"Vast seas of grass as far as the eye can see", wrote the migrants traveling west in the 1840s. Before the plowing of "America's bread basket" native grassland prairies made up more than 500 million acres in the central region of the U.S. and Canada. Today about one-fifth of these prairies remain. Wyoming is unique with more than half of its area covered by sagebrush and grassland prairie. Large sheep and cattle ranches dot the countryside. Free-ranging livestock need large expanses of grassland prairies, so the prairies have been spared.
There is more than grass and sagebrush out here! The prairie also provides crucial habitat for many wild critters. Occasional conflicts between ranchers and prairie wildlife do occur. Without these large expanses of native prairie, antelope, sage grouse, ferruginous hawks and many other species of wildlife could not survive. A western culture has evolved around the native prairies, there capacity to provide food for people and wildlife, and as people who love wide-open spaces and the prairie landscapes.
Most people living on our native prairies have learned to understand and appreciate their role as stewards of the soil and water. This stewardship is essential to the well-bing of plants, wildlife and people — a relationship worth preserving for the future generations!