Just What Is A Piedmont Prairie?
If you had the opportunity to read the October issue of Our State
Magazine you may have seen several interesting articles.
First was a rare interview with TV legend Andy Griffith as he looked back
at the success of my favorite TV show, The Andy Griffith Show.
Secondly, an article discussed the
Piedmont Prairies are a landscape that evokes a beautiful mental picture.
Everyone can picture miles upon miles of tall grasses covering the gently
rolling hills of
While much mystery still surrounds Piedmont prairies some things are for
sure. Prairies were havens for
wildlife. The mix of seeding flowers
and warm-weather grasses created ideal conditions for bison to graze.
Unfortunately, wild bison no longer roam the
Botanists also know some of the species of grasses that inhabited the
prairies. Big bluestem, little bluestem, gamma grass, plume grass, and Indian
grass were some of the species found thriving in the sunlight.
Flowers such as Schweinitzís sunflower, coneflowers, and blazing stars
helped provide diversity to the vegetation.
These grassy areas were maintained in part by the grazing of bison and
deer. The other key to their
survival was frequent fires. These
fires would help negate the larger woody species that eventually could have
choked off the sunlight. Occasionally,
a fire resistant tree like a longleaf pine, shortleaf pine, or post oak would
survive. Thatís why scientists
believe Piedmont Prairies differed from Midwestern Prairies because they were
not void of trees. Here in the
Today, an effort is being forged to restore some resemblance of these
prairies. Several local landowners
have taken it upon themselves to maintain the delicate balance of fire that is
required for these landscapes to thrive. Elsewhere,
government agencies have increased their interest in prairies, thanks in part to
the direct benefits of wildlife. Hopefully,
several years from now folks in