Help available for landowners who want to improve their prairie grasslands

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Improving the quality of water in the Chippewa River Watershed starts with improving the ability of the land to prevent erosion, which reduces the amount of sediments entering rivers as well as pollutants.
But knowing what to do as well as where to turn for the help that will allow a landowner to improve a piece of grassland or prairie isn’t always easy.
That is where Mae Petrehn can help. A landowner outreach consultant with the Land Stewardship Project, she facilitates projects by helping a landowner identify what he wants to do with a piece of land and then putting him in touch with the people and programs that can help him achieve his goals.
Petrehn works with the Chippewa 10 Percent Project, which is a bigger scale program within the Land Stewardship Project. It is focused on improving water quality in the Chippewa River Watershed by getting more perennials on the landscape.
 “My role in that is to work with landowners who have grasslands or pastures as part of a perennial system,” Petrehn said. She helps the landowners explore options from technical assistance or just getting the right person to talk to to get advice on what they want to achieve with the land. She will put them in touch with the people who can help develop a conservation program or easement.
There is still a fair amount of native prairie habitat in the area with those lands eligible for funding through conservation programs for some of the efforts to manage the land or to create an easement, Petrehn said.
It is part of a broader statewide initiative called the Minnesota Prairie Plan. The Department of Natural Resources facilitates the program, but it is definitely collaboration between Fish & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever – and any organization that has an interest in native prairie habitat, Petrehn said.

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