Prairie Island Park needs permanent protection


From: Richie Swanson,

Winona Bird Club president


Winona Bird Club members believe the nature at Prairie Island Park needs permanent protection. A statement about the park’s conservation can be read under the “Bird Studies” tab at 

Winona’s dog park and adjacent acreage are located on the site of the last remnant of sand prairie in Winona County. Since Minnesota has lost 99 percent of its native prairie, we encourage restoration for as much prairie as possible. We urge protection for all the park’s forest and wetlands, including the deer park location. 

Not long ago a Prairie Island camper could witness a teeming skyscape of nighthawks, swifts, swallows, black terns and bats during summer twilights above the spillway. Now Winona’s skies are virtually empty summer evenings. Yet John Latsch’s gift can still provide crucial habitat. E-Bird — a database of bird sightings created by Cornell Lab of Ornithology — has records for 16 of the 34 bird species that Minnesota legally lists as birds in danger of state extinction. 

Protection can save habitat for endangered frogs and such disappearing wildlife as long-nosed bats. Healthy wetlands help keep water clean. Forests and prairies sequester carbon. Our statement urges the city to celebrate conservation as enthusiastically as tourism and recreation.


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