Walz co-sponsors prairie protection billby Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio
WORTHINGTON, Minn. — Federal legislation designed to discourage farmers from plowing up native prairie areas includes a co-sponsor from Minnesota.
U.S. Reps. Tim Walz, a Democrat from southern Minnesota, and Kristi Noem, R-S.D., introduced the legislation.
The bill could help prevent the small amounts of native prairie left in the state from becoming cropland, said Dave Nomsen of Pheasants Forever. He added that grassland provides good habitat for many species of birds.
"They can be good brood habitat and nesting habitat for pheasants and quail," Nomsen said. "But at the same time, it's great habitat for bobolinks and dickcissels and a lot of our native sparrows and things that are specifically tied to grassland habitats."
Walz's legislation would reduce federal benefits available for native prairie converted to crops. That is seen as a tool to discourage farmers from plowing up those areas.
Nomsen said Minnesota has very few of those native acres left.
"I would say on a percentage basis, we're down to less than 1 percent of remaining grasslands in this particular area," Nomsen said.