Growing out grassland to save prairie wildlife

MASON CITY, Iowa - Prairie land across our area is on the decline, and because of this, there are growing concerns about the habitats of grassland birds.

When land isn’t available for wildlife, like pheasants or songbirds, they have to search for homes elsewhere.

However, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have done some of the searching for them

Roadside ditches are areas most are used to seeing and mowing, but while most people view as just another part of their lawn, DNR conservationists see the unused space as an opportunity.

DNR officials are asking landowners to voluntarily delay mowing their roadside ditches until Aug. 1st.

The idea is to provide a miniature prairie-like space for birds and bugs to use as a habitat during the summer months.

Minnesota DNR Prairie Grassland Coordinator, Camelita Nelson says, this lack of mowing will not only help restore some of these areas, but provide a safe place for birds to nest.

“Most birds are completed with nesting by Aug. 1st,” she explains, “Now, beekeepers will say, ‘don’t mow even on Aug. 1st because we still need the wildflowers, but, the Aug. 1st day is when most birds are done nesting.”

The lack of prairie lands isn’t just an issue DNR officials are seeing in Minnesota, Iowa has seen a major decline of grassland over the years as well.

Iowa DNR officials in our area say there are similar mowing requests in place across the Hawkeye state.

In fact, a law was passed and made effective back in 2010 for all land and homeowners to hold off on mowing along roadsides July 15th.

We are told that the dates differ from Iowa to Minnesota because of the nesting seasons of grassland birds.

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