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Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics,and Promise of the American Prairie

Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics,and Promise of the American Prairie

by Richard Manning

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Our culture's disrespect for grasslands has produced an environmental catastrophe, charges the author. By allowing overgrazing on public lands, our government is wiping out an ecosystem as vital as the Brazilian rain forests. In this sweeping exploration of the prairie, Manning (A Good House) makes an eloquent plea to restore it. Cattle, loss of habitat, fragmentation, climate change and invasion of exotic species have wrought severe damage. Manning takes us from Ted Turner's bison ranch in Montana to Wes Jackson's Land Institute in Kansas; from the Sandos ranch in Nebraska to the Walnut Creek Preserve in Iowa, which is being restored to native tall-grass prairie. Any restoration, he stresses, must include bison. The author urges that we change grazing practices, arguing that ideally there would be bison grazing on open ranges, with cattle as a second choice-but only on large tracts. He states that we need to match agriculture to conditions, instead of remaking the conditions. A thoughtful and provocative look at prairie ecology. (Sept.)
The author, an award-winning journalist and nature writer, looks at the grasslands of the American West and Midwest, tracing the region from pre-history to the present. He discusses attempts to control the land and efforts to restore native grasses and wild herds of buffalo, and visits Ted Turner's progressive and controversial Montana ranch. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Brenda Grazis
Manning vividly depicts the most catastrophic environmental disaster in our history--the devastation of North American grassland--in a fascinating narrative of the successive assaults by imported livestock, yeoman farmers, monoculture, corporate farming, and exotic grasses that have irrevocably degraded a once exquisitely balanced biome. Fifty million bison, which thrived year-round solely on prairie grasses, were slaughtered and gradually replaced by 45.5 million head of climatically unsuited cattle that now consume 70 percent of U.S. grain production, thereby necessitating the dedication of vast acreages to cattle fodder. Among the consequences of this agricultural system are soil erosion, pesticide and fertilizer pollution, aquifer depletion, and the loss of biodiversity", and Manning provides disturbing statistics that gauge their magnitude. Further, he assesses the culpability of governmental agencies abetting factional interests and discusses current efforts, notably on the Ted Turner ranch, to reinstate the bison, and by the Nature Conservancy to reestablish and preserve native grassland tracts.

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Viking Penguin
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.12(d)

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