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.