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Grasslands form one of North America’s largest and most vital ecosystems, supporting crucial environmental functions like water supply, soil health, and biodiversity. Grasslands are also essential for agriculture, which has provided us with food and livelihoods for millennia. In recent decades, the tension between conserving grasslands and developing them to accommodate a growing population has only increased, exacerbated further by the impacts of climate change. What does a truly sustainable and resilient future for our continent's grasslands look like? What will it take to achieve it? How can you help?
Join us virtually this spring as we explore the science of grasslands and the complexities of managing them successfully in the modern age. Over the course of this four-part webinar series, our expert panelists will share the ecological role of birds, plants, and mammals; examine how current grassland practices impact Coloradans every day; consider the long cultural history of the grasslands (including Native & Indigenous land use practices and contemporary ranching practices) and much more. Each episode will feature a range of diverse perspectives in the pursuit of shared values and understanding.
Watch all episodes.
Episode 1: The Science of Grasslands
What and where are North America's grasslands? Why are they threatened? And why are these particular ecosystems so vital for the ongoing health of our society? In the premiere of our four-part series, we’ll look at the essential functions that grasslands provide — including carbon sequestration and water conservation — as well as some of the pressures they face, like human encroachment and climate change.
Episode 2: People & Grasslands
Grasslands have a long cultural and evolutionary history. Prior to European settlement on the continent, Native and Indigenous peoples cultivated their own relationships and management practices with these ecosystems. Ranching introduced a different approach, bringing new principles of agriculture and grazing to the range. How do these philosophies manifest in today’s grassland challenges, and where do conservation organizations fit in?
Episode 3: Back From the Brink in Larimer County
Grasslands are prized for their biodiversity, providing essential habitat for numerous plants, animals, and bird species across the continent. Sustainable management on a large scale requires thoughtful collaboration and planning. But it can be done. Over the past 25 years in Larimer County, city, county, state, federal, and NGO partners have worked together to protect 50,000+ acres of habitat and bring back threatened wildlife, establishing innovative systems for monitoring progress and managing the ecological health of these areas.
Episode 4: The Path Ahead
Grassland conservation remains one of this century’s most pressing challenges. How do we turn the tide in order to ensure a healthy, sustainable future for these ecosystems? The final episode of our series will take the long view “looking east” from Denver, examining previous successes that can be built upon as well as newer policies and programs that might point the way forward. We’ll also talk about the ways that both rural and urban consumers can get more actively engaged with agricultural issues, reduce misconceptions, and contribute to shared successes wherever they live.