Natural History

Vanishing Tall-grass Prairies. Tall-grass Prairies are remnant communities from drier geologic periods when the mid-western prairies fingered eastward as far as Ohio. They retreated westward when more moisture-laden times returned — leaving grassland islands behind. When people of European descent settled Ohio in the early 1800’s, tall- grass prairies were found primarily in west-central Ohio. It is extremely rare to find a tall-grass prairie in southern Ohio, and Plum Run Prairie may be the largest to exist in Ohio’s Appalachian counties, indeed even one of the largest left in the entire state.

Preserving Ohio prairies is extremely important. The genetic dance in the Eastern continent between the native prairie and the native hardwood forest is an ancient climate-driven duet that cannot continue unless the species of both dance partners are guaranteed a place of refuge. Because tall-grass prairies build up rich soils, agricultural pressures have permanently destroyed nearly all of the original prairie lands, making North America’s tall-grass prairies the most imperiled of our country’s primary ecosystems — much more so than even our native forests. Once a prairie soil is disturbed with a plow, it rarely comes back on its own. Both tall-grass and short-grass prairies, the latter even rarer in the East, are extremely diverse in plant and animal species — with numbers rivaling that of the deciduous forest. To save Ohio’s rainbow of biodiversity, there is no act more productive than to save a prairie.

 

View looking across Plum Rum Prairie