A New Beginning

The vast unbroken tall grass prairie that blanketed Iowa is gone. Hopelessly lost forever to the plow and the herbicides that followed. What little is left exists in fragments, like tiny specks in a sea of corn, soybeans, and ditches of smooth brome grass and other non-native species that man introduced to replace the prairie.

The fragments and preserves of tall grass prairie continue to be chipped away year by year by more plowing, herbicides, and neglect. Fragments of true prairie that Ada Hayden measured in acres can now be measured in square feet. Mankind has still not widely recognized the value of tall grass prairie, and so it continues to evaporate from the face of the Earth.

The ONLY hope for the tall grass prairie and its plant and animal species is to RESTORE the tall grass prairie. There are no other viable option because virgin aces of tall grass prairie no longer exist to be preserved. This is a new beginning in terms of prairie preservation.

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2 thoughts on “A New Beginning

  1. we have about an acre of ground that has not been farmed for years…I would love to turn it into a tall grass prairie (or something similar)…I love it for all of the same reasons you articulated in your other post. Our 100 yr old farm house sits on 4 acres….(the other 3 acres consist of old barns, an apple orchard and a large windbreak. My biggest problem is funding. Let me know if there are any programs available to help with funding. I would turn that acre back into prairie in a heartbeat. Thanks! DM

    • DM: Thanks for the comment! As for starting a restoration, if you know of any prairie remnants, I’d recommend collecting seed in the Fall yourself for free. Collecting might be forbidden on prairie preserves, but for the restoration we started, we scoured ditches and railroad right of ways and were able to find all of the common prairie species like Big Bluestem, Indian grass , Pale Purple Coneflower, Purple prairie clover, compass plant, Prairie Blazingstar, etc. The first year we had enough seed for about 1/2 an acre. The next Fall we repeated the process and did about another 1/2 acre. Then it was just a matter of weeding and controlled burns to maintain it.

      Restoring a prairie takes patience and a few years before it fully gets established. Take time and enjoy the process of learning to identify the prairie plants and scout out remnant prairie now while the plants are blooming so you can come back for seed in the Fall.

      We knew we did a good job on our restoration because about 10 years ago we got a phone call from our county roadside management asking if our small prairie was virgin prairie or restored. They couldn’t tell the difference! I also want to mention that I’ve had good luck with seed from the Prairie Moon Nursery. They have some relatively inexpensive seed mixes and you can buy seed of rarer species to add to your restoration later. Hope this helps.

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