Nature Conservancy to use grass for energy

Associated Press
Last update: June 11, 2009 – 7:04 AM

MANKATO, Minn. – A conservation group is trying to determine whether prairie grass in southern Minnesota could be used to produce electricity.

The Nature Conservancy will take grass from about 300 acres of native or restored prairies in Nicollet, Le Sueur, Sibley and Rice counties to a new biomass plant in Shakopee and figure out the cost of producing energy from the land.

Besides finding a new way to produce energy, a spokesman for the group says the project is a way to protect tallgrass prairies — a nearly extinct ecosystem. Christopher Anderson says Minnesota is down to less than 1 percent of the prairie land it once had.

The University of Minnesota and local soil and water districts are also helping with the project.

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