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Meadowlark singing on fencepost with cow grazing in background

Meadowlark Initiative

What is the Meadowlark Initiative

  • A strategy initiated by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, tapping into the collective insights, resources and efforts of conservation, agriculture and industry partners to enhance, restore and sustain native grasslands in North Dakota.
  • A vision to promote and create healthy, thriving grasslands that provide biodiversity and prosperity for wildlife, pollinators, ranching operations and communities by supporting ranching, establishing grasslands, offsetting developmental impacts, promoting societal benefits, and advancing science and education.
    • Healthy, diverse native grasslands make up vital habitat for North Dakota’s state bird, the Western meadowlark, the ambassador for this proactive, comprehensive effort to conserve grasslands in the state.
    • Landowner/Producer Assistance Programs

For more information about Meadowlark Initiative programs contact Meadowlark Initiative Coordinator Heather Husband online or by calling 701-223-8501.

Why was the Initiative Created

The decline of North Dakota's prairies impacts not only grassland dependent species, but also people, communities, lifestyles, future generations, heritage and quality of life. Water, soil, energy and food are all intertwined in the fate of the prairies. And long-standing trends are raising the alarm about the fate of all those components.

  • The Western meadowlark is declining 1.3% per year in North Dakota
  • 53% population loss in grassland birds since 1970 (about 720 million birds)
  • 72% of the native prairie has been converted to other uses
  • The number of U.S. cattle ranches is declining 1% per year
  • 1 out of 4 bumble bees are at risk of extinction within 50 years
  • 60% of the nearly 5 million wetland acres in North Dakota have been converted or lost

infographic visually showing the needs facts posted above

Related News

Screenshot of the cover of the State of the Birds Report by Cornell Labs

State of the Birds Report
Cornell Lab

"The State of the Birds 2022 report sounds an alarm about steep population losses in virtually all habitats." - The U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative

Screenshot of the first page of the Plow Print Report by the World Wildlife Fund

Plow Print Report
World Wildlife Fund

The Plow Print Report "analyzes the rate of grasslands plow-up across the US, Canadian, and Mexican portions of the Great Plains." - World Wildlife Fund"


Screenshot of the Act for Grasslands org homepage

The North American Grasslands Conservation Act
Act For Grasslands Organization

"The Time is Now for a Bold New National Policy on Grasslands" - Act For Grasslands Organization

More News


Meadowlark Initiative Elements

Support Ranching

Revitalize, reconnect and sustain existing working grasslands and ranches

Ranching and grass-based operations are vital to keeping the remaining native prairie grasslands on the landscape.

Landowner/Producer Assistance Programs

Grazing cattle

Establish Grasslands

Reinvent and implement a statewide grassland reconstruction program

A smart investment in our natural resource future includes reinventing a statewide working grasslands program for livestock producers and other private landowners who want to rebuild native grasslands on their land.

Grassland Resources


Offset Development Impacts

Offset impacts to grassland habitat function and value as development advances

Our state can develop its vast resources with minimal impact to grasslands, and by offsetting residual impacts of the development, whether it is rural or urban environments.

Management Practices


Promote Societal Benefits

Promote sustainable and resilient grasslands for vibrant communities and human well-being

Resilient grasslands start with healthy soil. Healthy soils support a healthy life for humans and animals by sequestering carbon, storing and filtering water, reducing erosion and improving wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

Societal Benefits

Monarch butterfly on grassland flower

Advance Science and Education

Advance grassland ecosystem recovery through science and education

With the cooperation of landowners, monitoring the response of grassland birds, pollinators and soil health will foster healthy, profitable working grasslands.

Science and Education

Field tour

Support Pollinators

Establish habitat for pollinators

You don't have to own a farm or ranch or even a large plot of land to help grassland species. If your outdoor space is limited to a yard or perhaps just a deck or patio, you can still help support our grassland species by planting a pollinator garden or even just putting potted flowers on your deck.

Supporting Pollinators

Hoverbee on a Maximillian sunflower

Meadowlark Initiative Logo