On a gorgeous November 7, 2015, George Howe hosted a gathering of “prairie enthusiasts” from southeast Minnesota on his land near La Crescent, MN. The event included a guided hike of the property “Great Spirit Bluff,” a potluck lunch, and plenty of friendly interaction. Everyone was quite pleased with the turnout of 14 people.
The group enjoyed hiking through a large prairie planting, identifying various native plants, and hearing about the various management strategies that were being applied, including periodic grazing by the resident horse. After a short hike through an oak-hickory woodland, folks arrived at a stunning overlook of the Mississippi River valley. We enjoyed watching eagles and hawks fly and helped harvest some native seeds from the thriving bluff-prairie remnant there. Lead plant, purple prairie clover and cliff goldenrod seeds were among the species gathered for a fall planting elsewhere in Winona County.
After the hike, folks gathered for lunch and discussions back at the house. This was followed by a viewing of TPE’s new “Prairie Enthusiasm” film that everyone seemed to enjoy thoroughly. A lively discussion then began about how folks wanted to start a new chapter of The Prairie Enthusiasts in SE Minnesota; one that would help landowners permanently protect their land, purchase land for prairie preserves, educate the public about prairie resources and provide guidance and expertise for proper management of prairies and oak savannas.
In the end, some folks offered to serve as officers for the new chapter, and the group decided to meet again on December 10 to continue work on forming the new chapter. All in all, it was a great day filled with new friends and new beginnings for TPE in the beautiful bluffs of SE Minnesota.
TPE Board representative, Stephen Winter