Native Prairie in State Parks and Trails

Performance Area: Natural Lands

Acres of remnant and restored prairie in state parks and along state trails

Why Is This Important?

At the time of European settlement, Minnesota was home to 18 million acres of prairie. Today only one percent remains. Most endangered, threatened and special concern species in Minnesota are prairie dwellers. In addition, nearly 140 wildlife species found in Minnesota’s prairie parkland province have been classified as species of greatest conservation need. These species are harmed by the loss and degradation of prairies. Prairie restoration helps preserve prairie dependent species, and species of greatest conservation need such as bobolinks and grasshopper sparrows. Restored prairies can provide a seed source for future restorations. In addition, prairie restoration provides opportunities for visitors to experience a window into Minnesota’s past landscapes.

What Is DNR Doing?

A restored prairie at Lake Louise State Park in southeastern Minnesota   Image 1 of 1 (use left/right arrows to navigate previous/next)

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Minnesota statutes direct state parks to preserve, perpetuate and restore natural features and to provide maximum potential for appreciation, conservation and enjoyment of scenic and natural features through which state trails pass. The DNR starts restoration on about 500 acres of prairie each year. We manage about 18,100 acres of prairie in state parks and along state trails and have identified an additional 10,500 acres in need of restoration. Some excellent places to see remnant/restored prairie in state parks and trails are: Blue Mounds State Park (Rock County), Crow Wing State Park (Crow Wing County), Frontenac State Park (Goodhue County), and Glendalough State Park (Ottertail County)

Target: Initiate restoration of at least 500 acres of prairie annually.

The DNR’s long-term goal is to manage 30,000 acres of remnant and restored prairie in the state park and trail system. At the current average of 500 acres restored per year, this will be achieved by 2040. Prairie restoration includes selecting appropriate species for the restoration site, preparing the site, planting seed, and following up with activities such as mowing and treatment of invasive species. These steps typically take 3-5 years to complete before a prairie is re-established.