I Am Conservation

Mike Theurer of Dade County has worked with the Conservation Department for years to improve grassland habitat on his property, which is part of the Golden Grasslands Conservation Opportunity Area (COA). The Golden Grasslands COA includes land important for the restoration of greater prairie chickens. About 95 percent of the COA is privately owned, so landowners like Theurer are crucial to a successful restoration. “Mike is a true partner in grassland conservation,” said Max Alleger, Department grassland bird coordinator. “MDC has long known that successful recovery of prairie chickens and other grassland birds — all wildlife, really — hinges on the interest and help of private landowners.” Theurer has removed trees to expand the prairie vista, an essential starting point for prairie-chicken habitat, and has worked to remove invasive exotic plants, such as tall fescue and sericea lespedeza. “The work Mike has done on his own land is important,” said Alleger, “and his leadership in spreading awareness among his neighbors has helped improve and protect even more grassland.” — photo by Noppadol Paothong.