Proceedings from Second America’s Grasslands Conference Released

America’s iconic prairies continue to be one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, but key opportunities exist to protect and restore them, particularly through partnerships between ranchers, conservationists, and researchers.

03-14-2014 // Aviva Glaser

grassy knoll with buffalo

America’s iconic prairies continue to be one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, but key opportunities exist to protect and restore them, particularly through partnerships between ranchers, conservationists, and researchers, according to the Proceedings of the 2nd Biennial Conference on the Conservation of America’s Grasslands, released today by the National Wildlife Federation and Kansas State University.

America’s Grasslands Conference: The Future of Grasslands in a Changing Landscape was held in Manhattan, KS from August 12-14, 2013. To work together to conserve American grasslands and the wildlife that depend on them, the conference brought together around 225 biologists, policy experts, ranchers, federal and state agency staff, graduate students and conservationists.

The two-day conference included more than 80 speakers and poster presentations. The conference proceedings provide open access to a high quality source of information on 13 topics related to grassland conservation, including grazing and grasslands, grasslands and wildlife, landscape planning and management for grassland conservation, energy development, and federal policy.

"The future of grasslands is truly at stake," said John Briggs, director of the Konza Prairie Biological Station, professor at Kansas State University and co-chair of the conference. "However, we have a unique opportunity to work with ranchers to conserve grasslands and to use scientific principles to better manage our existing grasslands."

One of the highlights of the conference was the emphasis on finding innovating ways to create economic and working land opportunities for grasslands and livestock producers. Conference presenters pointed to market drivers, carbon offsets, contract grazing, and federal policy tools as potential ways to help create economic incentives to keep grasslands in grazing.

"Grasslands provide habitat for wildlife, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, provide clean water benefits and help conserve healthy soil," said Aviva Glaser, agriculture policy specialist at the National Wildlife Federation and co-chair of the event. "We must continue to create economic incentives to help landowners to protect and restore our remaining grasslands"

Conference proceedings can be read here.

Find out more about America’s Grasslands Conference at  http://www.nwf.org/grasslandsconference.