NANFA-- Ohio farmland and a valuable book

Jay DeLong (
Sat, 16 Sep 2000 10:50:30 -0700

Yeah, Rob, the Great Black Swamp was probably home to a very different fish
fauna than are there now. I imagine the present ranges of fishes like the
pirate perch (not found in Ohio for decades) and the bowfin are quite
different than before that wetland was drained.

Most of the land in Ohio now in agriculture was once heavily forested.
Prairies never made up much of the landscape there. According to K. Roger
Troutman in "Ohio's Natural Heritage" there were about 300 treeless prairies
ranging in size from a few acres to more than several townships. Ohio
prairies were small versions of the large western prairies and made up about
1000 square miles (2-1/2 % of the land area). There are a few small
remnants of native tall grass prairie still in Ohio. Two were preserved
because they are old cemeteries. One in north central Ohio (I can't
remember exactly where) that I think is called Smith Cemetery is less than
500 sq ft in size and when you are in it you feel like you're on a small
knob because the surrounding farmland has eroded away so much. It's maybe 2
feet above the surrounding fields.

In a few cases, when farmers plowed their fields but didn't plant it for
some reason, native prairie plants sprouted from long-dormant seeds. This
happened in an area now known as Chapparal Prairie Nature Preserve in south
central Ohio which was for many years a tobacco field. Of course the
farmland of Ohio and throughout the midwest is here to stay, but it's not
too late for the streams and rivers of the region to make great strides
towards recovery from human activity!

Anyone interested in the natural history of Ohio should locate this book:
Ohio's Natural Heritage
Michael Lafferty, Editor
Ohio Academy of Science, 1979
I just did a search on Bibliofind and found 6 copies starting at $24.

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA

> -----Original Message----- > From: On Behalf > Of Robert Carillio > Sent: Saturday, September 16, 2000 7:14 AM > To: > Subject: Re: NANFA-- Natives should get TV exposure > > > > In Milton Trautman's FISHES OF OHIO, there is a section in the > begining that > describes Ohio from the early 1700's. Just going back that far > was amazing > to read about. How western Ohio contained what was called "The > Great Black > Swamp" along the coast of Lake Erie must have been an incredible > sight.... a > swamp stretching 120 miles long, and 40 miles wide. Today, onle remnants > remain along the shores of the lake. These are protected, and one > can get a > glimpse into the past in that area. The land has been drained for > agricultural use and the like.... you know how it goes!!!.... The > tall grass > prarie descriptions are also incredible. If any one gets a chance, they > should read this section of that book!

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