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Talking Big: Lessons Learned from a 9000 Hectare Restoration in the Northern Tallgrass Prairie

Author

Listed:
  • Philip J. Gerla

    () (The Nature Conservancy and University of North Dakota, 81 Cornell Street Stop 8358, Grand Forks, ND 58202, USA)

  • Meredith W. Cornett

    () (The Nature Conservancy, 394 Lake Avenue S., Suite 308, Duluth, MN 55802, USA)

  • Jason D. Ekstein

    () (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 31077 State Hwy 32 S., Mentor, MN 56736, USA)

  • Marissa A. Ahlering

    () (The Nature Conservancy, 414 E. Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069, USA)

Abstract

Large tracts (>1000 ha) of prairie are essential to the sustainability of grassland ecosystem services, yet in many ecoregions only small fragments remain. Glacial Ridge is among the largest prairie-wetland restorations ever attempted. Started in 2000, the 9000 ha project in northwest Minnesota, USA, was initiated to reconnect 14 small tallgrass prairie remnants. In all, 15,200 ha of contiguous habitat comprise the project's direct accomplishment. We created a partnership of more than 30 organizations, filled 177 km of drainage ditch, restored 1240 ha of wetland, and replanted 8100 ha. Flooding has been mitigated, water quality improved, and native vegetation reestablished. Animals not documented for decades have again occupied the site. Despite these accomplishments, the project would have been unnecessary if the land had been purchased in the 1970s, prior to conversion to agriculture, at one-tenth the restoration cost. Our challenges related to funding, differences in partners' restoration philosophy, community concerns about floods and tax losses, difficulties in obtaining seed, and follow-up management of invasive weeds. We summarize the restoration process and share basic principles that will help others to develop large-scale prairie restoration projects in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip J. Gerla & Meredith W. Cornett & Jason D. Ekstein & Marissa A. Ahlering, 2012. "Talking Big: Lessons Learned from a 9000 Hectare Restoration in the Northern Tallgrass Prairie," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(11), pages 1-22, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:11:p:3066-3087:d:21439
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gascoigne, William R. & Hoag, Dana & Koontz, Lynne & Tangen, Brian A. & Shaffer, Terry L. & Gleason, Robert A., 2011. "Valuing ecosystem and economic services across land-use scenarios in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Dakotas, USA," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(10), pages 1715-1725, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    grassland; land-use management; conservation; landscape ecology; restoration; prairie;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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