Human Threats/Health Concerns:

    No other habitat is as agriculturally useful to humans as grasslands. Soils tend to be deep and fertile, perfect for cropland or pastures. Much of the North American prairie lands have been converted into one of the richest agricultural regions on Earth. Fires, both natural and human-caused, are important in maintaining grasslands. Ancient hunting peoples set regular fires to maintain and extend grasslands, and prevent fire-intolerant trees and shrubs from taking over. Grasses are able to survive fires because they grow from the bottom instead of the top.


Burning Grassland


    * Continued global warming could turn current marginal grasslands into deserts as rainfall patterns change.
    * Land once incompatible with row-crop agriculture, but which provided a living to ranching families and habitat for prairie wildlife, is being          converted to row crops.
    * Development of urban areas is increasingly cutting into grassland habitat.
    * Drought-hardy, cold-resistant, and herbicide-tolerant varieties of soybeans, wheat, and corn allow crops to expand into native grassland.
    * Where only one crop is grown, pests and disease can spread easily, creating the need for potentially toxic pesticides


    * Continue education efforts on how to protect the soil and prevent soil erosion.
    * Protect and restore wetlands, which are an important part of grassland ecology.
    * Rotate agricultural crops to prevent the sapping of nutrients.
    * Plant trees as windbreaks.
    * Conduct dry season burning to obtain fresh growth and to restore calcium to the soil that builds up in the dry grasses.