You know the place. That portion of your land too hilly, rocky, wet or steep to plow... where beautiful wildflowers bloom spring through fall... you pasture livestock there part of the year... maybe put the grass up for hay... hunt deer and pheasants in the fall... walk out there with your family on warm sunny days... meadowlarks and prairie chickens, songbirds and butterflies abound. It's your piece of native prairie.
Your family has been stewards of this land for 20, 50 or a hundred years. Or, you're a more recent landowner. Regardless, you're concerned. That prairie is a special place you want to preserve for future generations; the agricultural lifestyle is one you hope to maintain. And you're wondering, given today's economics, how to do both.
There is a way. Enroll your land in a Native Prairie Bank.
See one family's decision to place their prairie land into a Native Prairie Bank conservation easement
A Native Prairie Bank easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The landowner agrees to manage the land under an easement in ways that protect the native prairie in exchange for an upfront, one-time payment. Each easement is tailored to the unique character of the land and desires of the landowner, with common protection features such as no plowing or building on the native prairie. The easement leaves ownership in the hands of the property owners who may continue to enjoy it, manage it as part of their working farm, sell it, or pass it down to heirs, but the agreement remains with the land.
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, stretching from Canada to Mexico and from the Rockies to Indiana. 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. Native Prairie Bank is one of those efforts.
Northern Tallgrass Prairie Project (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)