To the uninitiated, a prairie may look like “just a lot of grass”. Slow down and take some time to really look, and you will see that the prairie is an incredibly diverse and lovely place. During the spring and summer, wildflowers such as prairie smoke (pictured at left), lupine, and purple coneflower, can be found amongst grasses such as rough fescue, western wheatgrass, green needlegrass, and blue grama. Shrub species such as snowberry and prairie sagewort also occur. Unfortunately, the northern mixed-grass prairie is one of the most disturbed grassland systems, with an estimated 75% of the region having been heavily altered. Historically, the northern mixed-grass prairie system stretched from northern Nebraska into southern Canada and westward through the Dakotas to the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana; now it only covers approximately 104,000 square miles.