The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will work with federal agencies and conservation groups on a plan to preserve and improve the remnants of the state's prairies.
The plan will connect core prairie remnants with corridors that have similar habitats to allow animals to migrate, and calls for investing $3.6 billion over the next 25 years to buy land and easements to connect the fragmented prairies.
"Things like western meadowlarks, grasshopper sparrows, American badgers — all of these are animals that need expanses of native prairie and grasslands to be able to survive and continue to exist," said Steve Chaplin of The Nature Conservancy.Chaplin said.
About one-third of Minnesota was prairieland before white settlers came. Only 1 percent of that prairie remains.
Chaplin said Minnesota needs policies that encourage farmers to use marginal land for grazing and haying, rather than converting acreage to row crops. Ten agencies and organizations agreed Tuesday to work toward the effort.