Forgotten Landscapes
July 3, 2019 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Bringing Back the Rich Grasslands of the Southeast

Native prairie and savanna once covered vast areas of the U.S. Southeast from Maryland to Texas, but agriculture and sprawl have left only small patches remaining. Now, a new initiative, driven by scientists and local communities, is pushing to restore these imperiled grassland habitats.

posted by poffin boffin (7 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I'm from Manitoba and I often think of the plant communities that came before wheat, tall grass prairie with enormous root systems that were "busted" for agriculture. The Manitoba Museum has a preserved specimen of one of those grasses showing that the roots went twice as deep and wide as the above-ground portion. There's a preserve in SE Manitoba.

I sent your link along to my partner, whose academic interests are adjacent (marshy and swampy.) Thanks for posting!
posted by Lawn Beaver at 10:53 AM on July 3, 2019 [5 favorites]

Pararie Restoration
posted by The Whelk at 11:53 AM on July 3, 2019

Several mentions of bison but only an oblique reference to indigenous peoples? It's a good article about a fascinating subject, but that's a terrible omission.

It's well understood that indigenous groups in North America were very active in using fire to modify the ecology of the continent, creating and maintaining the types of habitats for agriculture and hunting that suited them.

The extent of this activity and it's relation to climate and other factors is an area of ongoing research, but the general idea is not contentious and shouldn't go completely unmentioned in an article like this.
posted by theory at 12:00 PM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

I've worked with a geomorphologist who studies the way agriculture degrades topsoil. Some of the historical pictures of the southern US he dug up for his book are terrifying.
posted by bq at 12:09 PM on July 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

I am used to Midwestern prairies and had no idea about the extent of grasslands southeast of here. Lovely photos and useful history in the article.

My project this year has been to transform a big chunk of my large, urban yard into a native grass and wildflower meadow, and I have scoured the internet for photos and advice. It’s hard to find homeowner-oriented info and nearly impossible to find progress pics. Projects like these are multi-year endeavors, and I can’t wait to see what happens in year two, three, and beyond.
posted by Maarika at 1:09 PM on July 3, 2019 [5 favorites]

bq, Georgia even has its own "Grand Canyon" as a result of agricultural erosion. The longleaf pine's current endangered status is another example, pushed there by clear cutting and suppressing the fires (both natural and Indigenous managed) it relied on to thrive.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:05 AM on July 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

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