“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Fort Ransom in Ransom County, North Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Native Prairies / Ecosystem Under Siege

Native Prairies/Ecosystem Under Siege Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Connor Olson, June 15, 2021
1. Native Prairies/Ecosystem Under Siege Marker
Native Prairies
A carpet of grass once covered 400,000 square miles of North America-one- third of the vast region stretching from Ohio to the Rockies and from Canada to Texas. Today, native prairie is difficult to find-you are standing in one!

North American grasslands include tallgrass, midgrass, and shortgrass prairies. Tallgrass prairies are dominated by tall grasses, such as big bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, cordgrass, and a variety of wildflowers. These grasses can grow to heights of six feet, with root systems extending downward to a depth of nine feet.

Grasses, such as western wheatgrass (North Dakota's state grass), green needlegrass, porcupinegrass, needle and thread, sideoats grama, and blue grama grass dominate the midgrass prairies. These grasses grow up to two or three feet tall and are often mixed with wildflowers.

Ecosystem Under Siege
Today the tallgrass prairies are small islands in an ocean of development-less taken with North Dakota's prairies that he recorded than one percent of this ecosystem healthy prairie ecosystems supported
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vast populations of free roaming grazers, such as the North American bison. Prairies also benefited from wildfire-periodic fire rejuvenates grasslands by removing old plant residue, and by destroying encroaching trees and shrubs.

The prairie is among our most imperiled habitats nationwide. Prairies can flourish with properly managed grazing-both “over-utilization” and “under-utilization” can weaken the delicate balance.
A weakened plant community is easily overcome by invasive, non-native plants competing for valuable nutrients. One of the greatest threats to the native prairies is invasion by non-native species such as leafy spurge, smooth bromegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass.

Large herds of native grazers, such as buffalo and deer roam and browse, helping to maintain plant fertility and stimulate growth by grooming" grasses without overgrazing a small area.
Explorer and mapmaker Joseph Nicollet was so taken with North Dakota's prairies that he recorded the following in his journal:
"There is something magical in the variety of impressions one gets from healthy prairie ecosystems supported vast the sight of the prairies. One never wearies of it…

The fresh breeze that springs up from time to time, the absence of any danger close by (as one con see all around the lack of any difficulty on the route the

Sheyenne Valley image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Connor Olson, June 15, 2021
2. Sheyenne Valley
sweet verdure everywhere the flowers bedecking it, the blue of the sky, the variations of the atmosphere operating always on a grand scale all of these things combine to arouse one to free one's spirit…

In summer all is gay, laughing, gracious, and life-giving on these prairies.

Joseph Nicollet
July 8, 1839

Erected by Federal Highway Administration, Garrison Diversion Recreation Grant Valley City Food & Beverage Tax Fund and Glacial Lake Agassiz Interreach Project.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentExploration. A significant historical date for this entry is August 8, 1839.
Location. 46° 33.327′ N, 97° 56.057′ W. Marker is near Fort Ransom, North Dakota, in Ransom County. Marker can be reached from Mill Road near Walt Hjelle Parkway. Located at the Sheyenne Valley Overlook, Fort Ransom State Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5981 Walt Hjelle Pkwy, Fort Ransom ND 58033, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. An Ancient Sea / Glacial Meltwater Trench (within shouting distance of this marker); Timber Trestle Bridge (approx. 0.4 miles away); Standing Rock Lutheran Church (approx. 0.6 miles away); Pyramid Hill / Fort Ransom’s Remarkable Survival (approx. 2.3 miles away);

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Fort Ransom Historic Site (approx. 2.6 miles away); Writing Rock / Native American Legends (approx. 2.6 miles away); Historic Fort Ransom / Life at the Fort (approx. 2.6 miles away); Standing Rock Hill Historic Site (approx. 4.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Ransom.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 19, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 19, 2021, by Connor Olson of Kewaskum, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 90 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 19, 2021, by Connor Olson of Kewaskum, Wisconsin. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 6, 2023