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Author Topic: How much of the US prairies still exist?  (Read 1372 times)

Offline P-Kasso2

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How much of the US prairies still exist?
« on: 24 September, 2015, 04:20:24 PM »
I'm thinking in percentage terms. We were talking last night and someone said that (compared to WMD's) the real weapon of mass detruction has been the plough.

But we didn't have any comparative facts. So...

Compared to when America was first colonised in the 1500s, what percentage of the original uncultivated prairie still exists?
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imfeduptoo

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Re: How much of the US prairies still exist?
« Reply #1 on: 09 October, 2015, 10:43:23 AM »
I'm not sure if this completely answers your question - there's a terrific amount to read inthe link.

Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)
"Only one-tenth of 1 percent of the original tallgrass prairie remains. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR in 1999 with the goal of one day preserving 77,000 acres of native prairie and buffer lands at widespread locations within the historic range of the northern tallgrass region of Minnesota and northwest Iowa.

The refuge is currently over 5,200 acres in size and includes easement and fee title tracts in Minnesota and Iowa.

The wetland and northern tallgrass prairie habitats within the refuge are important habitats for a large number of migratory birds including songbirds, marsh and wading birds, waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and upland gamebirds.

Approximately 243 species of birds are known to regularly use the refuge at some time during the year, and 152 species use refuge habitats for breeding."

http://www.fws.gov/midwest/planning/northerntallgrass/



Offline P-Kasso2

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Re: How much of the US prairies still exist?
« Reply #2 on: 09 October, 2015, 12:35:29 PM »
Very interesting link!

I haven't had time to read it all yet but your answer has already been very useful for two quite separate reasons.

Firstly, thank you for giving me this handy new phrase "The Tallgrass Prairie".

"Tallgrass" is an important definition because (until five minutes ago) I'd always thought a prairie was a prairie was a prairie. Now I know that a "tallgrass" prairie is clearly quite distinct from ordinary open land prairie and that really helps me with any future thinking.

Now for the nitty gritty. Your quote states that only "one-tenth of 1 percent of the original tallgrass prairie remains" and that there's only 5,200 acres left.

In other words, only the merest one thousandth part of the tallgrass prairie still remains. I'm shocked because that means that a massively larger percentage of the prairie has disappeared under the plough than I'd ever have dreamed possible.

A thousand times 5,200 acres adds up to the prairies originally stretching over a hefty 5.2 million acres and this is where it gets really interesting. At least, it does to me.

5.2 million acres equals an area covering 670,000 square miles.

And what this means is that once upon a time the prairies equalled an area somewhere in size between the size of present-day Peru (496,225 sq miles) and the size of Mexico (758,449 square miles). Coming nearer to home, the prairie's original size would have equalled the area seven times greater than the size of the United Kingdom.

Imagine that!

Seven Britains. And all under mile after mile of undulating tall grass dotted with countless herds of buffalo being chased by peace-loving Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanches, Kiowas and Crees. And all of them being hunted to extinction by bloodthirsty European soldiers and wannabe colonists.

I think it's about time Tony Blair apologised to the Indians.


(All details on the relative areas of countries taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_dependencies_by_area)


« Last Edit: 09 October, 2015, 01:04:24 PM by P-Kasso2 »
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