SPIRIT MOUND TRUST
P.O. BOX 603
VERMILLION SD 57069
The Recent Past
As recently as 2001, Spirit Mound was home to a cattle feedlot, farmhouse, concrete trench silo, numerous small buildings, and a tree shelterbelt. Much of the land was used for farming and pasture, and the heavy use began to cause erosion and other damage to the Mound, in addition to making one of the state’s most important pieces of history aesthetically unpleasing.
Through the efforts of the Spirit Mound trust, the land that housed Spirit Mound was purchased from multiple landowners on July 29, 2001 and efforts began to return Spirit Mound to one of the most divers tallgrass prairies in the area.
In 2002, buildings, trees, fences, and roads were cleared and buried and the land was prepared for planting of native seeds. Nearly $200,000 was spent on seeds of native species. Since the first planting, there has been a continous cycle of spraying and burning in order to keep invasive species under control. The diverse tall-grass prairie has also contributed to an increase in the number of bird, insect and mammal species on the Spirit Mound site.
Following the first seeding many native grasses thrived. However in some areas the annual weeds and non-0-native grasses dominated. The differential success was due to contrasting land use histories. With good management practices we hope the entire 320 acres will become a highly diversified prairie in a few years.
Biologists at the University of South Dakota did ecological studies at the mound during the summers of 2003-2005. Their work established a biological baseline which will allow us to measure restoration progress. View the Final Report Here.