Conservation of prairie and oak savanna remnants (i.e., the few remaining pieces of what was present here prior to European settlement) is the primary focus of The Prairie Enthusiasts. However, we also realize (and list below) the conservation benefits to be gained in planting prairie. Notice we use the phrase “planting prairie” as opposed to “prairie restoration”. Prairies are complex communities, both with regard to the plants defining them, as well as the physical and biotic components associated with these grasslands. We can not, at least in the short-term, replicate complex prairie communities by planting prairie. It likely requires hundreds, if not thousands, of years for a fully diverse community of prairie plants and animals to redevelop into a composition and structure equivalent to the original. In other words, plantings are not equal substitutes for remnants when it comes to prairie conservation. Therefore, plantings should not be considered a substitute for protection, restoration, and management of remnants. However, plantings do have an important role to play, given the massive devastation that has occurred to our Midwest prairies.
Books and pamphlets relevant to planting
"Tallgrass Restoration Handbook: for prairies, savannas, and woodlands" (1997) ed. by C.F. Mutel and S. Packard. Island Press, Washington, D.C. 463 pp.
"Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction" by Carl Kurtz in Iowa.
"Plant Species Composition of Wisconsin Prairies: An aid to selecting species for plantings and restorations based upon UW-Madison plant ecology lab data", WI DNR Bureau of Science Services, Tech. Bulletin 188 (1998), PUBL-SS-188-98. Free from DNR Science Operations Center, 2801 Progress Rd, Madison, 53716 (608-221-6320).
Prairie seed companies with expertise in prairie plants and planting
Wisconsin Native Plant Sources provides a great list (in downloadable PDF format) of nurseries that sell native plants and seeds, and includes information about restoration and native ecosystems. Many of these companies have information on planting techniques on their websites or in their catalogs.