Skip to main content

View Diary: Hike On! A Buffalo Commons National Park in Kansas? (161 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Check out Don Kirby's "Grasslands" (12+ / 0-)

    This beautiful book available here has exquisite black & white photographs of the prairie by Don Kirby, an extremely skilled fine art photographer.

    Moreover, the foreword by Richard Manning wonderfully summarizes the forgotten history of FDR's attempts to return the "dust bowl" to its natural state back in 1933.

    FDR's fiery populist secretary of agriculture, Henry Wallace, argued for Federal acquisition of the vast majority of the prairie grasslands, since the ecological catastrophe of the 'dust bowl' had proven them unfit for mechanized agriculture. His plan for restoration of the grasslands involved creation of a vast prairie "commons" that would remain unfenced and owned collectively by the American people. The land would not be asked to support more than it could.

    Tragically but predictably, Wallace's plan was sabotaged and castrated by entrenched ranching interests and the nascent BigAG corporate powers. The prairie lands acquired by the Federal government were mostly fenced off, with grazing rights sold to wealthy ranchers for pennies on the dollar.

    Ironically, over the last three decades, economic and social reality has been reviving Wallace's plan by default. Even with huge indirect subsidies the ranches are dying out, the population evaporating, the land reverting to open prairie as the last barbed wire fences rust away.

    In our lifetimes, the grasslands are likely to return to something much closer to their natural state.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site