For the past three years, Good Earth State Park has partnered with EcoSun Prairie farms, a South Dakota-based nonprofit organization founded in 2007, to demonstrate the multiple societal benefits of prairie restoration. Tall grass prairie once dominated the landscape of South Dakota. Prior to the partnership between EconSun Prairie Farms and Good Earth, perennial prairies scarcely existed in eastern, South Dakota. EcoSun has now established more than 100 acres of prairie within Good Earth State Park.

Jarchow, chair and professor in the Department of Sustainability & Environment, played an important role in the process of the prairie establishment. As a prairie ecologist and EcoSun Board of Directors member, Jarchow provided expertise and contributed to fundraising efforts, seed mixes, path layouts, management recommendations and utilization of prairie for market based purposes.

The 106-acre tall grass prairie establishment contains mostly perennial plants. These rare, greenhouse-grown and transplanted plants increase the biodiversity of the landscape. The public walking trails and informative signage enable visitors to fully experience an expansive prairie landscape.

“People don't know what prairie is or what it looks like, so it is hard to expect people to want to try and preserve it if they don't know what it is, or they haven't seen it,” said Jarchow. “The idea with the Good Earth prairie is public access and education, as well as a broader awareness about prairie and applied uses for prairie.”

This prairie will enrich the experience for visitors, adding to the park’s importance as a destination for admiring and experiencing natural beauty, enjoying the outdoors and learning about localized American Indian culture and ecological history.

Earlier this fall, EcoSun officially turned over the management of the 100 acres of prairie to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

Jarchow also contributes to other prairie restoration projects and prairie research. She serves as the president of the Board of Directors for the Spirit Mound Trust and often leads student groups to participate in site visits to the Spirit Mound State Historic Prairie.

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