Tallgrass Restoration, LLC
A Tallgrass LegacySummer News
July 2011 - Vol. 3 Iss. 3
Greetings!Tallgrass logo

Summer has finally arrived.  The snow is just a memory and the heat has taken over and now it's time to sit back, relax and enjoy your spring labors.  Your flowers should be in bloom; your gardens are taking shape and the world outside your window is "going green."   The "Succession of Colors on the Tallgrass Farm Prairie" article is one you won't want to miss.  It is not only educational, but the pictures are gorgeous to look at.  If you're ever in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by and see the prairies up close and in person.  Don't hesitate to call Tallgrass if we can be of help with any of your restoration needs.  Feel free to visit our website at www.tallgrassrestoration.com to view some of the services we offer. 

Hope you enjoy our summer newsletter and as always, send any comments, suggestions or thoughts to:
 

 - Your Friends at Tallgrass
  


P.S. We're always up to something interesting here at
Tallgrass. Friend Us! on Facebook to get regular updates.
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The Plant Corner
 
purple1This edition of The Plant Corner highlights the native species:
 - Pale Purple Cone-flower

and the Invasive Species:
 - White Clover

Highway Rights Of Way Going Native 
 
highway1The old paradigm is that roads and highways, with their paved surfaces and loud whizzing traffic, are a conservationist's nightmare. It's time to revise this paradigm since, in fact, road and highway areas not only often harbor important habitat, they can be designed and maintained to contribute to conservation goals. 
 
Government Programs 
 
The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for landowners who are interested in developing and improving wildlife habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land, and Tribal land.

More...

Lake Koshkonong Dredging


Discussions are ongoing between the Rock Koshkonong Lake District ("RKLD"), The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Wisconsin DNR about undertaking a dredging project in Lake Koshkonong that will not only improve the ecological functions of the lake, but benefit recreational boaters and landowners. 

 

Tracy's Treats
treats1 
Lots of delicious summer produce is now available in supermarkets, roadside stands and backyard gardens alike. Here are a couple ideas on what to do with your Beans and Tomatoes. 

 

More... 

Tallgrass Provides Watershed Planning Help To Spring Creek
 
The Spring Creek Watershed Partnership ("Partnership") was formed to develop a plan for the Spring Creek Watershed that will improve the water quality within the watershed. Tallgrass Restoration was the founding sponsor of the Partnership and has served on the Technical Advisory Committee of the Spring Creek Watershed Partnership on a volunteer basis since its inception.
 
Correction:
 
In the original version of the April, 2011 Newsletter, the picture of the "Showy Lady's Slipper" was mislabeled as a "Pink Lady's Slipper."  Thanks to the sharp eyes of Kim Karol who pointed out this mistake.


Succession of Color on Tallgrass Farm Prairie 

 

prairie1

Tallgrass Farm is approximately 215 acres of former cropland that has been restored to prairie and wetland.  Due to the hard work of Tallgrass employees, it has been transformed into a glorious natural area that showcases colors for each season.

 

More...                  

Edible Plants edible1

  

Who would have thought that some of the common "weeds" we see everyday are really edible plants?   You would be surprised at what is out there, and if you are creative you can make some very unique recipes.
            

More...                      

 

Bird Surrogators
 
If you are anything like the crew at Tallgrass, hunting pheasants and quail is a way of relaxing and enjoying the camaraderie of fellow hunters.  Over the last couple of years we have been using a surrogator to raise our own birds.

Plant I.D. Quiz
 

quiz1Take a minute to test your ability to recognize native plants.  The quiz is now "online" - try it as many times as you wish.  Good Luck!

 

More... 

Using Native Plants to Create Art

 
art3

 

Tallgrass Restoration recently donated plants to be used as part of a street artwork display in downtown Waukegan.  This innovative and whimsical piece was created for Waukegan's annual ArtWauk show and is a piano painted and filled with plantings.

 

More... 

 

Follow-Up And Installation Of Tallgrass Farm's Barn Quilt
 
barn1As you may recall from our January, 2011 article, barn quilts in the US can be traced back to the earliest Dutch settlers, who would use the quilts to show off their heritage, advertise their businesses, or simply to display their artwork to the people viewing them. In the spring of 2011, Tallgrass Restoration decided to join the barn quilt fun with a pattern called the "lone star."
 
Ask the Ecologist
 
Ask your friendly neighborhood Tallgrass Ecologist that eco-question you've always wanted to ask.
 
More... 
 
More Articles and Links 
 
 

The Plant Corner

 

In each newsletter, we will highlight one native plant species and one invasive plant species found in our region.   


Native
Pale Purple Cone-flower
 
The Pale Purple Cone-flower (Echinacea pallida (Nutt.)) is a species of herbaceous plant in the family Asteraceae.  It is sometimes grown in gardens and used for medicinal purposes. Its native range is the south central region of the United States and it is a Wisconsin State Threatened plant.
purple1  
The plant usually grows 1.5 to 2.5 feet tall and has large, daisy-like flowers with drooping, pale pinkish-purple petals and spiny, knob-like, coppery-orange center cones. The flowers appear on rigid stems 2-3 feet tall over a long summer bloom. The best flower display is in late June to late July, with sporadic continued bloom into autumn. The dead flower stems will remain erect well into the winter and, if flower heads are not removed, are often visited by goldfinches which perch on or just below the blackened cones to feed on the seeds.

While the plant prefers full sun, it will also grow in partial shade.  It is an adaptable plant that is tolerant of drought, heat, humidity and poor soils.

The Pale Purple Coneflower, or better known medicinally as Echinacea, has long been used for medicinal purposes.  Both the roots and the above ground parts of the plants are used.  Prior to the advent of antibiotics, Echinacea was used to treat conditions such as gangrene, tuberculosis, diphtheria and other serious diseases.  Today, Echinacea is used as a short term stimulant to the immune system, especially as a preventative at the onset of colds and flu, or to reduce the symptoms and duration of cold and flu viruses.  However, several widely publicized clinical studies have found that Echinacea has little effect in the prevention and treatment of upper respiratory tract illnesses.
 
 
Invasive
White Clover
 
clover1 
 
The White Clover is a common plant that occurs in all 50 states.  It is a member of the legume family and is biennial. The plant is about 6" tall with leaves that are divided into three finely toothed leaflets, with the middle leaflet occurring on a distinct stalk. The flowers are packed densely on the top four inches of an elongated stem. Each small flower is attached to the stem by a stalk. Children have long used clover to braid or knot into necklaces and chains. 

White Clover is native to Europe and Asia and was introduced into the United States in the late 1600s as an agricultural crop for forage and honey production.   It prefers disturbed grassy areas such as fields, pastures, meadows, lawns, and mowed roadsides that are at least partially sunny.  While White Clover is considered an invasive plant, it is not a particularly troublesome one as it does not grow tall enough to be very competitive with the native vegetation.  In addition, the ecological value of White Clover to wildlife is quite high as bees visit the flower heads to collect pollen or suck nectar, and caterpillars, game birds, songbirds, and small and large mammals all feed on it.
  

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Succession of Color on Tallgrass Farm Prairie

 

Tallgrass Farm is approximately 215 acres of former cropland that has been restored to prairie and wetland.  Due to the hard work of Tallgrass employees, it has been transformed into a glorious natural area that showcases colors for each season.  It is covered by a conservation easement which ensures that it will remain a natural area forever. 


The succession of color on the Tallgrass Farm prairie is an amazing spectacle.  While the prairie truly peaks in color during late July and August when the grasses exhibit ever-changing hues and flowers carpet the landscape, each season has its beauty. 


Early Summer


The prairie first starts to spring to life in May and June when the purple and white colors of Ohio spiderwort and white wild indigo dominate. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Mid-Summer

 

In the mid-summer the prairie explodes with the yellow, orange and purple flowers of sunflowers, blazingstars, butterfly milkweed, compass plant and coneflowers.

   

 
 

  

 

 

Late Summer
 

The late summer is dominated by the purple, pink and yellow flowers of goldenrods, asters and gentians.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall

 

The fall is not to be missed.  This is the season of the grasses.  The grasses carpeting the landscape begin to deepen their hues as the season progresses ending in bronze-reds and golden straw colors.

 

 

 

Winter

 
While the winter season on the prairie lacks the brilliant colors of the growing seasons, it has its own allure.  It is still, defined, and hauntingly beautiful.

 

 

Pictures could never come close to fully representing the spectacle that our prairie presents. Please come by and see for yourself at 3129 E. County Road N in Milton, Wisconsin!

 

  

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Highway Rights of Way Going Native

 

highway1

The old paradigm is that roads and highways, with their paved surfaces and loud whizzing traffic, are a conservationist's nightmare.  They create noise, air and water pollution, destroy and fragment wild habitats, act as invasion routes for invasive species, are barriers to animal movement and each year are the cause of millions of animal deaths due to collision with vehicles.  It's time to revise this paradigm since, in fact, road and highway areas not only often harbor important habitat, they can be designed and maintained to contribute to conservation goals.

Roadsides often are some of the last vestiges of undisturbed land.  Because they were never plowed and cultivated, they often provide rare remnant habitats for rare native species.  The southeastern sunflower (Helianthus schweinitzii), an almost 10 foot tall sunflower, has only 35 populations in North Carolina and South Carolina and most of them are along road rights-of-way.  Similarly, another endangered species, the smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata) has been reduced to 24 populations, several of which are located on roadsides.  In addition, uncommon birds such as loggerhead shrikes are often found along roads.  

Even where roadsides don't harbor native remnants, they can still contribute to conservation goals.  In the past, roadsides were most commonly planted in turf grass. Turf grass is not a great choice for roadsides because it requires mowing and herbiciding, is not drought resistant, and does not provide habitat for native species.  On the other hand, native perennial plants are adapted to the local soils, heat and drought so they have more success than a turf grass.  There is consequently little or no maintenance necessary with established native plantings.  Therefore the time and cost of maintenance, as well as the reduction in pollution from the use of the fossil fuels for mowing, are all significantly reduced. 

Planting native species along roadways can also help to provide habitat for native animal species.  In addition, roadsides can supply movement corridors for many species of wildlife.  Not to be ignored is the increased beautification of our roadsides, which will reflect the diversity of our country.  While there are some limitations on what is appropriate to plant on roadsides (i.e. no trees within a certain distance from the road to limit collisions between cars and trees), the use of native plantings can be a mutually beneficial endeavor for the environment, those responsible for roadside maintenance, and drivers.  
                                        


bedsEdible Plants
 

Who would have thought that some of the common "weeds" we see everyday are really edible plants?   You would be surprised at what is out there, and if you are creative you can make some very unique recipes.

 

Most of us would not add Elderberry, Sassafras, and Dandelion to our summer salads, but they do belong in the world of wild edible plants. Most people count on stores to get their daily fare rather than foraging for food. Hunting, fishing, and discovering edible wild plants date back thousands of years. On your next camping or hiking trip be adventuresome and forage for edible wild plants. You will be surprised at what is available, and you just may strike up the courage to cook a meal!

 

Plant experts from around the world have identified some key plants and guides that offer nutrition, health benefits, and various cooking and preservation requirements.

Most of the following wild edible plants, flowers, and "foods," can be found in the upper-Midwest region, but if you check with your local farmers, environmental/ecological groups, nature preserves, and books, you can find your state's most popular wild edible food lists.

 

edible1  

Elderberry
Elderberry has been used as a native sweetener, and makes a great sweet sauce or jam.

 

 

 

Dandelion
Some consider the dandelion a pesky weed, but others know dandelion for its high concentrations of vitamins A and C. Originally from Europe, this plant has made its way onto American soil, and offers an excellent coffee for drinking on cold days. Dandelion greens and tender leaves can also be cooked, or served raw in salads.

 

 

 

Sassafras
 
Sassafras tea is possibly the best known use of this plant, and was used primarily along the areas of Appalachia. Medicinal use includes using the oil in soap and as a calming agent, while the tea aids in relaxation. The tea is made from boiling sassafras root with water and sugar.

 

 

 

Common Cattail
This plant was first used by Native Americans. The green shoots can be used as fresh greens, while the flowers can be boiled and served like corn on the cob.

 

 

Day Lily
In the Far East the day lily is used as a food, and is eaten as a fresh green. The flowers also make excellent soup thickeners, and the root tubers are similar to potatoes in consistency.

 

 

Government Programs 

 

The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for landowners who are interested in developing and improving wildlife habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land, and Tribal land.

 

The Natural Resources Conservation Service administers WHIP to provide assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP cost-share agreements generally last from one year after the last conservation practice is implemented but not more than 10 years from the date the agreement is signed.

NRCS has established the following national priorities in order to provide direction for implementing WHIP:

  • Promote the restoration of declining or important native fish and wildlife habitats
  • Protect, restore, develop or enhance fish and wildlife habitat to benefit at-risk species
  • Reduce the impacts of invasive species on fish and wildlife habitats
  • Protect, restore, develop or enhance declining or important aquatic wildlife species' habitats
  • Protect, restore, develop or enhance important migration and other movement corridors for wildlife

If you are interested in participating in a WHIP program, call the local Natural Resources Conservation Service offices in your area or give Tallgrass Restoration a call and we can help make your land suitable for a wildlife habitat development. 


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Bird Surrogators

 



If you are anything like the crew at Tallgrass, hunting pheasants and quail is a way of relaxing and enjoying the camaraderie of fellow hunters.  Over the last couple of years we have been using a surrogator to raise our own birds. 

 

A surrogator is a self-contained unit that will aid in establishing a population of game birds.  It functions as a "surrogate parent" by providing food, water, warmth and protection for the first five weeks of the bird's life. A surrogator box is placed in a location where a huntable population of pheasant or quail is desired.  The birds remain in the area even into maturity due to their natural instinct to live and reproduce where they were raised and released.

 

A surrogator will hold 125 day-old quail chicks or 65 day-old pheasant chicks until they reach five weeks of age. Chicks raised in a surrogator are protected from predators and the elements at a time when they are most vulnerable. Research proves that game birds develop their natural survival instincts around five weeks of age. Chicks raised in a surrogator have limited human contact, further protecting the natural survivability of the birds.                                        


golfHopes That Lake Koshkonong Dredging Will Lead To Improved Lake Functions

  
  
  
Discussions are ongoing between the Rock Koshkonong Lake District ("RKLD"), The US Army Corps of Engineers and the Wisconsin DNR about undertaking a dredging project in Lake Koshkonong that will not only improve the ecological functions of the lake, but benefit recreational boaters and landowners.  The plan is to dredge areas of the lake and then use the dredged material to build islands designed to shelter bays and coves on the lake.  

  

The first step in the project has been to map the topography of Lake Koshkonong's silt-laden bottom.   The central channel of the lake is only 5-7 feet deep, while the lake's bays and coves are between 2-4 feet deep.  Residents have been forced to extend piers nearly 300 feet in order to reach water deep enough for boating.  The data used from the mapping is used to update the lake bottom map so that the most effective dredging plan can be implemented.  

 

The plan is to use dredged material to form a number of small islands that would be topped with silt for plant cover and would likely be ringed with riprap composed of a variety of rock types to keep sediment from washing away.  The main purpose of constructing the islands would be to break up wave fetch, and therefore reduce erosion.  Fetch is the distance a wave travels - the greater the fetch the larger the wave.  Creating the islands and reducing erosion would, in turn, protect sensitive wetland shoreline areas and increase the habitat for migratory birds. 

 

There has been some concern that the islands would not be able to withstand the forces of nature without being contained by a substantial structure.  There are also questions as to how the project will be funded.   

 

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golfTracy's Treats


Lots of delicious summer produce is now available in supermarkets, roadside stands and backyard gardens alike. Here are a couple ideas on what to do with your Beans and Tomatoes. 

 

Bean Salad

 

  
  
  

2 lbs fresh beans
c. onion, diced
c. green pepper, diced
c. vinegar
c. salad oil
2 tbl sugar
tea celery seed
tea dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced.

 

Mix vinegar, oil, sugar and spices. Toss with beans, onion and pepper. Refrigerate overnight, but at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally. This side-dish recipe serves 6.

 

 

Fried Green Tomatoes

  

treats1

 

3-4 medium sized green tomatoes, sliced inch thick
c. milk
c. all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
c. bread crumbs, fine dry
c. oil
Salt & pepper to taste  

 

After sprinkling with salt & pepper, dip the tomato slices first in the milk, then in the flour and then the bread crumbs. Fry the slices in hot oil, about 8-10 minutes on each site or until brown. Be sure not to over crowd the pan and to turn down the heat if the tomatoes brown too quickly. Add more oil and allow the pan to reheat in between batches if needed.

 

 

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leadUsing Native Plants to Create Art

 

Tallgrass Restoration recently donated plants to be used as part of a street artwork display in downtown Waukegan. This innovative and whimsical piece was created for Waukegan's annual ArtWauk show and is a piano painted and filled with plantings. It will be on display all summer. Take a look if you are in downtown Waukegan!

 art3 

 

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tipsTallgrass Provides Watershed Planning Help To Spring Creek  
 

The Spring Creek Watershed Partnership ("Partnership") was formed to develop a plan for the Spring Creek Watershed that will improve the water quality within the watershed.  While the Spring Creek Watershed is located primarily in Cook County in the Barrington/Barrington Hills area, it also extends into Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.  Tallgrass Restoration was the founding sponsor of the Partnership and has served on the Technical Advisory Committee of the Spring Creek Watershed Partnership on a volunteer basis since its inception.  In that capacity, Tallgrass Restoration has advised the Partnership on issues regarding the establishment of goals and objectives to be addressed in the watershed resource inventory and watershed plan.  
 

 

Currently, Tallgrass Restoration is working as a subcontractor to Applied Ecological Services, Inc. which has a contract with the Partnership to prepare a watershed plan for Spring Creek. Tallgrass is visiting all water bodies, other than those on forest preserve properties, within the watershed (retention ponds, wetlands, tributaries, and the creek itself) to document general existing conditions and determine potential Best Management Practice projects such as streambank stabilization, riffle installation, riparian buffer restoration, etc. that could be implemented in the future for the improvement of the watershed. Tallgrass has recorded its findings, made recommendations, and documented the conditions with photographs. 

 

 

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Follow-Up And Installation Of Tallgrass Farm's Barn Quilt  

 

As you may recall from our January, 2011 article, barn quilts in the US can be traced back to the earliest Dutch settlers, who would use the quilts to show off their heritage, advertise their businesses, or simply to display their artwork to the people viewing them. However, the quilt trend died out over time, until it was revived in 2001, when quilts began showing up again on barns and businesses in Ohio. The movement has spread rapidly in the decade since, and now 27 states have significant numbers of quilts decorating the structures on which they hang.

 

These "quilts" are usually made up of two pieces of plywood on a simple two-by-four frame. They are painted in different colors, patterns, and imagery that are often, but not always used to symbolize the heritage of the farmers displaying them. Designs range from the simple, to elaborate, to the expressive and impressive.

 

The barn quilt trend has been catching fire in Wisconsin, as quilts are adorning more and more barns, especially in the southern counties of Green, Rock, and Walworth. They are becoming so popular in fact, that a daylong bus tour has been set up by Rock County's Association for Home and Community Education to view many of the over 100 quilts in Rock County alone.  (See below for detailed information on the bus tour.)

 

In the spring of 2011, Tallgrass Restoration decided to join the barn quilt fun. Several design options were selected and put up for a vote amongst Tallgrass employees and friends. The winning design was a pattern called the "lone star." The lone star design is a 16-sided fractal that is divided up into smaller patterned shapes, which were then individually painted in green, white, and blue. With this painted shape on a white background, the quilt square takes on a kaleidoscopic appearance, and really stands out against the bright red barn on which it is mounted.

 

In order to mount the quilt on the third story of the Tallgrass barn, a 60-foot boom lift and two very brave men were needed. After about an hour, some nervous laughter, and lots of helpful input from the two ground level supervisors (Tracy Runice and Chris Kaplan), the quilt was successfully mounted. In its lifetime it will be viewed by thousands of passersby on Wisconsin's Highway 59.

 

Additional Information about the Barn Quilt Tour:

 

Date and Time: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 8am-5pm

 

Van Galder coach bus Tour of the Barn Quilts of Rock County, Wisconsin
Sponsored by the Rock Co. Association for Home and Community Education (HCE)
The bus will depart Janesville at 8am (from the K-Mart parking lot at the corner of Highways 14 and 26). The tour will include a narration of barn history and information relative to the over 100 barn quilts now in Rock County. Not all quilts will be seen but about one-quarter of the County will be covered, stopping at local quilt shops, historic buildings and many other sites along the way. Snacks are included in the price of the Tour, however, the cost of lunch at a stop along the way is additional.

 

Cost is $30 ($25 for HCE members)
Reservations are required by August 15, 2011

Make checks payable to RCHCE and send them to:

 

Bonnie Forslund
1114
N. Randall Avenue
Janesville, WI 53545
(608) 752-6566

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  

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Click
HERE to take the Plant ID Quiz!
- PLEASE NOTE: Make sure the initial "Welcome" page fully loads before proceeding with the Quiz.
Click HERE for Ask the Ecologist!
Tallgrass Announcements

 

Tallgrass Anniversaries

 

April - Steve Yost (2 years), Rob Adams (1)
May - Aaron Hocking (7 years), Jordan Rowe (7), Erin Kocourek (4), Kale Olson (1) Ryan Adams (1)
June - Sergio Figueroa (8 years), Ben Lee (2), Ron Adams (2), Catherine Haigh (2), Danae Ehren (1)
July - Mary Kate Lorbach (1)

  

Recent and Upcoming Events:

 

September 22, 2011
Career Fair
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL
www.siu.edu
 

September 28, 2011
Career Fair
University of Wisconsin - Whitewater, Whitewater, WI
www.uww.edu 

 

 

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More About Tallgrass  
 

Tallgrass Contact Information

 

Illinois

 

Project Ecologists

 

Willie Bridgeman

willie.bridgeman@tallgrassrestoration.com

Doug DeWitt

doug.dewitt@tallgrassrestoration.com

Mark Micek

mark.micek@tallgrassrestoration.com

Troy Showerman

troy.showerman@tallgrassrestoration.com

 

 

Wisconsin

 

Project Ecologists

 

Chris Kaplan

chris.kaplan@tallgrassrestoration.com

Jordan Rowe

jordan.rowe@tallgrassrestoration.com

 

 

Illinois and Wisconsin

 

Ron Adams, President

ron.adams@tallgrassrestoration.com

Tracy Runice - Customer Service, General Information, Bonding, Compliance or Insurance 

tracy.runice@tallgrassrestoration.com

 

 

Illinois Office

Wisconsin Office

2221 Hammond Drive

3129 E. County Road N

Schaumburg, IL 60173-3813

Milton, WI 53563

Phone: (847) 925-9830

Phone: (608) 531-1768

Fax: (847) 925-9840

Fax: (608) 551 -2227

 

 

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Thanks for reading the summer issue of A Tallgrass Legacy. Look for our fall issue in October!
 
Sincerely,
Your Friends at Tallgrass Restoration


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Tallgrass Restoration is a subsidiary of Tallgrass Group, a company that integrates land and water stewardship focusing on native landscapes and other ecological solutions including landscape design, conservation development, and wetland banking initiatives.