Tallgrass prairie once covered more than 2 million acres of Wisconsin. These prairies were home to large numbers of grassland birds and other wildlife. The prairies also conserved topsoil by protecting it from wind and water erosion, captured winter snowfalls and released the spring run-off slowly, and protected the water quality of rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. Insect species, many of which are important pollinators or that attack agricultural pests, thrive in diverse grasslands. Unfortunately today only roughly 10,000 acres of tallgrass prairie remain in Wisconsin, much of it fragmented and heavily degraded. The loss of grasslands has led to serious declines in the populations of many birds that depend on grasslands. The loss has also decreased water quality due to sediment and nutrient runoff, and increased use of pesticides. Fortunately, Waterfowl Production Area grasslands continue to provide some of the best and most secure nesting cover for waterfowl, grassland dependent birds, and beneficial insect species.