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Mon Dec 31, 2012, 02:46 PM

Restoring US native prairies, acre by acre, yard by yard

Prior to settlement by Europeans, prairie blanketed an enormous swath of central North America, from Canada south to Texas, and from Indiana west to Colorado — nearly 600,000 square miles of grassland all told. This complex ecosystem was home to a diverse and teeming web of life, including now-tattered bison populations. Farming and development have reduced much of this iconic American landscape, particularly in the wetter eastern areas. There, tall-grass prairie, a habitat dominated by grasses that can grow eight feet high, now occupies less than 1 percent of its former range, putting it among the world’s most endangered ecosystems, according to the US National Park Service. In the central prairie zone, so called “mixed-grass” ecosystems have suffered similar losses, while in the drier, less populous West, short-grass prairies have fared better.

Government agencies and conservation groups, aided by volunteers, have undertaken numerous restoration projects across US and Canadian prairieland, some of them thousands of acres in scale. In recent years a cadre of private citizens has joined in, restoring prairie to their own properties, from city yards up to 100 acres or more around rural homes and farms. In some cases they’ve re-created prairie where it never was before — on land that was originally forest or wetlands before settlers plowed it for crops.

The hub of this do-it-yourself restoration activity is Iowa, southwestern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and Minnesota, says Daryl Smith, director of the Tallgrass Prairie Center at the University of Northern Iowa. That’s probably because the region’s native prairie is so precious. Iowa’s, for instance, is down to 1/10th of 1 percent of its original extent.

Federal, state, and local programs offer financial and technical assistance, particularly for larger private projects on agricultural land. Conservation groups also offer some help. And a cottage industry of consultants, contractors, and native-plant nurseries has arisen for landowners who can’t do it all themselves. With so many players involved, no one seems to have a bird’s-eye view of just how much prairie is being restored on private land. By all accounts, however, the trend is growing, even if it may be all but impossible to quantify.

“I’ve been in this business since the early ‘70s, and there’s definitely been increasing numbers each year of prairie plantings,” Smith says. “We just haven’t kept a record of it."


http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2012/1231/Restoring-US-native-prairies-acre-by-acre-yard-by-yard?nav=87-frontpage-entryNineItem

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Reply Restoring US native prairies, acre by acre, yard by yard (Original post)
Redfairen Dec 2012 OP
AldoLeopold Dec 2012 #1
gtar100 Dec 2012 #2
DollarBillHines Dec 2012 #3

Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 02:47 PM

1. Does this include Prairie Potholes?

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 03:27 PM

2. This is really good. No one person can fix everything but this is one way individuals can contribute

to making a positive difference. This is also yet another example of how government can be utilized for good by organizing efforts and stimulating economic incentives in order to make things happen. We will never get back what previous generations so foolishly squandered through ignorance and greed but we can make things better by doing things like this restoration project.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 04:40 PM

3. The front of my property is all prairie grasses.

Done by the one-and-only John Greenlee.

Check out his gallery (some of the shots are of my property):

http://www.greenleeandassociates.com/gallery.html

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