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

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  •  Depopulation has nothing to do with Global (9+ / 0-)

    Warming in this case. I live in the Flint Hills (Manhattan, KS) and grew up on a farm in Eastern Nebraska. The reason there is still undisturbed prairie here is because the shallow porous bedrock drains away moisture so readily. When July comes everything not irrigated dries out and the irrigation can only keep up on the richer bottom land. Farmers couldn't make a go of it 100 years ago and they cannot today either. That is why the Flint hills were never developed agriculturally. The native plants have adapted with perennial deep rooted growth.

    As for fewer people living here now, that has been going on since rural out-migration started when tractors were invented. Eighty acres used to be so much that a large family was barely able to manage it. Now, if a farmer doesn't have at least a thousand acres of good farmland to till (approx. 30 inches of rain annually and decent soil), they won't make enough money to survive.

    This is rather personal to me because I can take you through a quick tour of my old haunts and show you field after field that used to have a farmstead, school or church on it.

    Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely - Lord Acton

    by Shishkabugs on Tue Jan 05, 2010 at 08:25:15 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  I Know - (5+ / 0-)

      I worked in Pawnee City.
      Like so many other county seats, the stores on the square stand empty.
      The smaller communities in the county are barely hanging on.

      Which baffles me.
      I guess the combination of income and the allure of Omaha and K.C. were just too much.  But many of these communities had excellent schools, everything within walking distance, lovely city and county parks, low cost of living. Very environmentally sustainable. Human-scaled, too.

    •  PS - (3+ / 0-)

      I interviewed an old farmer in the 1990s who was the last person to use mules in the county. He said he would look out and see all his neighbors on tractors. They would wave at him like he was a crazy old coot. Eventually he gave in and bought a tractor.

      He told me then, "Of course, a tractor costs a lot more than a mule - so you have to farm more acres to afford it." Which is one of the core issues of depopulation.

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