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The Brandenburg Prairie Foundation was established in 1999 by former National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Jim Brandenburg, his wife Judy, and many dedicated supporters in Luverne, Minnesota. The foundation’s mission is to promote, preserve and expand the native prairie in southwest Minnesota. Through numerous projects, the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation educates and heightens 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 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, it has become rare and one of the most fragmented, leaving less than one percent of the original Northern Tallgrass Prairie in the upper Midwest intact. It is arguably North America’s most endangered ecosystem. Through fragmentations, 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.

The Brandenburg Prairie Foundation, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have purchased over 800 acres of untilled prairie land in Rock County, Minnesota creating the “Touch the Sky Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge.” Together, they 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. Their dream is to see the bison roaming “Touch the Sky Prairie” again.

If you would like to participate in permanent protection and restoration of the native prairie in southwest Minnesota, please become a member of the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation. To make a donation please contact the Brandenburg Gallery, Luverne, MN, toll-free 888-283-4061 or donate online at www.brandenburgprairiefoundation.org.

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