Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9 (Fall 1999. Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


A great deal has been made of the dire circumstances facing imperiled tallgrass ecosystems in the future-and with good reason. With more than 98 percent of all tallgrass and tallgrass savanna already converted to cultivated farmland and other nearly irreversible land uses, tallgrass ecosystems now teeter on the brink of total collapse. Into this bleak condition leap the authors of Valley of Grass: Tallgrass Prairie and Parkland of the Red River Valley Region. Remarkably, they strike a refreshingly non-confrontational, almost optimistic posture. Their thesis? That the restoration and rehabilitation of the tallgrass prairie and the continued use of its natural resources need not be in conflict but, instead, may be complementary. While this premise perhaps seems overly idealistic, such a view of contemporary and future land use may be essential, if only because of the complicated political, economic, and social realities at play regarding the tallgrass of the Northern Plains.