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Land goes back to nature at DCTC

The landscape around Dakota County Technical College has slowly been changing. What used to be huge expanses of green grass has been turned into wild prairie.

The college hasn't gotten lazy about its weeding and mowing. It's changing its landscape on purpose. As part of its Green College Commitment the college has transformed nearly 20 acres of its property into prairie land. The college has replaced turf on both sides of the campus along County Road 42 with native grasses and flowers including black-eyed Susan, Canada milk vetch, common ox-eye, golden Alexander, New England aster and yellow coneflower.

Operations manager Paul DeMuth said the transformation has several benefits.

"In the past we have spent hours and hours mowing, this cuts down on labor and emissions from doing that," said DeMuth.

DeMuth said the college will continue to mow along 42 to reduce fire risk.

DeMuth also believes the prairie lands have aesthetic appeal.

"I think it looks nice," said DeMuth.

Eventually DeMuth he would like to have 50 acres of the DCTC property converted to prairie but for now he's happy with the progress made. The college will have to do some maintenance with the prairie over the next couple years to make sure it thrives, but after a couple of years it should become self sustaining.

The college partnered with several organizations to make the project possible. Pheasants Forever helped DCTC obtain seeds saving the college money. Xcel Energy and Great River Energy also contributed to the project. Crews at the college completed the work, which also cut down on costs.

"This project is not only great for the college, but it will benefit the local area and serve as a building block for future projects," said Dan Richmond, president of the Mississippi Longtails Chapter of Pheasants Forever.