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As a park ranger, Chad Graeve educates the public on working landscapes every day. Hear his take on maintaining working landscapes such as the Loess Hills.


Transcript for Prairie Burns

Historically, this landscape was a grassland system and at the time of settlement it was predominantly native prairie. Occasionally you would have found scattered burr oak trees. And this was a system that was maintained by the local climate and also by influencing factors like fire and grazing by bison and elk. And when Euro-American settlers moved into the area they took fire off the land. They took bison and elk off the land and really upset the balance. Today we have a system that's dominated not by grasslands but by eastern deciduous woodland that's a very species-poor community. It's a very young community. It's a result of fire suppression. And if we're going to manage for increased biological integrity and try to put the biodiversity back together, we need to put those components back. And one of the most important components was fire. And so we use prescribed fire to try to restore that balance. We're using other techniques as well.