NORTHERN PRAIRIES LAND TRUST PLAYS KEY ROLE IN EXPANDING BISON RANGE IN BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK
As the result of a complex land exchange in which Northern Prairie played a key role, 30,000 additional acres of bison range has been added in Badlands National Park, allowing for the expansion of the bison herd to about 1,000 head – the size recommended as a minimum for maintaining genetic diversity. The exchange has been described as one of the most important events in Park history, and a huge step forward in protecting native grasslands species of all kinds.
Conservation Easements Maintain a Legacy
Fairbury, NE – Cattle will be grazing on the prairie hills southwest of Fairbury, Nebraska, for generations to come thanks to landowners interested in preserving the land for their family. In July of this year Jim and Ann McCord granted a 1043 Acre perpetual conservation easement to Northern Prairies Land Trust that would prohibit cropping and development, yet maintain the property as a working cattle ranch.
Local Riparian Easement Programs Rise Again
There are two riparian easement programs operating to protect the local watersheds. The programs involve both a revival of a proven program, the Big Sioux River Conservation Easement Program, now entitled East Dakota Riparian Restoration and Protection Project, (EDRRPP) and the initiation of a new program as part of the Central Big Sioux River Watershed Project.
Quail Prairie is a small but very important remnant of the great tallgrass prairies which has been recognized for years as being one of incredible native diversity. A portion of the property that has never been plowed or grazed by livestock has tremendous plant diversity. Last year, an inventory of the plant diversity was started including a Floristic Quality Index which ranks the quality of the plants on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. To date, 163 individual species have been identified and many of those are ranked 8, 9 or 10. Here is a sampling of Quail Prairie.
Nebraska Environmental Trust Projects
Eastern Cedars Thinning on Prairies
A major problem on the native prairie lands of Nebraska is the invasive Eastern Cedar. This tree was introduced because it is hardy and provides good cover in shelter belts. Unfortunately, it likes to spread out through the open prairie, crowding out native grasses and eliminating livestock forage. As shown in the two pictures below cedar trees can be successfully removed, allowing restoration of the native prairie plants. (Top picture is before, bottom is after.)