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2001 Environmental Excellence Awards

Excellence in Scenic Byways

Photo: Closeup of Prairie shooting star, small white and lavendar flowers with petals that look blown back as if falling from the sky The Prairie shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) is a Minnesota state endangered plant found in the Highway 56 right-of-way in Mower County.

Prairie Visions Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Minnesota Department of Transportation

Right-of-way vegetation along U.S. Highway 56 contains some of the best remnant native prairie in southern Minnesota. In 1981, a population of Prairie Shooting Star was found in the right-of-way. This population was the only known location for this species in the state. By working together, management practices were adapted to protect the Shooting Star and to enhance the prairie vegetation along the route. Mowing and use of herbicides have been reduced and substituted with periodic controlled burns that are conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with local fire departments. The efforts of these agencies, along with the local communities and local volunteers have protected the prairie. The scenic byway has provided travelers with a historic, cultural, and natural resource in which they can view the agricultural landscape, which was shaped by the tallgrass prairies. This cooperative venture shows how a community can preserve its natural and historic resources while creating a diverse, sustainable economy based on transportation, agriculture, tourism, and small businesses.

photo: prairie wildflowers and plants in foreground, oak trees in background

Oak savanna and praire remnant

Project Contributors

Prairie Visions Eileen Hutchins, President Margie Meier, Secretary

Fire Departments ­ LeRoy, Adams, Rose Creek

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Kathryn Bolin, Region 5 State Parks Craig Blommer, Region 5 Trails and Waterways Peter Schafer, Region 4 Wildlife

Minnesota Department of Transportation Barb Bauer, Office of Environmental Services Carrol Evans, District 6B Dale Fleming, District 6B Dale Shaw, District 6B

Photo: roadside view of prairie, oak savanna, corn field, and farm

Here the story of the North American Prairie and the deep rich soil that it created comes together in the travelers eye where the prairie and the agricultural crops meet.

map of the Shooting Star Scenic Byway
Updated: 10/24/2012
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