"Iowa is the most 'altered' state in the nation. To a greater degree than in any other state, the natural landscape no longer exists. The forests have been felled, the prairies plowed, the streams straightened and scoured and reduced to ditches, the wetlands drained and filled and their wildlife forced out. Some alteration had to happen; the soils of Iowa are simply too rich to leave in prairie when there's a world to feed."
From: Des Moines Register Editorial 8-30-98
A major housing developer is requesting permission from the Zoning Commission to build a new subdivision in one of the few remaining prairie areas of the state.
The Zoning Commission has requested information on prairies and the impact new subdivisions would have on the prairie ecosystem. The Commission has requested that a group of community experts research the issue and prepare a presentation to assist in making a decision.
Review the following websites and background information on the preservation of natural prairie lands as well as restoration efforts and techniques.
Preserving Tallgrass Prairie Remnants
Conservation Section - Native Prairie Management Guide
Take a virtual tour of a new smart growth neighborhood.
Urban Sprawl – The Big Picture
Earth-orbiting satellites have a wonderful view of our planet's fast-growing cities, but most city planners don't have access to this "big picture" from space. NASA-supported scientists are working to change that.
You are an attorney who represents the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Your role is to review The Endangered Species Act and provide information about how the Act saves animals from extinction.
What is sprawl? Is there an end in sight?
Your role is to describe the prairie environment of the past and provide information about the loss of valuable ecosystems. Your research should explain why prairies are becoming extinct and what role the prairie plays in America's rich biological diversity.
A Guide to Urban Habitat Conservation Planning
How does this give land owners more flexibility and control?
Weeds Gone Wild
How will invasive alien (exotic, nonnative) plants threaten and impact native flora, fauna, and natural ecosystems of the United States? What if prevention efforts are not implemented?
Your role is to share information about the loss of a valuable farmland.
Your role is to explain the need to protect prairies for future generations to understand the agricultural heritage of the state. You will explain conservation efforts that have been successful in other communities.
Your role is to explain how the land developers have researched the proposed area for zoning regulations, water, sewer and roads and the need for urban growth and the benefits to the community. Explain how species protection efforts should be compatible with landowner rights.
Smart Growth, Smart Choices
Meeting the housing demand innovative development projects and key issues in the growth debate
Smart Choices or Sprawling Growth
A 50-state survey of development...the good, the bad and the poorly zoned
Read the directions to help you understand how your team will research and analyze information.
Each person on your team will research, analyze and provide information from his or her perspective on the topic of prairie preservation, the need for additional housing in the community, and the impact of new housing developments on the prairie ecosystem.
Try to find an expert in your community or county or via the WWW with the same or similar occupation as your assigned role. You might email that person and ask questions about their career and the ways their job assists with conservation of the environment.
Ask for additional resource information or their opinion about your research project. Include information in your email message with your name, school, grade, why you are seeking this information, your question, and a sentence thanking the expert.
Review the checklist of project activities.
- Display board
- News broadcast including pictures, graphs or video clips (filmed with a video camera)
- Web page including links to websites you used to gather your information
- Letter to the editor
- PowerPoint presentation
- Magazine article with photos
Evaluate your peers' projects on how well their conclusions are supported by data and facts.
Was their argument convincing? What made you think so?
The Prairie Problem is a real problem in the Loess Hills of Western Iowa.
If you were on the Zoning Commission, how would you vote? Why?
Your project evaluation will assess how you support your conclusion, the effectiveness of your selected method of sharing information, teamwork and collaboration with your peers.