Buffalo Commons

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Description:
The Buffalo Commons is a conceptual proposal to create a vast nature preserve by returning of the drier portion of the Great Plains to native prairie, and by reintroducing the buffalo, or American Bison, that once grazed the shortgrass prairie. The proposal would affect six Western States (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas), and four Midwest states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas).

History

The proposal originated with Frank J. Popper and Deborah Popper, who argued in a 1987 essayDeborah Epstein Popper and Frank J. Popper, "Great Plains: From Dust to Dust" , Planning, December 1987 (, Planning Magazine). that the current use of the drier parts of the plains is not sustainable. The authors viewed the historic European-American settlement of the Plains States as hampered by lack of understanding of the ecology and an example of the "Tragedy of the Commons".

Cause

The Poppers note that periodic disasters such as the Dust Bowl and continuing significant population loss over the last 80 years show the area is not sustainable for small-scale farming. They note that the rural Plains has lost a third of its population since 1920. Several hundred thousand square miles of the Great Plains have fewer than 6...
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