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  • Northern Praries Land Trust - Land and Resource Preservation
    that has paid off was the simplest we gave these individuals flexibility to develop methods for working with landowners The biologists were able to read the community and determine just how to go about their work The absolute key was gaining the trust of landowners The first position was established in Beatrice where the surrounding ranches include some of the last extensive examples of native tallgrasses an essential habitat for a long list of native species The challenge was enormous Less than two percent of the tallgrass rairie remains in Nebraska and South Dakota In its historic prime tallgrasses supported some 1 500 species of plants insects and animals and stored vast amounts of carbon Kent Pfeiffer a veteran of plant and wildlife conservation took on this daunting assignment The tallgrass prairies in his region were threatened by invasive cedar trees which pushed out the grasses and made the land less valuable for cattle grazing However by gaining the trust of landowners one at a time Kent was able to demonstrate that if landowners eradicate the invasive plants the prairie can be restored to health and support an economically productive grazing enterprise Economics and the environment go together Healthy prairie grasses support grazing while simultaneously restoring habitat for native species In Kent s words landowners come to realize that there is more to this land than what you can take off it Work with nature Kent s work is undramatic requiring many small projects visits and trust generating involvement In recent years landowners have been plowing prairie grasses in order to grow corn an environmental catastrophe Kent is able to report that the landowners with whom he works have been far less likely to plow their native grasses simply because with healthy grasses they can make a good living grazing cattle Living in the community bringing experience and knowledge to the task and working with landowners one at a time Kent is responsible for protecting many thousands of acres of prairie restoring prairie on a landscape scale Rebekah Bekah Jessen operates out of a garage in Grove Nebraska but lives in nearby Bloomfield her home town She brings a Masters degree in biology to her work and an enthusiasm which is ideal She was originally assigned to the Verdigre Bazile Creek BUL but now spreads out to adjacent BULs along the Missouri River Lower Niobrara Keya Paha River Elkhorn River and Willow Creek She too relies on her ability to gain the trust of landowners one project at a time In fact Bekah points out that it is often better to wait for a landowner to contact her when they see what has been achieved on a neighbor s land they are inclined to pick up the phone and request advice Through this process Bekah has carried out more than 105 formal landowner agreements encouraged the use of prescribed fire on more than 9 000 acres of prairie and removal of invasive trees on more than 8 000 acres And this is just one part of her work She also monitors a number of conservation easements held by Northern Prairies and is an ever ready partner to assist Nebraska Game Parks staff with projects on public lands including long term monitoring of at risk species such as the Prairie Chicken Small White Lady Slipper Orchid and Hawk Moth Of equal importance is Bekah s enthusiastic role working with children on educational and outdoor activities Community based voluntary land conservation Protecting native prairie on a landscape scale Kelly Corman based in Bassett works in north central Nebraska particularly along the Middle Niobrara and the Keya Paha River His work is in one of the most diverse landscapes encountered by Northern Prairies biologists He too is faced with the loss of tallgrass prairie to invasive red cedar trees as well as conversion to corn and works in the community one landowner at a time Kelly brings to his tasks a strong background in Colorado ranch land The Keya Paha River which flows into Nebraska from South Dakota provides Kelly with an opportunity to work in partnership with conservationists in South Dakota In recent years Northern Prairies has expanded its conservation field work to encompass the oak woodlands along the eastern border of the state James Baker is assigned to Ponca State Park in the Ponca Hills BUL of northeastern Nebraska along the Missouri River Krista Lang and Jordan Marquis have similar duties but in and around Indian Cave State Park on the southern border Just like the tallgrass prairie the oak woodlands are under direct threat from a variety of invasive weeds especially Garlic Mustard which crept into the state s woodlands in the last 5 years Garlic mustard absolutely unhinges the entire ecosystem of the woodlands killing the undergrowth and defeating the natural ability of oak woodlands to reproduce It is demanding work According to Baker consistency is the key to controlling invasive species Working out from their bases on state parks these woodland ecologists are engaging private owners of oak forest getting out knowledge of garlic mustard and encouraging private conservation projects Their work in the oak woodlands accepts the challenge of ecological restoration and conservation on a landscape scale In 2013 alone our biologists brought about active conservation work on just under 39 000 acres of native ground They are re inventing conservation one property at a time Supporting this innovative fieldwork presents daunting practical challenges for Northern Prairies which remains at its core an all volunteer organization Innovation implies risk Northern Prairies is taking risks because the opportunity for conservation on a landscape scale is too important We urge our friends to join us in supporting innovation President s Message The Challenge to Conservation These are challenging times for conservationists as natural lands and waters are lost in ever greater amounts The hard statistics are available Between 2007 and 2012 3 150 000 acres of natural habitat were lost in Nebraska and more than 2 172 000 in South Dakota The eastern Dakotas are losing wetlands at a rate of 15 000 acres a year Most of these losses are for purposes of increasing production of field crops such as corn and soybeans Inevitably the decline in populations of native birds accelerates on a parallel with loss of habitat Conservation organizations such as Northern Prairies Land Trust grew up in reliance on the strong land ethic of private landowners At Northern Prairies we continue to believe that the land ethic is alive but the startling changes in the landscape force us to consider new strategies As we proceed to develop fresh ideas we also realize a need to enlist new volunteers who will bring new ideas to our effort Conservationists who read this are invited to consider volunteering Never before has there been a greater need for the innovation experience and creativity that only committed volunteers can provide Despite the jarring statistics of habitat loss Northern Prairies continues to field four biologists in Nebraska who work with private landowners to implement conservation practices These energetic community based biologists are managing to protect habitat on a landscape scale offering a counterweight to the record of land loss We also have active easement programs along the Missouri River and its tributaries I invite you to contact our field biologists get to know them and view their achievements As we develop fresh strategies we will publicize them through this internet site and solicit your response and suggestions John Davidson PRESERVING TALLGRASS PRAIRIE BY SPONSORING PROJECTS UNDER THE NORTH AMERICAN WETLANDS CONSERVATION ACT NAWCA Northern Prairies Land Trust NPLT partners with numerous federal state and private conservation organizations to obtain North American Wetland Conservation Act grants to preserve native grasslands in South Dakota and borderlands In this process NPLT and its partners have worked with 35 landowners protecting over 10 600 acres and spent a total of 4 546 800 These grants accelerate the perpetual protection of wetland and grassland habitats by acquiring conservation easements on private rangeland Conservation easements have proven to be the most successful and economical way to protect grassland and wetland habitat in what we describe as the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture PPJV It costs twice as much to protect one acre of grassland using the Conservation Reserve Program CRP for ten years compared to protecting one acre of grassland using perpetual grassland easements Easements are acquired in some of the highest density wetland and waterfowl breeding areas in the PPJV This unique portion of the PPJV consists of high wetland densities and diverse bird communities Despite ongoing conservation measures the defining landscape of the project area continues its erosion from an extensive and biologically rich native tallgrass prairie wetland system utilized for livestock ranching to a sterile landscape dominated by tillage agriculture These perpetual easements are purchased from willing sellers dedicated ranchers and conservationists wanting to protect their grasslands and wetlands from destruction The partners are committed to working together to conserve this unique landscape by fostering a sustainable grassland economy based on family livestock ranching These conservation easements perpetually protect the grazing lands utilized by ranchers and the vital wetland and grassland landscapes required by all prairie bird communities The two primary facets of the project will consist of grassland easements funded by NAWCA and matching partners and wetland easements funded by Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp proceeds and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Over 90 of all grassland s diversity and biomass is located below ground level Once grassland is converted to cropland the associated wetlands are subjected to high degrees of drainage and sedimentation Water and wind erosion causes increased sediment loads in wetlands located adjacent to cropland agriculture Pesticides and herbicides flow into wetlands from cultivated hillsides and degrade the aquatic plant and invertebrate communities thus impacting the entire wetland ecosystem An integral part of this effort by Northern Prairies is the establishment of a position for an on the ground working biologist in the area In addition to assisting with the NAWCA projects this biologist works with private landowners throughout the tallgrass areas of eastern South Dakota to implement conservation practices including prescribed fire on private working lands The organization has been fortunate to have in that position Mr Jim Madsen a well known conservation biologist who among other achievements was recently the national President of the Izaak Walton League of America BIG SIOUX RIVER CONSERVATION PROJECT Prairie rivers and their headwaters are the heart and sinew of the grassland ecosystem but these waters are on hard times suffering severe altereation leading to degraded water quality loss of habitat for native species elimination of riparian vegetation and loss of the natural resilience required to absorb the impacts of flooding drought and climate change Northern Prairies has established a dynamic demonstration project for the protection of these streams The central methodology is the engagement of private landowners in creating vegetated buffer strips along the riparian areas of rivers streams and headwaters The project focuses on the Big Sioux River which drains about 7 280 square miles in South Dakota Minnesota and Iowa ultimately entering the Missouri and then the Mississippi Forming partnerships along the River Northern Prairies devised a diverse program One element is the acquisition of conservation easements along the River To date 22 such easements are recorded A second element is the employment of an on the ground working biologist who recruits river landowners to voluntary conservation practices consistent with the goal of a vegetated buffer The significance of this project is that it works It is an efficient means of protecting rivers in the context of private land ownership and crop production NATURAL LEGACY PROTECTION IN THE TALLGRASS PRAIRIE ECOREGION OF NEBRASKA Northern Prairies has stationed two full time field biologists in southeast Nebraska whose assignment is to engage private landowners and all other stakeholders in protecting four southeast Nebraska Biologically Unique Landscapes BULs the Sandstone Prairies Southeast Prairies Rulo Bluffs and Indian Caves These biologists live in the community where they build relationships through education and public outreach events while assisting private landowners who desire to implement voluntary land and water conservation projects on their land The emphasis is always on protecting the remaining tallgrass prairies and associated wetlands Applying adaptive management techniques and seizing conservation opportunities as they arise this mature program has resulted in protection of natural ecosystems on a landscape scale This work recognizes that there are still large scale functioning ecosystems that are worth protecting These ecosystems include the people who make their living from the land and their well being is an integral part of protecting land and water and wildlife habitat Our working biologists have achieved a cultural change in regards to the perceived value of native prairies and the use of fire as a management tool These are now cultural norms in some areas drastically improving the long term outlook for rare lands and the people who depend on them They have used an ecological approach in developing methods In particular they focus on enhancing diverse native plant communities using burn driven grazing techniques and high diversity local ecotype prairie restorations NATURAL LEGACY PROTECTION WITHIN THE VERDIGRE BAZILE CREEK WATERSHED IN NORTHEAST NEBRASKA The Verdigre Bazile Creek Watershed is a critical at risk ecosystem It encompasses one of the largest areas of remaining tallgrass prairie in the region and is an important tributary to the Missouri River main stem emptying into the Missouri National Recreational River a segment of the National Park System Northern Prairies has stationed a full time working biologist in the area This person works with private landowners to undertake conservation projects on private lands much after the model of the tallgrass project in the southeast The goal is conservation on private lands in a manner that help assure the long term economic prospects of the landowners NATURAL LEGACY PROTECTION IN THE SANDHILLS MIXED GRASS AND TALLGRASS ECOREGIONS THE MIDDLE NIOBRARA INITIATIVE Following the model established in the southeast and in Verdigre Bazile Creek Northern Prairies has established a full time working biologist for the Middle Niobrara River Based in Bassett the focus is on protecting tallgrass prairie on working lands while enhancing the condition of the Niobrara River The River is a major tributary of the Missouri and also an important regional recreation resource It is surrounded by a valuable working lands economy based in grazing As a result the opportunities for private lands conservation are large As in the southeast the presence and initiative of this biologist has led to a broad acceptance of land management tools such as prescribed fire and natural ecosystems are being preserved on a landscape scale SERVING AS SOUTH DAKOTA S ONLY GENERAL LAND TRUST When Northern Prairies organized in 1999 there were no general land trusts in either South Dakota or Nebraska Although there is now a second small land trust in Nebraska Northern Prairies remains the only general land trust in South Dakota This requires that we respond to inquiries from interested landowners across the State providing the expertise needed to guide them to conservation solutions In support of this responsibility Northern Prairies was one of the first land trusts in the nation to be fully accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission In addition to the many conservation easements held as part of the Big Sioux River Project Northern Prairies has accepted and holds important easements elsewhere On the Missouri National Recreational River for example it holds easements which protect some of the remaining intact bottomlands on this heavily developed River Medicine Creek Wildlife Refuge This badger was photographed at Medicine Creek Wildlife Refuge a property protected by a conservation easement held by Northern Prairies Land Trust For more photos from Medicine Creek look at www photosbygerhard com Conservation Easements maintain a legacy Fairbury NE Cattle will be grazing on the prairie hills southwest of Fairbury Nebraska for generations to come thanks to landowners interested in preserving the land for their family In July of this year Jim and Ann McCord granted a 1043 Acre perpetual conservation easement to Northern Prairies Land Trust that would prohibit cropping and development yet maintain the property as a working cattle ranch While the McCord property retains its value as a cattle pasture under the easement it is also a precious natural resource in its own right Native pastures in this area represent some of the most expansive examples of tallgrass prairie remaining in North America Consequently the prairies oak woodlands and wetlands that comprise the grazing lands of Jefferson and Thayer Counties have been designated as a high priority for conservation work under the Nebraska Natural Legacy Plan These pastures and the many species of plants and wildlife that depend of them owe their survival to the thoughtful stewardship of families like the McCords By granting the easement to Northern Prairies Land Trust the McCords have assured the continuation of a ranching legacy while also protecting water resources native prairie and wildlife habitat Funding has been provided in part by a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for work on private lands in southeast Nebraska and the US Fish and Wildlife Service s Landowner Incentive Program These efforts assist private landowners with affecting landscape level change in southeast Nebraska for the benefit of a broad spectrum of wildlife species and their habitats Landowners and private contractors continue to make progress on Eastern red cedar tree removal projects in 2012 Thirteen areas totaling 1 385 acres will be cleared to improve habitat for a number of at risk wildlife species including Greater Prairie Chicken Regal Fritillary butterflies Northern Bobwhite Quail Loggerhead Shrike and Bell s Vireo along with a variety of common species These projects are in various stages of planning and completion The Coordinating Wildlife Biologist continues to seek out additional landowners interested in improving their property to benefit wildlife species and improve grasslands and woodland habitats An on going project involving Eastern red cedar tree removal on a mixed grass prairie

    Original URL path: http://www.northernprairies.org/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Northern Prairies Land Trust Staff and Directors
    1983 where Pat worked with the Minnehaha County State s Attorney s Office In 1985 they moved their family to Albuquerque New Mexico where Pat worked for the Bernalillo County District Attorney Albuquerque NM for one year and the State of New Mexico Environmental Improvement Division Santa Fe NM as an Assistant Attorney General for two years In 1988 they moved back to Sioux Falls where Pat worked for the state s attorney s office and the Sioux Falls City Attorney s Office While at the City Attorney s Office he was responsible for code enforcement and environmental regulations as well as city compliance with federal and state mandates In 1991 Pat entered private practice with a specialty in environmental law and later expanded to include mediation services Growing up in the Midwest makes it easy to love the outdoors explains Anderson who is originally from Minnesota and has lived the last eighteen years in Sioux Falls He enjoys all sorts of outdoor activities especially tramping through prairies and swamps in pursuit of wily roosters and is passionate about protecting our natural resources I strongly believe that the greatest gift we can give our children is protection of the natural state of the wonderful world in which we live JAMES E ROGERS born June 24 1977 in Omaha Nebraska Spent his childhood fishing camping and earning his Eagle Scout badge in Nebraska Missouri Idaho and Pennsylvania Graduated the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1999 with a degree in Forestry Fisheries and Wildlife Graduated the Vermont Law School cum laude with a Masters in Environmental Law in 2002 Graduated the University of South Dakota School of Law in 2002 Was the Editor in Chief of the Great Plains Natural Resources Journal in which he also had two articles published Spent a year in Des Moines IA clerking for the Fifth Judicial District Then spent 4 years in Sioux Falls SD as the General Counsel for the Title Resource Network First Dakota Title focusing primarily on title insurance underwriting decisions In October of 2007 he moved back to Omaha NE and after a brief stint working as a Claims Attorney for LandAmerica where he oversaw title insurance policy coverage determinations and case handling he has returned to his position of General Counsel with the Title Resource Network Since his graduation from USD he has also been an adjunct professor in the School of Legal Studies with Kaplan University teaching in subjects such as contracts torts family law medical records and legal research and writing He is also involved with the Environmental Policy Management program offered by Kaplan including teaching various courses within the program James is also a graduate of the School of Flyfishing and The Leader s Institute He is a member of Trout Unlimited and is an avid handyman James along with his wife Becky son Graydon and daughter Ellie enjoy spending a great deal of time with their extended family in Omaha GREGG GREENFIELD is Northern Prairies newest

    Original URL path: http://www.northernprairies.org/staff.htm (2016-02-10)
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  • Northern Prairies Land Trust Projects and News
    Sioux Falls Northern Prairies sponsored a presentation recently on The Missouri River Flood of 2011 Causes Impacts and Post Flood Policy Decisions The presentation was given by Professor Tim Cowman of USD who has extensively studied many aspects of the Missouri River and also spearheaded channel restoration on one of Northern Prairies easements Professor Emeritus John H Davidson of the University of South Dakota Law School and President of Northern Prairies participated in the presentation on preservation and conservation easements entitled The Land and Its People Liz Almlie of the South Dakota Historic Preservation Office also provided the state perspective on preservation and the presentation was sponsored by the Clay County Historical Preservation Commission John Davidson s work was essential to completing the conservation easement on Jerry and Norma Wilson s historic property near Vermillion South Dakota Landowner Incentive Program Summary In July of 2004 Northern Prairies Land Trust opened its first South Dakota field office in Watertown The financial support came through the Landowner Incentive Program LIP a US Fish and Wildlife Service program The grant was sponsored by the SD Department of Game Fish and Parks which also provided matching funds From the start creating partnerships and identifying Northern Prairies as a valuable conservation advocate were integral keys to the success of the program Over the next 7 5 years we worked closely with many State and Federal agencies and a host of conservation organizations developing and implementing individual projects with landowners and also but coordinating ideas and concepts with partners to bring innovative and wide scale conservation programs to the tallgrass prairie Northern Prairies contacted over 200 landowners and helped implement 250 individual projects Included in the vast array of projects were shallow wildlife dams that doubled as stock watering ponds and wildlife habitat rotational grazing systems that included water sources and paddock fencing restoration of previously drained wetlands re establishment of native grasses and forbs providing prescribed burns as a grazing management tool assisting landowners with CRP enrollments and providing mechanisms for landowners to protect sensitive and unique landscapes through the use of long term and perpetual conservation easements Nebraska Nebraska Environmental Trust Projects Eastern Cedars Thinning on Prairies A major problem on the native prairie lands of Nebraska is the invasive Eastern Cedar This tree was introduced because it is hardy and provides good cover in shelter belts Unfortunately it likes to spread out through the open prairie crowding out native grasses and eliminating livestock forage As shown in the two pictures below cedar trees can be successfully removed allowing restoration of the native prairie plants Top picture is before bottom is after Restoring Oak Woodlands A similar problem is occurring in the hills and draws of Nebraska where native Burr Oak trees are being crowded out by non native invasive plants Once again the combination of human power and machines removes the invasive plants and allows the native species to flourish Top picture is before bottom is after Using Conservation Easements to Preserve Native

    Original URL path: http://www.northernprairies.org/news.htm (2016-02-10)
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  • NPLT Conservation Tools
    the donor the comfort of knowing the property will remain as they describe in the conservation easement How Long Does It Take to Put a Conservation Easement on My Property It typically takes from three to nine months to complete the paperwork necessary for a conservation easement What Happens after the Easement is in Place Once a conservation easement is signed Northern Prairies and the landowner begin a working relationship to assure that the conservation easement is maintained Northern Prairies is not in the day to day land management business Landowners continue to make all of their property management decisions while the easement sets out the allowable uses of the property How Often Do You Monitor Conservation Easement Annual monitoring visits are conducted by Northern Prairies These visits are set up by appointment with the landowner for a mutually agreed upon time Can I Sell My Property If I Put a Conservation Easement on It Yes The landowners retain full ownership of the property and can transfer it as they wish The conservation easement remains attached to property with the same conditions as placed on it by the landowner who initiated the easement Qualifying for a Tax Deduction To qualify for a tax deduction your conservation easement donation must be considered a charitable gift by the Internal Revenue Service A qualified charitable contribution can be made only to an IRS qualified tax exempt organization such as Northern Prairies The value of the conservation easement is determined by a qualified appraisal For example if the appraisal determines that the land without restrictions has a fair market value of 2 million and that the fair market value of the land with restrictions is 1 300 000 then the value of the conservation easement is 700 000 This is also the value of the potential tax deduction Reminder Each landowner s situation is unique and the availability and extent to which the tax deduction may be utilized needs to be determined individually by the landowner and their financial and or legal adviser Individual landowner taxpayer May claim up to 50 of adjusted gross income AGI per year as a qualified charitable contribution income tax deduction and may carry forward any remaining value of the qualified charitable contribution for up to 15 years Qualified farmers or ranchers May deduct the value up to 100 of their AGI with the same 15 year carryforward period for donations of conservation easements that satisfy the following requirements A qualified farmer or rancher is a taxpayer who earns more the 50 of his or her income from the business of farming as set forth in the IRS Code in the taxable year in which the conservation contribution is made The conservation easement must cover property that is used or is available for use for agricultural or livestock production The conservation easement must contain a restriction that the property will remain available for agricultural or livestock production Income Tax Deductions for Farming and Ranching Corporations Qualified farming or ranching

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  • Northern Prairies Land Trust - Conservation Easement Endowments Stewardship in Perpetuity
    NPLT must have the financial capability to monitor defend and enforce the terms of each easement in its portfolio Stewardship endowments for easement protection are pooled in a restricted fund The Stewardship Fund and are used exclusively for easement monitoring and enforcement We cannot predict the future but we can prepare for it These endowment funds are vital to the defense of protected lands Policies and Administration of The Stewardship Fund Each conservation easement has an underlying stewardship endowment plan Endowment monies are placed in a restricted fund called The Stewardship Fund which has a separate accounting of assets The Stewardship Fund shall be used exclusively for easement protection Qualified expenditures are restricted to monitoring enforcement and activities directly related thereto Interest income earned by The Stewardship Fund may be used as needed for general NPLT operations The Northern Prairies Land Trust Board of Directors reviews The Stewardship Fund annually and calls for periodic audits at its discretion The amount of the donation to the Stewardship Fund will be determined by the Board of Directors on a case by case basis after receiving a recommendation from the Executive Director It is recognized that this amount will vary based upon a

    Original URL path: http://www.northernprairies.org/steward.htm (2016-02-10)
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  • Northern Prairies Land Trust Conservation Links
    protecting the land ans waters they need to survive American Farmland Trust AFT works to stop the loss of productive farmland and to promote sustainable farming practices that lead to a healthy environment United State Fish and Wildlife Service The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in South Dakota uses a no rules philosophy to develop partnerships and programs that simultaneously promote wildlife conservation and sustainable agriculture Tony Dean s Acres Memorial Fund Funds are now being raised to purchase land in South Dakota and to provide for outdoor education in partnership with conservation organizations State and Federal agencies Sioux Falls Park and Recreation Department Our mission is to provide a system of open space recreational opportunities and aesthetic beauty for Sioux Falls South Dakota Department of Environmental and Natural Resources South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Department Natural Resources Conservation Services Programs Environmental Defense Center for Conservation Initiatives Izaak Walton League Pheasants Forever Ducks Unlimited East Dakota Water Development District South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts US Environmental Protection Agency South Dakota Lakes and Streams Association Nebraska Game and Parks Commission The mission of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is stewardship of the state s fish wildlife park

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  • NPLT Landowners
    16 native grasses and wildflowers They have also utilized prescribed burning to integrate the natural cycle The difference between the burned and unburned acreages is startling with the burned area being lush and thick with growth The natural prairie must have fired to keep healthy Jerry says The Wilsons are continuing to expand the native prairie in the appropriate areas on their 144 acres The benefits of reclaiming overused land are plentiful Besides rejuvenating the soil and re establishing habitats it prevents erosion keeping the soil from washing into waterways which in turn improves water quality This is important since two streams run through the property In addition to the prairie and riparian area the property includes woodlands which in the Wilsons refer to as the Big Woods where they love to take moonlight strolls Taking care of the land is part of the Wilsons philosophy and a labor of love By placing their property under a conservation casement donated to Northern Prairies Land Trust the Wilsons have permanently protected a wonderful and diverse area of native and restored habitat rich with plant and animal life The easement is appropriately named Prairie Bluffs Conservation Easement Northern Prairies would like to extend a special thanks to Elizabeth Hill who took the photos on this page and assembled a wonderful conservation baseline documenting the numerous conservation values of the Prairie Bluffs Conservation Easement Gerhard Assenmacher s story is one of hard work and excellence As a young man he came to the United States and founded a successful auto repair business in New York State From that base he gradually began to design and manufacture a line of specialty tools leading to the successful firm of Assenmacher Specialty Tools Inc based in Boulder Colorado www asttool com After gradually relinquishing his business

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  • About NPLT
    Friends of Conservation It is a busy and productive time at Northern Prairies The big news is that Norma and Jerry Wilson have donated a perpetual conservation easement on their 144 acre historic farm in Clay County South Dakota To be known as the Prairie Bluffs Conservation Easement the easement protects from development a rich combination of mixed native woodland native and restored prairie natural springs and a magnificent vista across the Missouri River valley and protects the Severson Cabin The Prairie Bluffs easement assures open space in a developing area while also protecting water sources native grasses wildlife habitat and a lasting example of prairie settlement In addition to donating the perpetual easement itself the Wilson s have made a generous endowed donation to Northern Prairies Stewardship Fund assuring the means by which we will monitor and enforce the easement in the future Most of all the Wilson s generous donation is another example of the conservation ethic of private landowners which is at the heart of Northern Prairies mission On another topic persistent flooding of our prairie rivers underlines the importance of the Big Sioux River Conservation Easement Program administered by Northern Prairies The Program protects and improves water quality in the Big Sioux watershed by creating grass buffer strips along the river shore that prevent erosion and move grazers back from the water s edge These buffer strips also provide natural areas for floodwaters to spread out and slow the flows during flood In addition because buildings are not allowed in the buffer strips no costly structural damage occurs Northern Prairies believes that what began as an experimental program now justifies our dream of protected riparian corridors along the edge of all prairie rivers There is a lot of action on the prairies this time of year for both humans and wildlife On thousands of carefully selected acres landowners will be conducting prescribed burns mimicking a cycle Mother Nature used to allow happen The burns rejuvenate the native grasses and forbs and provide improved forage for livestock and improved habitat for all types of wildlife Northern Prairies Field Biologists in Nebraska and South Dakota help educate landowners about prescribed burns by co sponsoring classes and demonstrations and assist in bringing interested landowners together to help each other Finally this is the season when Northern Prairies staff and volunteers begin the annual monitoring process When Northern Prairies accepts a perpetual conservation easement it undertakes to monitor and enforce those restrictions in perpetuity This is our commitment and we take it seriously it is important and time consuming but also a joy as we visit some of the finest natural areas on the prairie Each property is visited discussions are held with the current landowners and full use is made of modern global positioning technology Most of you realize that the current economic climate has presented a challenge for conservation organizations and that applies to Northern Prairies At the same time we take energy and optimism from the conservation

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