I noticed this sign when my wife and I were out for a walk the other day, and, being the curious sort, I took a picture. I wondered about why the sign was put up -- and just how its regulations might be enforced.

We noticed the sign in an area along the side of a road in the township of Cascade, not too far off 7th Street in northwest Rochester. If you zoom in on the sign, it looks similar to some of the official Minnesota DNR signs that you might see in a state park.

It states the area surrounding area is 'Prairie Planting,' and then says there is 'No unauthorized: ATV Operation, Wild Flower Collection, Mowing/Tillage, Spraying/Haying/Grazing/Rutting.'

After doing a little research online, I found that the sign marks an area of land that is most likely part of a DNR project called, the Minnesota Native Prairie Bank. And according to the DNR program, "A Native Prairie Bank easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The landowner agrees to manage the land under an easement in ways that protect the native prairie in exchange for an upfront, one-time payment. Each easement is tailored to the unique character of the land and desires of the landowner, with common protection features such as no plowing or building on the native prairie."

The program was established to help maintain what was once common here in Minnesota. "Today, less than two percent of Minnesota's native prairie remains. It is North America's most endangered habitat type. The near elimination of native prairie has inspired many efforts to protect remaining parcels. Native Prairie Bank is one of those efforts," the site says.

The area where we saw the sign was a very picturesque scene, especially with the natural landscape decked out in its autumn gold, reds and oranges. It looks like it's a cool program, and I now know why the signs are posted -- so fellow citizens know the area is protected and don't start mowing things down, or letting a herd of hungry goats out to graze the area.

But the way that last line about the 'No Haying/Grazing/Rutting' is written makes me giggle a little when I envision not people, but the many deer this fall who will no doubt happen by that same area. And, despite the DNR program and signs, I'm guessing that while deer and other native wildlife probably won't 'hay' the area, they might indulge in a little grazing and/or rutting. I'm not sure how the DNR's program or its signs plan to prohibit that...