October 23, 2020
Blackland prairie, a sash of Texas grassland across the center of the state, running southwest from the Oklahoma border to San Antonio, is the most endangered ecosystem in the U.S., with less than 1% remaining, according to Austin environmental designer John Hart Asher in a Wildflower article. One hundred and seventy years ago, bison grazed and fertilized the prairie, and natural wildfires and controlled burns by native peoples kept the land free of trees and shrubs, allowing grasses and perennials to thrive. That ecosystem disappeared when Europeans arrived and claimed the rich land for agriculture and settlement. Today small pockets of preserved Blackland prairie are all that remain.
Encouragingly, however, reconstructed Blackland prairie landscapes are increasingly being created for urban sites, like Native Texas Park, a 15-acre prairie surrounding the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. Located on the Southern Methodist University campus, just off a busy interstate and overlooked by glass business towers, the park was designed and planted in partnership with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and completed in 2013.
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