The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, North Dakota & South Dakota is protecting vital grassland habitat for people and nature. Donate now!
Grasslands are much more essential to our planet's sustainability than most realize. Our grasslands are a significant part of our national history – our heritage. Protecting what remains is more than an obligation, it’s an imperative.
More than 40 percent of North America’s bird species depend on grasslands. A third of the world’s most significant areas of plant diversity – places containing over a thousand species – are grasslands. Grasslands are home to almost 800 million people and provide food, medicine and economic opportunities to countless millions more. But temperate grasslands, the predominant variety of the once revered Great Plains, are the most endangered and least protected major habitat type on earth.
To preserve our grasslands, two approaches are needed. First, in areas where grasslands are greatly fragmented, the remnants need to be protected, then reconnected and buffered to create functioning landscapes. Second, where substantial grasslands still remain, such as the Prairie Coteau and Conata Basin in South Dakota, the Missouri Coteau and Sheyenne Delta in North Dakota, and the Aspen Parklands in Minnesota, large, high-quality prairie needs to be protected while also engaging private landowners to ensure healthy management of working grasslands.
For the past 30 years, The Nature Conservancy has been a leader in grassland protection in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Our incredible effort at Glacial Ridge is a testament to the Conservancy’s ability to protect grasslands at an impactful scale (35,000 acres) and utilize our global network to successfully implement the biggest prairie and wetland restoration project in U.S. history. And in South Dakota’s Conata Basin, one of North America’s most intact remaining grasslands, by protecting the grassland we are also protecting one of our continent’s rarest mammals, the black-footed ferret.