Human Interactions:
European Settlers

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Black-eyed Susan's

When viewed from the perspective of geological time, the advancing settlers took only a moment’s pause at the edge of the prairie to consider the advantages and disadvantages of their settlement. It was a brief moment in the lifetime of an ecosystem that had developed over the last 6 to 8 thousand years. Then, with breath-taking rapidity, the people conquered an entire landscape. The Grand Prairie in Illinois was settled within 10 to 20 years between 1830 and 1850, and converted to cropland. The story was much the same throughout the entire tallgrass prairie from Kentucky to Oklahoma (Smith, 1990). Today, approximately 3% of the 240 million acres of the original tallgrass prairie are still intact (Smith, 1990), and in Illinois, only 0.01% of the original prairie remains. Prairies once existed in all but a handful of the southernmost counties of Illinois (Anderson, 1970) and had a total coverage of 22 million acres (Roberston, Tallgrass Prairie Page, Iverson, et al., 1989). Less than 2500 acres of good quality prairie exist today. That alone is reason enough to remain dedicated to the restoration of the tallgrass prairie.

"Life is short, but Art is long."


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Illinois State Museum State of Illinois IDNR Search, Last modified October 21st 2003, 07:54AM.