Imagine a vast swath of prairie with tall grasses swaying in the wind as far as the eye can see. The days when that was a common sight are gone, but in West Broadway and other areas of the city and the province, tall grass prairie is on its way back, even just in a small way.
According to the City of Winnipeg Tall Grass Prairie website, tall grasses once covered an area “one and a half times the size of Manitoba,” which included one and a half million acres in this province alone.
Now only about 32 acres of that kind of terrain remain, but large and small projects are helping to make a difference.
Why would anyone want to revive an ecosystem that appears to be long gone? According to the Nature Conservancy Canada website, the tall grass prairie ecosystem that once stretched all the way to Texas supported a variety of habitats and animal and plant species, including a rare species of orchid.
Besides preserving an important habitat, tall grass prairie reserves present good educational opportunities.
According to the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre’s website, “teaching diversity and cooperation is a priority of the staff,” and even a small reserve of tall grass prairie is an integral part of the learning process.
Increasing the number of plants and open spaces in the area is also part of the overall goal of the West Broadway Greenspace Plan. According to that document, West Broadway has the highest proportion of people living in poverty in all of Winnipeg, but “the renewal of urban areas by greening them increases the overall quality of life and helps to reduce social exclusion.”
Much of the greening plan includes vegetable gardens, fruit bushes and trees, and similar initiatives, and the tall grass prairie preserve is another part of that mix. At only a few metres square, the tiny segment of tall grass prairie in West Broadway will make only a small, but essential, difference.
Without the tall grass prairie garden, some people might never have a chance to see this type of vegetation. As ecosystems continue to disappear and people must find new ways of learning about their environment, the small area of tall grass prairie in West Broadway is an important reminder of what makes up Canada’s natural landscape.
Originally published in Canstar Metro