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Near Quitaque in Briscoe County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Natural Disturbance-Lifeblood of the Prairies

 
 
Natural Disturbance-Lifeblood of the Prairies Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, June 7, 2022
1. Natural Disturbance-Lifeblood of the Prairies Marker
Inscription.  
(Right Panel)
Thundering Hooves
The Texas Panhandle Plains were once home to the Southern Plains Bison Herd. According to famous cattleman Charles Goodnight, this great herd never roamed farther north than the Arkansas River or south of the Wichita Mountains. It was thought to have originally been cut off from the Northern Herd by the construction of the Transcontinental railroad in the 1840s.

Fire Helps Make a Prairie
In a never ending cycle, lightning struck the prairie and periodic wildfires burnt off the woody vegetation that had grown up over time. Attracted by lush new growth, bison would move into these newly burned areas to graze. As the bison herds moved on, these grazed areas would then provide ideal habitat for an entire community of smaller wildlife species such as pronghorn antelope, lesser prairie chickens and prairie dogs. In time, brush would gradually invade the prairie again until another fire swept through the area to repeat the entire cycle.

Bison Wallows
Bison enjoy scratching against objects such as rocks,
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small trees or posts, and wallowing in the dust. During the hot summer months, bison like to roll in the mud, forming a thick coating that protects against biting insects.

Captions
Middle Left: Park personnel burn sections of prairie to simulate a natural wildfire, reduce invasion by woody vegetation, and stimulate growth of native grasses. Burns are carefully planned and monitored.
Upper Right: In the mid 19th century, members of the Texan Santa Fe expedition reported that migrating bison herds resembled "black clouds on the prairie." Millions of hooves disturbed prairie soils, encouraging growth of diverse plant species.
Lower Right: "Wallowing" is a favorite bison activity! Historically, seeds and plant materials stuck in bison coats were spread as the bison continued to migrate, wallow, and shed heavy winter hair in the spring. Disturbed soils around wallows allowed growth of weed species that provided food for other prairie animals.


(Left Panel)
Why Preserve Our Prairies?

Vanishing Ecosystem
Vast prairies once stretched for millions of acres across the central United States and were formed approximately 10,000 years ago when glaciers retreated after the last Ice age. Because of their rich soils and great agricultural value, most
Left Panel - Why Preserve Our Prairies? image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, June 7, 2022
2. Left Panel - Why Preserve Our Prairies?
native prairies have been plowed under, and very few have been set aside as public lands.

In the early 1980's, Texas Parks and Wildlife reseeded the land beyond this panel with native plants. It will take more years of work to replicate a mixed-grass prairie on this site.

Life on the Prairie
Native prairies once provided food and habitat for a great diversity of wildlife species including millions of bison, pronghorn antelope and prairie dogs. Prairie animals are perfectly adapted to living in areas with little shade and few places to escape from predators. The interactions and feeding habits of the animals helped sustain prairie plant communities.

Captions
Lower Left: Pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) were reintroduced to Caprock Canyons State Park in the early 1980s.
Lower Middle: Now gone from this area, Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) were once a common sight. Their deep burrows, which insulated against intense heat and cold, also provided shelter for burrowing owls.
Upper Right: Prairies in 1850
Middle Right: The American kestrel (Falco sparverius) is the smallest North American hawk and can sometimes be seen on fences and telephone wires.
Lower Right: Many people think of prairies as largely grass, but they
The Natural Disturbance-Lifeblood of the Prairies Marker is the right panel image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, June 7, 2022
3. The Natural Disturbance-Lifeblood of the Prairies Marker is the right panel
also contain forbs (weeds), brush, and small trees. Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) is one of many wildflowers that bloom on the Panhandle Plains in the spring.

 
Erected by Texas Parks and Wildlife.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsParks & Recreational Areas. A significant historical year for this entry is 1850.
 
Location. 34° 24.587′ N, 101° 3.343′ W. Marker is near Quitaque, Texas, in Briscoe County. Marker is on Caprock Canyons Park Road, half a mile north of Farm to Market Road 1065, on the left when traveling north. The marker is located along the road just past the visitors center at Caprock Canyons State Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 850 Caprock Canyons Park Road, Quitaque TX 79255, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lake Theo Folsom Bison Kill Site (approx. 0.9 miles away); Home for 12,000 Years (approx. 3 miles away); Quanah Parker Trail (approx. 3.1 miles away); Resthaven Cemetery (approx. 3˝ miles away); Gasoline Cotton Gin (approx. 5.2 miles away); William E. Schott (approx. 5.4 miles away); a different marker also named Quanah Parker Trail (approx. 5.6 miles away); Camp Resolution (approx. 7.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Quitaque.
 
Also see . . .
Nearby Buffalo in the landscape of the park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, June 7, 2022
4. Nearby Buffalo in the landscape of the park
 American bison.
Once roaming in vast herds, the species nearly became extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle. With a population in excess of 60 million in the late 18th century, the species was down to just 541 animals by 1889. Recovery efforts expanded in the mid-20th century, with a resurgence to roughly 31,000 wild bison as of March 2019. Source: Wikipedia
(Submitted on June 22, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 22, 2022. It was originally submitted on June 22, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 207 times since then and 69 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 22, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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Jul. 20, 2024