Tallgrass prairie once covered 30 million acres in Iowa. That’s approximately 80 percent of the state. Grasses, like big bluestem and Indian grass reached heights of 10 feet, and over 200 species of wildflowers dazzled the eye. This ecosystem was home to hundreds of species of wildlife, including buffalo, elk, black bear, and wolves.
Settlers quickly realized the soils produced by the tallgrass prairie were extremely fertile and were excellent for growing crops. In less than 100 years, the prairies of Iowa all but disappeared to give us the agriculture state of today. Because of this, only 1/10 of 1% of the native prairie survives in small plots scattered throughout the state.
Visit Sandhill Prairie located at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt for a good representation of what used to cover most of the state of Iowa.
- www.tallgrass.org This site describes the national wildlife refuge located near Prairie City, Iowa. It describes ways you can get involved, has additional links, and kids stuff.