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Brandenburg Prairie Foundation

Luverne, Minnesota

Cause Description:
Brandenburg Prairie Foundation National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg established the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation in 1999 with the help of a few, dedicated southwestern Minnesota citizens. The Foundation’s goal is to promote, preserve and expand the native prairie in southwest Minnesota. The heart of our mission is to educate and heighten awareness of the prairie’s irreplaceable beauty and significance. Jim’s spirit resides in the prairie - it is his childhood home and is where his photographic career began to bloom. By establishing the Foundation, Jim has turned his passion for the prairie into a lifetime commitment. The prairie was once the continent’s largest ecosystem; today, less than one percent of the Northern Tallgrass Prairie, which once blanketed the upper Midwest, still remains. It is arguably North America’s most endangered ecosystem and is one of the most fragmented. Ecosystems that had once relied on its geographical size for its diversity become disintegrated, causing an imbalance in the intricacies of the native environment. Aside from loss of habitat and equilibrium between predators and preys, fragmentation is responsible for inbreeding among species. In turn, inbreeding will result in weakened species that can no longer survive in an already challenged ecosystem. Although such corruption of habitat occurs very quickly, it will take generations of carefully managed restoration to reverse the damage. Most recently, the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased over 800 acres of untilled prairie land in Rock County, Minnesota creating the “Touch the Sky Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge.” Together, we have developed a 15-year management plan for its restoration. With time and continued effort, hundreds of native species will return – the tall grasses, the songbirds, flora and native wildlife. Our dream is to see the bison roaming “Touch the Sky Prairie” again. To view Jim Brandenburg's award-winning images, please visit

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