Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The Bison, the Grassland and the Porcelanite Scoria

Near the winding rivers of bentonite clay, a million acres of native grasses undulate with the same wind that lifts the birds. Prairie dogs pop in and out of the earth at the foot of sandy beige and lavender buttes, white-banded with porcelanite scoria.

Wild horses, bison, pronghorns, elk, mule deer, prairie dogs and nearly 200 kinds of birds inhabit the land, water, and air of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This national park belongs to Little Missouri Grassland, the largest expanse of grassland in the United States, spreading across 1,033,271 acres of Midwest plains.

It’s in this kind of wide, open expanse that bison are able to survive. Grazing on gasses, sedges and woody forbs as they migrate, the bison receive better nutrients in their herbivore diets by shifting migration patterns. This also prevents grasslands from diminishing or being overgrazed.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Wetland Preservation & Restoration

Wetland preservation is crucial to maintaining biodiversity, stabilization of climate and purifying surface water. Restoration efforts by the National Park Service for the The Great Marsh wetlands are underway. The goal is to diversify the ecosystem and improve water quality through the removal of non-historic buildings, seed collection, controlled burn to restore prairie, sand replenishment to reverse erosion.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

 

The Cuyahoga River

River Fires and the Creation of the EPA

While it is still designated by the EPA as one of 43 contaminated sites in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern, we can thank the Cuyahoga River for being a catalyst for establishing the National Environmental Protection Agency (Jan 1, 1970) and Clean Water Act (1972). The river had caught of fire 13 times due to pollution, starting in 1868. It would be over 100 years before the Environmental Protection Agency would be proposed by Richard Nixon to regulate pollution.

Cuyahoga River & Cuyahoga National Park

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Bryophites and the Tallgrass Prairie

Less than 4% of tallgrass prairie remains in the US, formerly 170 million acres. In part, for that 4%, we can thank the rocky soil in Kansas that prevented early farming. Bryophytes are both heavily disturbed by strip mining, and help restore prairie altered by strip mines. These little miracle plants are amazing.

tallgrass-prairie-national-preserve

Wadena, Minnesota — Jack Pines

Jack pines cleared in Wadena for potato farming for McDonald’s french fries

12,000 acres of pine forest were purchased by a North Dakota company to convert into potato crops. The clearing of this rare Minnesota forest impacts wildlife unique to the area and creates a possible water safety issue. Potato crops typically use heavy pesticides, a potential threat to a local aquifer and drinking water source. 42 square miles of Jack Pines were cleared, an area equivalent approximately to three cities combined, before the clearing was stopped by the Minnesota DNR.

wadena-minnesota-jackpines