The early days of Prairie Plains Resource Institute were spent harvesting seeds from local wild populations, planting small plots along Lincoln Creek in Aurora, Nebraska, and understanding the characteristics of local native prairies. These activities, carried out in the 1980s, grew in the 1990s to include the development of large (100+ acres/year) high diversity wetland and prairie planting efforts along the central Platte River in Nebraska where lowland prairies are a valued habitat component for huge concentrations of sandhill cranes and waterfowl. This work was done in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, USEPA Region 7 and the Platte River Whooping Crane Trust.
Considered pioneers in the field of Nebraska prairie restoration, Prairie Plains restoration methods have influenced individuals, organizations and government agencies. Local ecotype prairie and wetland restoration has obvious benefits for wildlife conservation, livestock forage production and soil conservation, as well as often overlooked benefits for water filtration and percolation into the ground. Prairies in the Platte River Watershed are extremely valuable resources because of their relevance to both ground and surface water quantity and quality.
Prairie Restoration is the process of recreating a prairie where one once existed but is now gone. Taking the word restore literally, it would result in completely rebuilding the prairie plant and animal community with all the species that a particular site used to have. Definintions can vary, but Prairie Plains defines prairie restoration broadly, including everything from planting a new prairie where the former prairie had been broken and farmed, to improving a degraded prairie, that is, one that was never plowed but lost many plant species due to prior land management practices.
Funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Prairie Plains and Nebraska Game and Parks Comission teamed up in 2003 to create the benchmark restoration how-to-manual A Guide to Prairie and Wetland Restoration in Eastern Nebraska. Gerry Steinauer, Heritage Botanist for Nebraska Game and Parks, wrote the manual with assistance from Prairie Plains staff and Chris Helzer of The Nature Conservancy's Platte/Rainwater Basin Project Office. Technical review was also contributed by a number of other prairie restorationists in Nebraska and Iowa.
The guide can be obtained for a $3.00 shipping and handling fee. Please call Prairie Plains at 402-694-5535 or email us at email@example.com to request your copy. Or download our Restoration Manual in PDF form:
Restoration Manual - part 1
Restoration Manual - part 2
See photos of the restoration process and of current project sites.
In October 2009 Bill Whitney of Prairie Plains and Kelly Kindscher from the University of Kansas - Kansas Biological Survey presented at the Land Trust Alliance Rally in Portland, Oregon. The title of their presentation was "Stewardship and Ecological Restoration," and you can download a copy of their handout here!
Check out this list of public access restoration sites and take a restoration road trip. The column to the far right of the spreadsheet provides links to Mapquest maps of the properties. Choose "Street Map" view or "Aerial Image" in the upper right corner of the map.
In 1997 Prairie Plains Executive Director Bill Whitney wrote two articles detailing the early history of prairie restoration on the Platte River. The articles were published by the University of Wisconsin Press in Volume 15, No. 1 & 2 of Ecological Restoration. With permission from University of Wisconsin Press, we are pleased to offer downloads of A Platte River Country Restoration, Part 1. Getting Started and Part 2. At Work on the Plains here.
National Science Foundation research finds mixed prairie grasses to be an efficient source of biofuel. Read the NSF Press Release.
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Aurora, NE 68818