

Native Plant Suppliers and Landscapers in Minnesota

Minnesota's Native Plant Communities

Prairie Pod Podcasts

Roadsides for Wildlife

For more information

Minnesota Scientific & Natural Areas

Minnesota Soil and Water Conservation Districts 

The Nature Conservancy - Minnesota Chapter 

Northern Tallgrass Prairie Project (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) 

Ducks Unlimited: Conservation  

Pheasants Forever: Habitat Conservation