“I can sit on the porch before my door and see miles of the most beautiful prairie interwoven with groves of timber, surpassing, in my mind, the beauties of the sea. Think of seeing a tract of land on a slight include covered with flowers and rich meadow grass for 12 to 20 miles…” – John Brooke, an early settler in the tallgrass prairies of Texas, 1849

Out of the original 20 million acres of beautiful Texas tallgrass prairie, less than 1% remains due to suburban sprawl, plowing for row-crop agriculture, and improper overgrazing during the last 150 years.

Our current generation is the last chance to save this important piece of Texas’ cultural and natural heritage, and with Texas’ high projected population growth we must act now to save these special places.

3 thoughts on “Save Texas Tallgrass Prairies”

  1. Amen. What this state needs is our own Katherine Ordway. During her lifetime, the Katherine Ordway Foundation donated about $56 million to conservation, mostly to Kansas prairie preservation. There are dozens of individuals, families, Trusts, or Foundations who could do for Texas’ vanishing habitats what Katherine Ordway did for Kansas Prairies.

  2. The tallgrass prairie IS extinct as a functioning ecosystem. What remains are but tiny living museums of a vast ecosystem that once was. No longer controlled by fire and bison, no longer populated by bison, wolves, elk, and grizzly bears, these museums are but a tiny snapshot of what used to be.

    Someday in the not too distant future, millions of acres of fire-controlled prairie will be re-established. This prairie will probably be a new and different ecosystem. Hundreds of foreign species from lowly European earthworms to exotic African blackbucks will dwell there. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll find ways to control the worst invaders, such as Johnson grass, King Ranch bluestem, and Queen Anne’s Lace. I hope so. I love the living museums of that extinct ecosystem, and I’ll do what I can to nurture them.

  3. Black and white, visible color, and false color infrared aerial photographs, as well as 30 meter Digital Elevation Models are available from the Texas Natural Resources Information System. Many native tallgrass prairies exhibit a reddish brown color on visible color images, and bright turquoise on false color infrared aerial photographs. Gilgai lows often appear a very dark shade of gray on black and white aerials. Soil Survey vector files can be converted to rasters. Analyzing these assorted rasters may help to identify possible native prairie sites over very large areas, perhaps even for an entire county at once. Candidate sites selected by raster analysis could be confirmed or deleted by field visits and interviews with knowledgeble locals.

    Today (Tuesday, October 23, 2007) I purchased a customized computer which I hope to use for Raster analysis in prairie surveys. My new machine has a 3.4 GHz dual core processor, 4 Gb of memory, and a video card with 512 Mb of memory. It has three fans to keep it cool: an intake fan, an exit fan, and a video card fan. Tomorrow I will begin to to develop and test a raster analysis methodology on this new system. I’m sure this has been tried before, but it will be fun and educational to develop my own personalized methodology. Plus, if it works, it might help me finish a county prairie survey I’ve begun.

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