Since European contact in North America, more than 99% of tallgrass prairie has been destroyed primarily because of conversion to agricultural uses. Undisturbed, tall grass cover is not only valuable for nesting waterfowl, it provides habitat for other species, including pheasants, grouse, bitterns, northern harriers, short-eared owls, and many passerine birds.
Native grasses have root systems between five and nine feet deep, and because of this are excellent for long-term erosion control. They also grow well on poor soil because their deep roots can gain access to nutrients and water that shallower roots cannot reach. Introduced grasses, such as brome, are more easily established and are less expensive, but the cover often deteriorates in poor soil conditions as the sod opens up and weeds invade.
Native grass stands require several years to reach maturity, and usually require mowing in the midsummer during their first and second years. Once fully established, however, there are very few weeds which can compete with native grasses for nutrients and water in the soil.