This article talks of restoring prairies to an earlier state, but if the concepts summarized in Charles C. Mann’s book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus are even within shouting distance of reality, the “native prairie” being pursued by some represents a fleeting moment in time created by the destruction of a civilization and the total collapse of its agricultural support system. The “pristine” environment concept, both in the prairies and in the rainforests, may well be wrong.

Lon Crosby
Webster City, Iowa

Most researchers acknowledge that restoring a prairie to a state free of human intervention is impossible. The prairie landscape itself was created by fire and grazing, processes that Native Americans manipulated. Understanding how that landscape was maintained is an active area of study and re-implementing those processes is a cornerstone of prairie restoration. —Leslie Allen