North American Prairie Conference


Date of this Version



Published in Dave Egan & John A. Harrington, editors, Proceedings of the 19th North American Prairie Conference: The Conservation Legacy Lives On..., University of Wisconsin-Madison, August 8-12, 2004 (Proceedings of the North American Prairie Conference, 19), Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004.


The protection and management of pioneer cemetery prairies is a daunting challenge. As the public has become accustomed to highly manicured grass in their backyard lawns, neighborhood parks and cemeteries, prairie cemeteries, with grasses three- to six-feet tall, are often thought to be abandoned or unkept even though the cemeteries retain their original vegetation. Caring for prairie plants, protecting cemetery stones, and providing public access need not be goals that stand in conflict. Working in conjunction, cemetery advocates, archaeologists, and plant biologists can reach satisfactory accommodations. This paper gives an overview of the protection status of pioneer cemetery prairies and savannas in Illinois and the issues faced by those managing for the natural vegetation within these cemeteries along with providing an approach on how to deal with potential conflicts arising between the need to preserve the cultural heritage of the cemetery and conduct management necessary to maintain the historic prairie and savanna communities.