"One of our goals is to restore this area to pre-settlement conditions," said Steigman, explaining that drought, fire and large grazing animals like bison are essential to prairie ecology.
Only tough, deep-rooted plants could survive the area's periodic droughts. Fires, often sparked by lightning, prevented tall trees from gaining a firm foothold but allowed quick growing grasses and other prairie plants to flourish.
And buffalo, which roamed the prairies west of the Mississippi River in the millions before their numbers were devastated in the late 1800s, were an integral part of the ecosystem.
I covered this in some detail in both The Third Revolution and Middle America.