Did you know that tallgrass prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world with less than one percent of virgin, untilled prairie left? Or that we have some of the best remaining swathes of prairie right here in Pope County, MN? On the rolling hills at Glacial Lakes State Park, nearly 150 people from all over the state gathered on Saturday, starting as early as 5 A.M. and staying until long past dark, to learn more about tallgrass prairie and its management. Tallgrass prairie needs disturbance to thrive.
Many of us have seen the controlled burns used as part of prairie management, but fewer know that prairie also needs animal impact to maintain its health and diversity. In the past buffalo provided that disturbance, travelling through in herds and trampling growth into the soil. Now we need to use livestock to mimic this… and the BioBlitz aimed to show how effective that can be. We began with an early morning bird survey and then transitioned into five 90-minute surveys throughout the day. DNR staff, US Fish and Wildlife staff, MN Master Naturalists and local prairie enthusiasts joined to lead surveys that catalogued MN birds, upland and wetland prairie plants, MN dragonflies, prairie insects, MN amphibians and reptiles, wetland macro-invertebrates, and bats.
Why do we do the BioBlitz? It’s an amazing opportunity for community members to pair up with local experts to learn about and identify native species, but it’s also a chance to share excitement, knowledge, and to strengthen our ties to each other and the prairie around us. This event was open to the public and was made possible with financial support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Lac qui Parle Lake Watershed Project Association. It was sponsored by Land Stewardship Project, The Chippewa River Watershed Project, and CURE. It would not have been possible without all of the support we received from the area farmers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Minnesota DNR, Minnesota Dragonfly Society and many other volunteers that shared not only their knowledge but also their passion for the tallgrass Prairie. We want to thank everyone who came out and joined us.