• Green tractor and farm equipment plowing field.

    WHY a Prairies Conservation Campaign?

    Picture of drainage

    “Historically, comparable grassland conversion rates

    have not been seen in the Corn Belt since the 1920s and 1930s...”


    Based on Wright and Wimberly, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/
    content/short/1215404110

    Picture of drainage

    "Losses of freshwater marsh also outdistanced gains in certain portions of the country including the prairie pothole region States of –
    North Dakota,
    South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa."

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Conterminous United States 2004 to 2009

    The Time to Act is Now

    Within the U.S. portion of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) millions of acres of native prairie and imbedded pothole wetlands provide habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, waterbirds and songbirds. Grassland conversion continues to expand westward, posing conservation challenges to some of the most important breeding habitat for waterfowl in North America. Other impacts include a reduction in bird diversity across the region and accruement of a significant carbon debt. The development of landowner incentives to maintain grasslands becomes critically important.

    Prairie Pothole Region
  • Photo of open prairie grassland.

    WHY the PRAIRIES MATTER

    One acre of established tallgrass prairie
    can absorb
    9 inches of rainfall
    per hour
    before runoff occurs.

    Photo of long leaf pines

    Prairies can store much more carbon below ground than a forest can store above ground.

    The region is commonly referred to as

    America’s ‘duck factory’

    because it is the most productive area for nesting waterfowl on the continent.

    Native prairie
    roots are the

    BEST
    natural soil
    anchors on
    earth.

    Native Prairie supports a
    healthy ranching
    industry.

    Image of the Prairies Conservation Campaign info graphic.

    Click the image above to view our infographic, The Power of the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region (PPR)

    The Value of the Prairies:

    The Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) is arguably one of the most important wetland regions in the world. The PPR portions of North and South Dakota alone contain more than 19 million acres of grassland, including millions of temporary, seasonal and permanent wetlands. More than 50% of North American migratory waterfowl depend on its mix of wetlands and grasslands. This area is called the “duck factory” because it is the most productive area for nesting waterfowl on the continent.

    Functional grassland and wetland ecosystems not only protect the watersheds in which they occur, but also protect downstream waterways and communities. Together, prairie grasslands interspersed with wetlands provide numerous societal benefits, including filtering water, reducing erosion and sedimentation, and absorbing flood waters. When these grasslands and wetlands are lost, serious impacts are felt further downstream in the Mississippi River Basin. Such habitat losses in the PPR have been linked to creation of the hypoxic area, or “dead zone”, which currently exists in the northern Gulf of Mexico adjacent to the Mississippi River.

  • photo of cows in a field

    POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS

    Conserve working landscapes based on ranching and livestock operations that support a viable livestock industry.

    image of a pasture

    Building and maintaining relationships with private landowners
    will be
    critical to
    conservation
    delivery.

    Solutions:

    It is critical that we raise public awareness about these issues that are occurring across the PPR. We are working with our partners to find conservation solutions, additional resources, and win-win solutions for landowners. In order to do this, one of our primary goals is to increase opportunities for voluntary incentive-based tools to keep cattle producers profitable. This will ensure that the region has healthy fish and wildlife populations, healthy soil and water resources, and an assurance that ranch families will always be an integral and profitable component of the region’s economy.

    How Can You Contribute:


    • Support conservation programs that benefit sustainable agriculture.
    • Consider implementing grassland and wetland conservation practices on your land.
    • Design and support programming that will have desired conservation outcomes with benefits and high acceptance amongst individual landowners, farmers and ranchers.