I often try to imagine what the prairies looked like when the first Europeans saw this area. Now, as we look at it, the landscape is much changed; invaded by trees and other species not native to the area. As we restore part of our farm to its original prairie and wetland appearance, I can begin to see the past a bit more clearly.
As I read early accounts of our area of western Minnesota, the writers tell of expanses of native grasses and wetlands that stretched to the sky. They describe viewing in all directions and having the skyline unbroken by any trees. Such a landscape is extremely difficult to visualize. The area has been changed extensively since those early times.
The restoration process is a bit painful as the backhoes and dozers tear out the trees and brush, leaving the rolling landscape wide open. Our views are changing. Our hope is to restore the grassland and wetland areas, making the area attractive to nesting waterfowl and upland birds, in the process. Few types of habitat have been so totally overtaken by man as our American native prairies. Restoring a bit of it helps to reconnect us to a time before; to a wild and open landscape which vividly represents the American West.