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Restoring the Resource

I coordinate a project in western Minnesota that is based on the idea that producing positive environmental impacts in a watershed can happen without having to remake the entire region’s landscape. Scientific studies and on-the-farm experience suggest that just a 10 percent increase in diverse crop rotations, grasses and other perennial plant systems can be enough to meaningfully improve the safety of the water, reduce flood potential, restore wildlife habitat and stimulate a thriving local and regional foods economy. This is especially true if we can target fields that are particularly sensitive to problems like erosion.

BioBlitz: Community Conservation in Action

With knowledge comes power—as well as responsibility. On an overcast Saturday in July 2014 several dozen people were gaining more of the former with each step they took through rolling grassland in west-central Minnesota. And as they referred to field guides and smart phone nature apps while tallying a growing list of plant and animal…  Read More

Community Conservation

It’s that age-old struggle: accepting a little short-term disturbance in the name of long-term stability. Dave Trauba regularly faces the challenge of explaining that tradeoff to hunters who visit the Lac Qui Parle Wildlife Refuge in western Minnesota only to find their favorite spot for shooting pheasants has recently been grazed by cattle from a…  Read More

Tillage Radish: Tapping into the 2-Way Street of Innovation

When I started working with the Land Stewardship Project on the Chippewa 10% Project, the work felt far away. Based out of Minneapolis, I was working on the Cropping Systems Calculator to help farmers in the Chippewa River watershed region in west-central Minnesota determine what financial differences they would see by switching a marginal corn/soybean…  Read More

To Blitz or Not to Blitz

As spring gathers momentum, so does planning for the 2015 Simon Lake BioBlitz, which is being held July 10-11 at Sheepberry Fen in west-central Minnesota. And along with the planning come the questions: What is it? Why have it? Why should I come? The answers to those questions crash down in a tidal wave of…  Read More

Gene Goven & MN Ranchers: Planning for Change

In western Minnesota we live in what used to be a grassland habitat, where warm season perennials were king and the whole system depended on herds of buffalo and the occasional wildfire to break down the abundance of plant material. These days, it’s becoming clear leaving our remaining prairies untouched does not create a healthy…  Read More

A Graphic View of Diversity’s Power

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a good infographic can be the equivalent of thousands of pounds of soil. That thought occurred to me recently while viewing the cool illustration below. Produced by scientists who are studying the effects of adding some targeted diversity to row-cropped fields in central Iowa, it tells…  Read More

Seeley: We Need Strategies to ‘Weather’ the Storm

Over 80 people came out to the Starbuck Community Center in western Minnesota on a balmy March evening to hear presentations from University of Minnesota meteorologist and climatologist Mark Seeley as well as staff and farmer-members of Land Stewardship Project’s Community Based Food Systems and Farm Beginnings programs. The focus of the event was climate…  Read More

One Woman’s Land Story

Judy Rose of Miltona, Minn., owns two quarter sections in North Dakota’s Nelson County— 320 acres of prairie pothole habitat in which she has maintained several areas of wetland. She is a participant in Land Stewardship Project’s Women Caring for the Land group of non-operating women landowners in the Pope County region of western Minnesota.…  Read More

Pollinators in Peril

As last week’s Congressional Research Service report on bee health makes clear, the crisis plaguing pollinators is not a single, big bad bogey man. It’s likely a combination of factors such as habitat loss, pesticide poisoning, introduced diseases and the stress of making domesticated honey bees the insect equivalent of migrant workers. That’s the bad…  Read More