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Home arrow The Daily Dirt arrow Wednesday What's New: Restoring the Prairie
Wednesday What's New: Restoring the Prairie Print E-mail
Written by Heleigh Bostwick    Wednesday, 20 July 2016
Restored prairie with wildflowers

Stretching from Canada down into Mexico and from Indiana across to the Rockies, the prairie was once the largest ecosystem in North America. Today, that same ecosystem covers barely a fraction of the land it once did and one couple in suburban Chicago has decided to do something about it.

Hoping to avoid the fate of so much of the farmland in this country, the couple, Don and Espie Nelson, took the plunge and began planting native prairie species on a 37-acre piece of land that had previously been farmed by Mrs. Nelson’s brothers. Equipped with their knowledge of prairie restoration gained from their volunteer work with the Lockport Prairie at Morton Arboretum, they ultimately decided to hire professionals to seed and plant the land. At the same time, they cleared out as many invasive plants as possible.

Unfortunately, the first year turned out to be a bust due to extreme drought conditions. The second year however, was just the opposite. There was plenty of rain and seeds that had lain dormant in the earth for many years began to sprout along with the prairie plants that had managed to sprout the previous year.

Although it was an expensive venture, not only in terms of monetary outlay, but personal labor as well, the Nelsons feel it was worthwhile. Now in its third growing season, there are an estimated 65 prairie plants growing on the land.