About the Center
Native grasslands, once a significant component of Eastern landscapes, have been reduced more than any other ecosystem in North America. These grasslands included extensive prairies, pine and oak savannahs, oak woodlands, and cedar glades, each with especially adapted flora and fauna.
Other grasslands, however, remain an important and viable component of regional landscapes. Approximately 51 million acres of pasture and hay lands occur in the Mid-South alone, forming the preponderance of non-forested cover within the region. Grasslands also occur on reclaimed surface mines, military training areas, and as small but important features within row crop dominated landscapes (e.g., grassed waterways, field buffers, and filter strips).
In recent years, a number of opportunities to incorporate native grasses into various management systems have been proposed. These include silvopastures, traditional forage production for hay and pasture, soil conservation, surface mine reclamation, and wildlife habitat. More recently, use of native grasses as biofuels feedstock has become an important issue.
In order to improve deployment of native grasses and to ensure optimum ecological benefits are realized, better information is needed in a number of areas. The Center for Native Grasslands Management, the first of its kind east of the Great Plains, is committed to filling that need.