Vast grasslands once covered much of North America. Settlement, agriculture, and development have reduced prairie habitats to a patchwork of isolated grasslands in a sea of croplands, roads, and cities. Loss of these grasslands is detrimental to people as well as to wildlife.
Grasslands help reduce soil erosion caused by wind and water. They also filter chemicals, thus protecting our water supplies. Vegetation, such as grass, forbs, and shrubs, helps trap snow and rain. This allows a more regulated flow of precipitation to seep into the ground, recharging water supplies.
To help protect the remaining prairie habitats, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has an active grassland easement program. This program provides financial incentive to voluntary private landowners who permanently keep their land as grassland. Most of this land is currently used for livestock grazing and many landowners feel the prairie should remain as grazing land for future generations. Since grazing is not restricted in any way, many ranchers and farmers benefit from the added income without disrupting their livestock operation.
Many wildlife species depend on grasslands for food, cover, and nesting sites. Protecting these grasslands ensures that wildlife will be there for future generations to enjoy. If you are interested in a grassland easement, please contact the Arrowwood WMD.
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