||At one time, native grasses dominated much of this region’s landscape.
Over a period of decades, we have converted native grasslands to
non‐native plants that we felt suited our needs better. Recently, we’ve begun to have second thoughts. One reason is that our needs
have changed some, and another is that we now know more about ecosystems and what makes them function. An effort is now underway
to convert part of our landscape back to native grasses, but changing
an old habit is difficult. People are reluctant to change something
that’s worked for them their whole life. Opponents of new ideas abound, and the internet and other instant media provide ready platforms from which to express their opinions. The result is
a polarized and confused public, politicians unwilling to commit,
unstable public policy, and frustrated change agents. Changing the
old habit can be done, but it won’t be easy. We first have to admit
that native grasses are not a panacea—not the only answer. We must
understand that we won’t ever convert all the landscape back to native
plants—we have too many people to feed. With that basic understanding,
we must do three things to be successful in converting part of our
landscape back to native plant communities:
o Provide leadership. And the initial leadership must come from people
at this symposium.
o Develop a long‐range strategic plan—with goals, benchmarks, and timelines.
o Be patient with those who oppose or try to distract us, keep
our frustration at bay, and above all—persevere until the job is done.