Did you know that prairies are incredibly complex systems? They are powerhouses at production. In fact, those rich deep soils are why much of this area has been converted to agriculture and now serves as the “breadbasket” for the U.S. But when we are trying to recreate prairie, that very complexity is what makes it incredibly difficult to restore some of what has been lost.
Think about it like this: we’re essentially building a Lego set after our dog ate half the instructions and some of the pieces. So, now we have to put our heads together, fill in those gaps and better match what was built perfectly the first time.
One more analogy: you wouldn’t expect to plant a tree seedling and have an old-growth forest the next year. The same is true for prairie reconstructions. They take time. LOTS of time. And patience.
As Nature Conservancy Prairie Ecologist Chris Helzer says, “A climax prairie, just like a climax forest, consists of thousands of different organisms, plants, animals, inverts, bacteria and soil fungi that rely on complex interactions of nutrient, moisture and energy flows to create and provide them with the food, water and shelter that they need to survive.”
While we work on rebuilding and restoring the prairie landscape, it’s helpful to have a plan. Enter The MN Prairie Conservation Plan. This plan is not just dusty pages sitting on a shelf. It’s a living partnership of people united from different agencies, organizations, and landowners who have come together to help preserve prairie. Isn’t it nice when we work together toward a common goal?
And what better common goal than making sure that a Monarch emerging from a chrysalis, a bee carrying orangey-red pollen from a purple prairie clover, and endless prairie horizons of golden-tipped grasses and splashes of color from blooming wildflowers are not just an intriguing part of our past but a rich part of our future.
Well, what are you waiting for? Go frolic in a prairie why dontcha!
Mind blown? Ready for more? To learn more about our amazing prairies and the wildlife that live there go here: mndnr.gov/prairiepod