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The Flint Hills, Kansas

The prairie and plains of North America once covered about half a million square miles of the continent, stretching from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and from Northern Mexico to Southern Canada.

Since the late 19th century the Plains, often referred to as the American Serengeti, has been reduced in size by almost 50%. The tall grass prairie located along the Eastern edge of the Great Plains once covered approximately half of the prairie in North America.

Today the vast majority of the Tall Grass prairie has been lost to the plow. Making it the most endangered ecosystem in the world. The Tall Grass Prairie Preserve which once covered over 300,000 square miles has been reduced to around 17 square miles located in the Flint Hills of Kansas. These 17 square miles are the largest intact tallgrass prairie in the world.

The rocky soil created by the last glacier made the ground difficult to plow, resulting in the prevalence of cattle ranches as opposed to the crop land more typical of the Great Plains.

My fascination with the Great Plains started 4 years ago with my first visit to South Dakota. These vast prairies are considered by most to be empty, barren, boring.

“The prairie is nothing but grass like the sea is nothing but water”

PrairyErth, William Least Heart-Moon

The prairie doesn’t demand attention like the mountains, but requires a quiet attention to subtleties, the early morning on the light rolling hills, the way wind creates waves in the grass, or the play of light and shadow as the clouds move across the landscape, often no specific focal point, just a vast expanse of land and sky. It’s a glimpse back in time before the bison were hunted to near extinction and the land was converted to cropland. It’s these moments that keep drawing me back to the prairie and plains.

To see more of my work visit my Web Site at www.tomcrocephoto.com

If you would like to join me in Sept. 2021 to experience the vast Great Plains and Badlands NP , send me an e-mail or visit my web site.