Since the 1800s, North Americans have historically overlooked the significance of grasslands. With centuries of farming, ranching, energy development and suburban growth, grassland protection and conservation have been pushed aside.
After decades of abandonment, fewer than 40% of North America’s 550 million acres of grasslands remain intact. In Texas, approximately only 21% of the state’s grasslands are left. In West Texas this is even lowered to only 5-10%. With the population growth, suburban development and woody encroachment, Texas loses 1-3% of its grasslands a year.
Grasslands ecological benefits include flood prevention, aquifer recharge, erosion control, soil fertilization, wildlife habitat provided, as well as storing carbon. Spanning across 115 counties, Texas is home to more than 500 rare, endangered, or threatened species, which many go unnoticed by the public.
“When the layman looks across the prairie, they just see a bunch of grass, but when someone who takes the time to learn how to identify all the grasses and wildflowers and species it embraces, it’s almost overwhelming how much is out there and how diverse that sea of grass actually is. If people could connect and learn about the ecosystem around them, they would really start seeing the beauty of the place we live in.” – Russell Martin, a Wildlife Diversity Biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
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