Over the last 150 years, western Minnesota has seen unprecedented landscape changes. Today, less than 1% of Minnesota’s native prairie habitat remains. Of that, only one-third is permanently protected.
To compound the problem, one million acres of Minnesota grassland enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program will expire in the next five years, leaving an uncertain future ahead for wildlife habitat.
A functional conservation strategy for privately owned working lands is a necessary component of successful wildlife habitat management in west central Minnesota.
The Minnesota Land Trust, in partnership with The Conservation Fund and the Board of Soil and Water Resources and with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, is piloting a program that uses conservation easements to help stem the loss of grasslands and provide wildlife benefits while allowing livestock producers to maintain their herds.
This pilot program works with conservation-minded owners of working grasslands, like Jess and Tammy Berge.