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Pledge to Preserve Critical Prairie Habitat

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Take a pledge to #ProtectThePrairies and safeguard our natural heritage for generations to come.

The grassland prairies of North America, once thriving with life, are vanishing at an alarming rate1. These unique habitats, characterized by vast stretches of grasses, wildflowers, and diverse wildlife, are facing rapid decline. It is crucial to recognize the vital role grassland prairies play in supporting wildlife populations and understand the potential consequences if they were to disappear completely.

Why Grassland Prairies Matter for Wildlife

Grassland prairies provide a vital habitat for numerous species of wildlife. They are biodiversity hotspots, home to a diverse array of flora and fauna2. Iconic grassland birds like the greater prairie chicken and the bobolink, along with swift foxes and pronghorns, thrive in these habitats2. Grassland prairies offer ample foraging opportunities, nesting sites, and protection for these wildlife populations3.

For many bird species, grassland prairies are critical nesting and breeding grounds. Open spaces, tall grasses, and an abundance of insects provide essential resources for successful reproduction3. However, the loss of grassland prairies threatens the reproductive success of these bird species, leading to population declines and ecological imbalances.

Grassland prairies also serve as vital stopover points for migratory birds during their long journeys4. These expansive landscapes provide essential resources such as food, water, and shelter for exhausted birds, ensuring their survival during migration. The disappearance of grassland prairies disrupts these critical migration pathways, endangering the survival of many bird species that rely on them5.

Moreover, grassland prairies are home to keystone species like prairie dogs and bison. Prairie dogs' burrowing behavior creates habitat for numerous other species, while bison's grazing patterns shape the prairie landscape and influence plant growth, affecting the entire ecosystem6.

Threats to Grassland Prairies

Grassland prairies face numerous threats that contribute to their rapid decline. Conversion for agriculture and urbanization has resulted in the destruction and degradation of critical prairie ecosystems7. Habitat fragmentation, caused by human activities like road construction, isolates pockets of habitat, hinders wildlife movement, and increases vulnerability to extinction8. Invasive species and altered fire regimes disrupt the natural balance and composition of the ecosystem. Climate change, with increased temperatures and altered precipitation patterns, further exacerbates the threats faced by grassland prairies9.

Consequences of Prairie Disappearance

If grassland prairies continue to disappear, the consequences for wildlife and ecosystems would be far-reaching. The loss of countless species that rely on this habitat for survival would lead to a significant decline in biodiversity10. Iconic grassland species like the greater prairie chicken11, burrowing owls12, and swift foxes13 face heightened risks of decline or even extinction. The disappearance of prairies would also disrupt essential ecosystem services, impacting water quality, climate regulation, and the sustainable livelihoods of communities. Additionally, the cultural and historical significance of grassland prairies would be lost, eroding our understanding of the past and diminishing our collective heritage14.

Join the Fight to Protect the Grassland Prairies

Preserving the grassland prairies of North America is crucial for the well-being of wildlife, ecosystems, and our shared planet. By valuing and protecting these habitats, we honor our natural heritage and safeguard the intricate web of life that depends on their existence. Join us in the mission to preserve and restore these vanishing treasures for future generations to cherish and appreciate.

Take action now to protect the disappearing grassland prairies of North America. Together, we can make a difference and ensure a sustainable future for these vital ecosystems. Click below to learn how you can contribute!

More on this issue:

  1. Katharine Gammon, The Guardian (5 November 2021), "America’s native grasslands are disappearing."
  2. J. Bengtsson, J. M. Bullock, B. Egoh, C. Everson, T. Everson, T. O'Connor, P. J. O'Farrell, H. G. Smith, R. Lindborg, Ecosphere (7 February 2019), "Grasslands—more important for ecosystem services than you might think."
  3. Angela Dwyer, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (4 December 2015), "Grassland birds and Grazers."
  4. Jeffrey P. Tash, Eric Stiles and Lee Widjeskog, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, "Managing stopover habitat for migratory birds."
  5. Janet Pesaturo, Winterberry Wildlife (19 November 2020), "Prairie Dogs as Keystone Species."
  6. Grassland Heritage Foundation (2022), "Threats to the Prairie."
  7. Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, "Roadside Use of Native Plants."
  8. Prabhat Kumar Raia and J.S. Singh, Ecological indicator (April 2020), "Invasive alien plant species: Their impact on environment, ecosystem services and human health."
  9. USDA FS Climate Change Resource Center, "Grasslands and Climate Change."
  10. Gerardo Ceballos , Ana Davidson, Rurik List, Jesús Pacheco, Patricia Manzano-Fischer, Georgina Santos-Barrera, and Juan Cruzado, PLoS One (2010), "Rapid Decline of a Grassland System and Its Ecological and Conservation Implications."
  11. Sam Crowe, BirdZilla (22 March 2023), "Greater Prairie-Chicken."
  12. All About Birds, The Cornell Lab, "Burrowing Owl."
  13. COSEWIC - Committee On The Status Of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (2000), "Swift Fox."
  14. Grassland Groupies (2023), "North American Prairie."
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The Pledge:

I pledge to take action and do my part in protecting the disappearing grasslands of North America. These vital habitats are home to diverse wildlife, provide essential ecosystem services, and contribute to the health of our planet. By pledging to support the preservation of grasslands, I commit to the following actions:

  1. Raise Awareness: I will educate myself and others about the importance of grassland ecosystems, their biodiversity, and the threats they face. I will share information through social media, conversations, and community events to raise awareness.
  2. Advocate for Policy Change: I will engage in advocacy efforts by writing letters, signing petitions, or contacting elected officials to promote policies that protect and restore grasslands. I will support legislation that encourages sustainable land use and conservation practices.
  3. Practice Sustainable Land Use: If I own or manage land with grassland potential, I will adopt sustainable land use practices such as rotational grazing, native plant restoration, and responsible agricultural techniques that minimize habitat destruction and soil degradation.
  4. Promote Native Plants: In my garden or landscaping, I will prioritize planting native grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs that support local pollinators and provide habitat for grassland-dependent species.
  5. Reduce Pesticide Use: I will minimize or eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides in my yard, garden, or agricultural practices. I will explore organic and environmentally friendly alternatives to protect biodiversity.
  6. Support Sustainable Agriculture: I will prioritize purchasing food and products from sustainable agricultural practices that avoid the conversion of grasslands into farmland. I will look for labels such as "grass-fed," "regenerative," or "certified sustainable."
  7. Practice Responsible Recreation: When visiting grassland areas for recreational activities, I will follow designated trails, respect wildlife and their habitats, and adhere to leave-no-trace principles. I will avoid off-road driving or any activities that may cause habitat destruction.
  8. Volunteer for Habitat Restoration: I will participate in volunteer programs or community projects focused on grassland restoration and habitat improvement. By dedicating my time, I will actively contribute to the preservation and recovery of these ecosystems.
  9. Reduce Carbon Footprint: I will make conscious choices to reduce my carbon footprint by conserving energy, using public transportation, cycling, or walking whenever possible. By minimizing my impact on the environment, I help mitigate climate change, which threatens grassland habitats.
  10. Inspire Others: I will inspire friends, family, and my community to join me in taking action to protect grassland ecosystems. I will lead by example, share success stories, and encourage others to make their own pledges to support the preservation of North American grasslands.

Preserving grassland habitats helps conserve biodiversity, maintain essential ecosystem services such as water filtration and carbon sequestration, and safeguards the cultural and historical significance of these landscapes. By taking these actions, we ensure a healthier, more sustainable future for humans, wildlife, and our environment. Together, we can make a difference and secure the survival of these critical habitats for future generations.

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