Great Plains Article in Harper’s

I hate to once again interrupt my broad survey of Great Plains topographical tidbits, but I wanted to take a moment to alert everyone about a very interesting article which just appeared in the July 2012 edition of Harper’s Magazine.  It’s a look at the future of agriculture on the Great Plains under the ominous title:  “The Looming Collapse of Agriculture on the Great Plains.”  

From reading the article, one thing appears to be clear:  Big changes will take place in the Great Plains region in the coming years and decades.  Traditional methods of ranching and farming will become more difficult due mostly to the drying up of the Ogallala Aquifer, energy interests from oil drilling to wind turbines will change the landscape, and the population will continue to decline.

Is this an opportunity for increased recreation on the Great Plains?  Perhaps.  It is unclear at this point what role, if any, the Great Plains Trail might play in the future of the region.  Any possible role would have to be be thoughtful, deliberate, wise and certainly many years away.  It would also be done with a goal of improving the economy of the region, and increasing the options of those who live there.

This isn’t the first time that the demise of the Great Plains has been rumored.  This time, let’s hope it has been greatly exaggerated.

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About greatplainstrail

Building the Great Plains Trail.
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2 Responses to Great Plains Article in Harper’s

  1. trailsnet says:

    I could never be a politician, because I’ve got this crazy habit of coming up with win/win solutions that would never be approved in D.C. For example, here’s how I would make lemonade out of this particular lemon:

    1. Pay farmers/ranchers for stretches of land through their property. The farmers would still be able to use the land, but the land would be technically owned by the GPTA or federal government. There would be very little net loss agriculturally but a major gain recreationally. In addition, the farmer would now have some extra money for farming purposes paid by $ that was previously used for agricultural subsidies. (So there wouldn’t even be an extra cost to tax-payers.)

    2. For every oil well that is added to the Great Plains, the oil companies would be asked to donate land or $ for the GPT. It’s like a carbon offset tax but with a more tangible outcome.

    I know, I know… these proposals make way too much sense!!! But I can dream, can’t I?

    • You must have been an elementary teacher! 😉 You’re good at problem solving in a way that takes into account all sides of the issue. If teachers ran the world, it would make a lot more sense! I can find no faults with your proposal, other than having to factor in the unpredictable nature of human psychology. Thanks for your thoughtful comments Kevin!

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