A new alliance of organizations dedicated to the voluntary restoration of native grasses on working lands in the U.S. is launching this week in conjunction with National Prairie Day celebration, Saturday, June 6, founded by the Missouri Prairie Foundation.
The Native Grasslands Alliance (NGA) includes organizations whose core missions include a commitment to restore native grasslands vegetation on agricultural/working landscapes. The NGA will work to provide a unified voice, one that can amplify the message about the importance and value of native grasslands. Outreach efforts by the NGA will focus on federal/state lawmakers and agencies, the agriculture education sector, and key citizen and non-profit conservation groups across the country.
Among the NGA’s founding members are the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative, Truax Company, Inc., the National Wildlife Federation, Center for Native Grasslands Management, Missouri Prairie Foundation, Roundstone Native Seed, Chesapeake Valley Seed and the Quality Deer Management Association.
The alliance has grown out of the Natives First Coalition, an effort launched by the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) to educate those associated with the development of the 2018 Farm Bill about the contributions native grasses make to agriculture, wildlife, water and air quality, and soil conservation and health. Seeking a voluntary, non-regulatory native vegetation policy in USDA agricultural conservation programs, the effort resulted in recognition of the contribution of native vegetation in the conference managers’ report and instructions to use natives when “practicable.” Subsequently, a subset of coalition participants identified the need for a more organized, diverse and formal group to continue building on that momentum.
“Although there are tremendous local and regional efforts promoting native grasslands, the grassland community has lacked a national, coordinated, unified voice illuminating the value of native grasslands,” said acting NBCI Director Dr. Pat Keyser. “The Native Grasslands Alliance provides that voice to elevate the status and ultimately the adoption of native grassland vegetation into working landscapes. The NGA isn’t just about working landscape though, we also recognize the importance of preserving what’s left of critical, remnant native grasslands and restoration where possible.”
The new alliance is focused around four working groups; policy, research, technical education and awareness. Organizations are encouraged to participate in one or more of the groups.
“We’re asking individuals to encourage their respective organizations to join the NGA. Individuals may join the NGA Community to keep up-to-date on NGA activities and participate in working groups,” Dr. Keyser said.
For more information and to join, organizational representatives should visit www.nativegrasslandsalliance.org.