Prairies Mini Journal

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Model: MJ-29
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Prairies are grasslands with rolling terrain and few trees due to little rainfall. There are grasslands on every continent, but the term “prairie” typically refers to the grasslands of North America. At one time the North American prairie covered 433 million acres, but today only about 1-2 percent of the original prairie still exists. A strong movement has been started to educate people about prairies, and many states are now rehabilitating the prairies that are left.

The prairie is home to a diverse amount of plants and wildlife. The grasses develop deep root systems which retain moisture, thus preventing soil erosion and easily surviving periods of drought. Several types of medicinal plants, such as Echinacea, thrive, and Monarch butterflies are attracted to the many species of Milkweed plants. Recently there has been a strong interest in prairie grasses for use in making bio-fuels.

While large, hoofed, grazing animals such as Bison roam the prairies, many smaller animals, such as the prairie dog, burrow underneath it. The combination of the impact on the ground from the hoofed animals with the burrowing of smaller animals keeps the soil healthy by distributing nutrients and water. In addition, hawks, owls, coyotes, and black-footed ferrets make the prairie their home.

artwork by Amelia Hansen ©2010
text by Anne Trawick