The Grassland Restoration Network is a loose affiliation of people trying to use prairie restoration (reconstruction) as a way to rebuild, conserve and sustain grassland ecosystems. Each year, we put on a workshop to share ideas, techniques, research results, and stories with other. Workshops are hosted by a different site each year, giving us the opportunity to visit a range of projects over the years.
The next workshop will be hosted here in central Nebraska (near Grand Island) on September 13 and 14, 2016. We’ll visit sites owned by both Prairie Plains Resource Institute and The Nature Conservancy (Platte River Prairies). As always, we will compare notes on restoration techniques and we will look at a variety of plantings, from brand new to more then 20 years old. In addition, however, we will talk about how to evaluate the success of restoration projects beyond simply counting plant species. We will tour restored sites with a number of researchers who have helped us see whether we’re actually restoring ecological function at our Platte River Prairies – including whether or not we are defragmenting the landscape for a variety of insect and animal species.
Bill Kleiman (white hat) leads a tour of a restored prairie at The Nature Conservancy’s Nachusa Grassland during the 2014 Grassland Restoration Network workshop.
Grassland Restoration Network workshops typically include people from around the Central United States and beyond. I hope you’ll consider attending this workshop to learn from others and contribute your ideas and experiences. The cost will be kept as low as possible, and will probably include primarily food and lodging.
You can click on the following links to read reports from the last couple of workshops (2014, 2015) and to see a collection of lessons learned by network members.
The 2015 Grassland Restoration Network Workshop is coming up in just a few weeks. This year’s workshop will be located at Moorhead State University’s Regional Science Center and The Nature Conservancy’s Bluestem Prairie near Hawley, Minnesota. As with previous workshops, this one will focus on both the nuts and bolts of converting cropland to high-diversity prairie and broader issues regarding how to make prairie restoration as effective as possible from a landscape conservation perspective. This year, we will be visiting a range of interesting restoration sites, including The Nature Conservancy’s Bluestem Prairie and Glacial Ridge Project, Prairie Restoration Inc.’s Bluestem Farm, and several federal and state restoration projects in northwestern Minnesota. It should be a great opportunity to learn from the successes and challenges faced by people restoring prairie in that part of the country. I’m really looking forward to it.
Soils tour during the 2014 Grassland Restoration Network Conference at The Nature Conservancy’s Nachusa Grasslands Preserve in Illinois.
Registration has been limited to keep numbers manageable for tours, but there are slots available if you’re interested in joining us this year. You can see the agenda and registration information here.
I hope to see you in northwest Minnesota next month!