Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tallgrass Prairie Seed Collecting at Homestead National Monument of America

In order to connect with nature one must interact with nature…

The tallgrass prairie was once a vast ocean of grasses, flowers, animals and insects. This tallgrass prairie was the dominant landscape covering over 240 million acres of the North American Great Plains before 1820. By 1900, this dominant landscape was slowly turning to farmland and the once vast prairie was left to scattered remnants. Today, less than two percent of the original 240 million acres of the tallgrass prairie remain.

Homestead National Monument of America contains 100 acres of this special prairie land, but not without effort. The monument was created in 1936. The prairie had already been transformed from its original state and needed restoration. The goal was to not only restore the prairie, but to recreate the view of what Daniel and Agnes Freeman saw when they made their homestead claim. The tallgrass prairie at Homestead National Monument of America is the oldest restored tallgrass prairie in the National Park Service and the second oldest in the nation.

The restoration, although spanning over 60 years, is still ongoing. The management needed to keep the prairie healthy is the work of its stewards. Hands-on stewardship aids in the appreciation and respect for ecosystems that are disappearing. From controlled burns, thicket and exotic plant removal, to native seed harvest, it is with this help the prairie will survive.

Homestead National Monument of America has been harvesting native plant seeds each weekend in October. Children, parents, grandparents and friends have all waded into the prairie to pick and gather seed from grasses and flowers to support the future of this special place.

To stand within the prairie, among grasses and flowers that stare you in the eye is a unique feeling. One can’t help but think of the pioneers that traveled through this mysterious and wondrous ecosystem. The awe that its vastness one inspired is truly imaginable when harvesting seed.

 Southeast Community College students assisting with seed collection.

1 comment:

Claire said...

I'd love to hear more about how you collect native seed. We are doing similar work in Colorado. I'm at