Dwayne Estes, executive director of the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative at APSU, stands in a field at Dunbar Cave on May 30, 2017. In a few years, the 15 acres of land will be restored to a prairie grassland. (Photo: Erica Brechtelsbauer / USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee)
The SGI is focused on the Southeastern “interior” grasslands which are found throughout eight major ecoregions in 18 states of the southeastern U.S. (see map). This includes much of the recently designated Coastal Plain Biodiversity Hotspot. All types of grasslands, including prairies, savannas, barrens, glades, outcrops, riverscour, balds, bogs, fens, and other herbaceous wetlands, are considered high priority conservation targets. Priority is placed on (1) protection of high-quality remnant grasslands that support rare species and communities, (2) restoration of degraded grasslands that support or have the potential to support rare species and communities, and (3) re-creation of grassland habitats in areas that were historically grasslands but have succeeded to forests or been converted to agricultural landscapes.