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8/16/2004

Ecology

Ellsworth County is cattle country. The prairie grass is a perfect mixture of tall grasses (like Big Bluestem, Indian Grass & Switchgrass), mid-grasses ( Little Bluestem is the dominant species), and short grasses ( Buffalograss, and the gramagrasses). The Smoky Hill run through a geologic formation called Dakota Sandstone that is abundant with spring water and provides a scenic setting that can instantly transport the viewer to an era nearly forgotten.  
Once the great buffalo herds roamed these hills passing like a great invasion, leaving the land desolate and empty. When surveyors of the famous Butterfield Overland Despatch camped at the location that would someday be Ellsworth, Kansas. They noted that the land looked as if it had been plowed from the great numbers of buffalo hooves that had churned up the ground. The nearby stream reeked of buffalo urine.  
Sounds like an environmental disaster! But, the prairies were actually revitalized by these periodic waves of destruction. The Buffalo did not stay, but moved on to new grazing. The rest that the land enjoyed following the insatiable great herds allowed the grass to grow lush and green actually enjoying a new surge of vitality from the fresh fertilization that had received. It was all part of a great cycle of prairie ecology. Today, some ranchers have taken up rotational grazing in an effort to imitate the natural cycle that created the abundant grass of the plains.  
The boundless prairie has been fenced. The nomadic buffalo no longer roam. But, the prairie can live on as it always has with a little eye toward nature. 
So Long, 
The Cowboy 

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