Searching for the Prairie of c. 1800

30 Nov

Katie Kramon, a summer intern at the American Prairie Reserve, reflects on what she learned about the American prairie of the Middle West around the time of the Corps of Discovery:

A highlight of my time here was the chance to visit the reserve, about five hours northeast of Bozeman—closest to Malta, Montana. Its bison herd—now 270 strong, was a sight to behold, and the landscape was inspiring to say the least. Comparing what we see today, however, to what I envisioned when reading the Journals of Lewis and Clark, was a melancholy endeavor. The bison herd has quite a bit of growing to do before it reaches the 10,000-strong former herds, inspiring quotes like that of June 13, 1805: “From the extremity of this roling country I overlooked a most beatifull and level plain of great extent or at least 50 or sixty miles; in this there were infinitely more buffaloe than I had ever before witnessed at a view…” 

Pronghorn antelope run along fences—unable to hop them or slip under the barbed wire at the bottom. Wolves and grizzlies abandoned the landscape years ago without enough protein left to sustain them. The prairie remains a beautiful landscape, but much weakened by the past 200 years of trauma. APR has an incredible task at its hands, but with time, it can save what was once one of the most biodiverse landscapes in America.

Read Kramon’s entire post at the Bill Lane Center for the American West here:

Americans’ Last Frontier | The Bill Lane Center for the American West.


One Response to “Searching for the Prairie of c. 1800”

  1. Douglas Firth Anderson November 30, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    Reblogged this on Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies.

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