Saving the Great Plains Grasslands
The grasslands that make up the Great Plains are one of the most recognized landscapes on Earth, but they’re also one of the most imperiled. Stretching east from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River, the western plains include short and mixed grass prairie grasses, forbs and wildflowers, and wet sites like playas, river bottoms, and wet meadows.
Much of the Great Plains has been converted to farmland, yet, some of the world’s largest remaining and most intact grasslands exist in this region. The Sandhills grasslands of Nebraska are the second-most intact “true” prairie ecoregion in the world, behind the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe.
Diverse wildlife species, including greater and lesser prairie-chickens, scaled quail, burrowing owls, and the scissor-tailed flycatcher live alongside other grassland dependent critters like the American burying beetle, pronghorn, and the ornate box turtle.
Healthy and resilient working rangelands in the Great Plains support wildlife and power grazing economies. Working grasslands also support migratory species, grassland songbirds, and upland game hunting - all of which benefit rural economies.
A ‘Call to Action’ has emerged in the Great Plains to scale-up conservation on private lands and meet the sustainability targets that benefit both agriculture and wildlife.
In 2020, a multi-state, areawide planning initiative produced the first biome-scale framework for grassland wildlife conservation on the region’s sustainable working rangelands. This initiative features an action-based framework for 2021-2025 focused on addressing the two most severe and large-scale threats to the Great Plains biome: woodland expansion and land use conversion.
“Now is the time to come together as a community and save our prairies.”
Scott Stout, Rancher, President of the Nebraska Prescribed Fire Council, and WLFW Participant