The Problem with “Calendar Prairies”

Discussions of other biomes and ecosystems that are not forested. This includes deserts, prairies, swamps, and marshes.

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The Problem with “Calendar Prairies”

Post by edfrank » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:52 pm

The Problem with “Calendar Prairies” ... omment-201

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Posted on December 29, 2010 by Chris Helzer

I think I first heard the term “calendar prairie” from my friend Bill Whitney of Prairie Plains Resource Institute. He was talking about the mental image many people have of prairies that comes from seeing photographs of grasslands full of big showy flowers in books, posters, and calendars. The term, and its implications for prairie management, has stuck with me over the years.

Unrealistic Expectations

There are a couple of dangers associated with people holding a mental image of what a prairie is supposed to look like. The first is that it’s easy for people to have unrealistic expectations for prairies. I’m a photographer, so I know firsthand that flowery photos don’t always represent an accurate picture of the prairie in which the photos were taken. Photographers are often drawn to the biggest patches of showy flowers, and by creative use of perspective they can make those patches look even showier than they look in real life. The result is usually a beautiful photograph that someone familiar with the prairie might not recognize. To be clear, I’m not saying this kind of photography is a bad; on the contrary, attractive photographs have been extremely important for building the public’s interest in prairies.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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