The Prairie Builders: Reconstructing America's Lost Grasslands is the account of the effort to bring back part of Iowa's tallgrass prairie. At one time, prairie covered 400, 000 square miles of the country in central states from Minnesota to Texas, supporting various plant and animals species. Hundreds of kids of butterflies and other insects made their homes there, while the grasses fed elk, deer, and millions of buffalo. When Europeans first saw the prairie, they called it "The Great American Desert"; by the mid-1800s, America and had turned most of it into farmland.
In 1992, corn and soybean fields were plowed to begin the construction of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Though no one knew for certain whether creation of a new tallgrass prairie was possible or wise, biologist Pauline Drobney and many volunteers began the ongoing process of bringing back plants and animals that were once native to the area. Among the steps necessary to replenish the prairie are locating and collecting seeds of native plants, managing controlled burns, and reintroducing bison and the Regal Fritillary butterfly. Each of these steps helps the prairie rebuild and gives readers a better understanding of this vanishing ecosystem and the complex efforts to save it.
Pleasing color photographs, suggested readings, and an index round out this fascinating book. It's not for everyone, but children concerned with conservation, and those in the Midwest, will enjoy this the most.