Let The Buffalo Roam

Much of what is now chaparral and desert in the Great American West was grassland when the buffalo roamed. It still could be if they did again. The Buffalo's [bison really] natural range included the plains of central North America from Mexico north into Canada and east as far as New York, Maryland, and Florida. BWG [before white guys]. They were the most abundant herd animal in history. Because the buffalo traveled from basin to basin as they grazed, the grass co-evolved with them, the buffalo ate then spread and manured the grass seed, the buffalo and the grasslands spread each other.

Sadly today, buffalo live only in zoological parks and in a few herds on refuges and preserves. Much of their former range is unsuitable for cattle, the grasses, in many of these marginal areas, have been replaced by sage brush. It ain't called the sagebrush nation for nothing. A shame really that we don't let the buffalo roam, let them slowly re-establish the grasslands in the high open deserts of the west. Range land can become a significant sink or sequestration pool for greenhouse gasses, literally sucking excess greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and sequestering them safely in the soil, where they belong. We could passively capture and sequester, through organic soil and land management, at least 100 billions tons of excess carbon.

It's been shown that humans would be better off eating buffalo than cattle, anyway. And so much grain output now goes to feeding cattle that the soaring world price of grain is starving the poor. i've got nothing against cattle, cattle are great at grazing too and they've been turning grass and grain it into edible protein for a long time now. But the disgusting feed lot stuff has robbed the cowboy of his magic, for a buncha reasons, cattle eating ain't what it used to be.

Everyone could be involved, we could be hiring unemployed America to build buffalo proof fencing, FDR style. Next, why not build highway and train track over passes to let the buffalo roam freely between the high basins. The over passes could be accomplished by excavating half of the necessary depth [buffalo ain't THAT tall] and building arches over the top half outta the overburden removed from the bottom half. The overburden could be mixed with volcanic ash, as the Romans did-they called it pozzalona-it's the original cement, its free, it's abundant, it's labor intensive. Imagine how many decent jobs could be created building fences and arched overpasses-some body's gotta manufacture all the gear, some body's gotta truck it too.

Hard work creates hard workers, instills pride and skill in those workers. Sweat fosters independence, a well earned pay check is what Americans need. Bank bailouts and stimulus funds give the rich an extra bucks with which they might choose to hire a new maid or a couple gardeners, but letting the buffalo roam could put a few of those billions into the hands of people who'd spend almost every dime of their paychecks locally, hiring other local people in their turn. We could meet or exceed our carbon targets and put people back to work, but also important, we'd see pride and independence of spirit growing, along with the grasslands, if we let the buffalo roam.