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Little love left on the prairie

Elsewhere, the General Land Office has gotten into real estate speculation, destroying rare habitats for profit. For instance, in discussions regarding coastal wind farms, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson dismisses grave neo-tropical bird migration concerns with "This is Texas. We don't have Walter Cronkite and Ted Kennedy whining about their back yards."

Has anybody else noticed that Texans disregard the land that makes up our very state?

Dating all the way back to the days when we took the land from Indian people, a percentage of us have worked tirelessly to convert wild lands into cash, kill off the wildlife and trash the environment.

Our land's story – originally written in grass and rivers, from the prairies to the coasts to the Piney Woods to our deserts, plateaus and mountains – is now one of a damaged, emptied habitat: plowed, mined, overgrazed, paved, fragmented, dammed.

Few people know that Texas had more buffalo than the Northern Plains. We have only 56 left from the Great Southern Herd, cramped inside a 330-acre fenced pasture in Caprock Canyons and quickly losing their ancestral herd behavior.

Few people know of the Eskimo Curlew, or the legendary Passenger Pigeon, a sleek wild blue native American dove, both once so numerous that their flocks blocked out Texas skies for hours or days in passing. Now both are extinct.

And consider this: Many people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area don't even know we live on the prairie.

Last year, my organization, the Great Plains... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Has anybody else noticed that Texans disregard the land that makes up our very state?

Dating all the way back to the days when we took the land from Indian people, a percentage of us have worked tirelessly to convert wild lands into cash, kill off the wildlife and trash the environment.

Our land's story – originally written in grass and rivers, from the prairies to the coasts to the Piney Woods to our deserts, plateaus and mountains – is now one of a damaged, emptied habitat: plowed, mined, overgrazed, paved, fragmented, dammed.

Few people know that Texas had more buffalo than the Northern Plains. We have only 56 left from the Great Southern Herd, cramped inside a 330-acre fenced pasture in Caprock Canyons and quickly losing their ancestral herd behavior.

Few people know of the Eskimo Curlew, or the legendary Passenger Pigeon, a sleek wild blue native American dove, both once so numerous that their flocks blocked out Texas skies for hours or days in passing. Now both are extinct.

And consider this: Many people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area don't even know we live on the prairie.

Last year, my organization, the Great Plains Restoration Council, had a multimillion dollar offer from a private donor to split the cost with the state of acquiring and protecting a 21,653-acre High Plains ranch to serve as a new reserve for endangered Texas buffalo. The state, which coincidentally ranks near the bottom nationally for funding state parks, dropped the ball on its share.

Elsewhere, the General Land Office has gotten into real estate speculation, destroying rare habitats for profit. For instance, in discussions regarding coastal wind farms, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson dismisses grave neo-tropical bird migration concerns with "This is Texas. We don't have Walter Cronkite and Ted Kennedy whining about their back yards."

Meanwhile, pollution laws are being further weakened, 17 new coal plants are planned, and children increasingly suffer from asthma and other air quality-related diseases. Then there's "nature-deficit disorder" – with scientists finding children's growth and resistance to illness being damaged by lack of interaction with nature.

Once-lush Grand Prairie is now the Grand Concrete. Similarly, the 1.3 million-acre Fort Worth Prairie is now down to some 40,000 virgin acres, with bulldozers and developers roaring around the clock. In southwest Fort Worth, the General Land Office has its sights trained on a 1,983-acre virgin prairie jewel, which holds the sweep and space of sky and wildlife experience that you'd think only exists hundreds of miles away in a national park.

Biologists say this prairie, because of careful management by TCU, is home to some rare plant communities. This property also holds profound historical significance for American Indian, Anglo and black cultures. It is strategically located to jump-start a world-class public/private conservation effort that could give North Texas an urban prairie wilderness of 10,000 to 20,000 acres.

Texas needs a new environmental movement that will take a leading role in protecting our earth and children's health. The two are absolutely interrelated. Each action we take has repercussions for hundreds of generations.

As Texas rapidly grows, local governments are preparing for mega-cities and mega-regions. Texas must also plan for mega-wild lands, where public and private entities work across the landscapes to ensure ecosystems and wildlife are restored, protected and connected through a system of core reserves and habitat linkages. All ecological processes from water to soil to air to wildlife migrations – the sacred underpinnings of life – must be allowed to flourish vital and whole.

The Great Plains Restoration Council is developing an ecological health curriculum that will be available to local schools to help young people learn in the outdoors the biological integrity and interconnectedness of life on earth, in a reawakened sense of proud identity, specifically rooted to where we live. Texans must act now to protect our endangered prairies and lead a new culture of caring and personal responsibility.

Jarid Manos is executive director

of Great Plains Restoration Council. His first book,"Ghetto Plainsman,"

will be published by Temba House Press in early 2007. His e-mail address is greatplains@gprc.org.

The Great Plains Restoration Council plans a public tour of the proposed Fort Worth Prairie Park at 6:15 p.m. today, starting at 10700 Old Granbury Road,about one mile north of FM 1187 (FW Mapsco 102K). For more information on the Great Plains Restoration Council, go to www.gprc.org. For more information on the Fort Worth Prairie Park, go to www.fortworthprairiepark.org.

 


Source: http://www.dallasnews.com/s...

JUL 24 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3626-little-love-left-on-the-prairie
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