<span id="lblNoFrames"><h1>MP44629CarrelsSierraEpubOPT.pdf</h1><br/>Pines & PrairiePines & PrairiePines & PrairieOffering the environmental perspectiveA newsletter published by the South Dakota Chapter of the Sierra ClubProtecting the environment and public health are as vital to our civilization as building the economy.March 2013IndexAgriculture boom may doom tallgrass prairie ecosystemNo one can dispute the economic impact industrial agriculture has had on South Dakota.<br/>The marketing campaigns employed by industries with a vested interest in expanding corn and soybean production have been wildly successful, and revenues for those selling seed, biocides, synthetic fertilizers, and farm implements have been excellent. Long-struggling grain farmers are enjoying profits as never before, and land values, based on rising yields and crop prices, are soaring toward unimagined levels. There is, perhaps, no state that relies more on agriculture for its economic well-being than South Dakota. Understandably, financial prosperity for the grain industry is welcomed and encouraged in few states like it is in South Dakota. Both political parties, nearly every major institution, the media, community groups, just about everybody is cheering the grain boom.But conservationists acknowledge a flip side to farming’s recent economic gains, and those with an interest in land use, ecosystems, natural processes, and resource management are carefully weighing the positives and negatives of grain growing on a grand scale. Ecologists warn that it is a mistake to devote so much land in a single region to a single crop. They worry that intensive, rapidly expanding industrial grain farming is eliminating a fundamental ecosystem in what we call the cornbelt. Unless careful conservation measures are incorporated into agriculture, they say, the degradation and overuse of resources in our region will result in conditions that mirror what has happened elsewhere in the world when intensive, monocultural crop production came to dominate land use throughout a landscape. This discussion must begin by acknowledging that the grasslands that created the fertile soils mantling the modern American cornbelt have been nearly obliterated by industrial agricultural practices. Tallgrass prairie, once one of the continent’s most expansive and important ecosystems, had been disappearing at a steady rate for many decades, but the recent explosion in prices paid for corn, soybeans, and other agricultural products has prompted an alarming acceleration of prairie-plowing and wetland-draining. continued on page 2Vanishing Prairie ............................pg 1Pine Beetles ....................................pg 3Natural Passages ............................pg 3Farm Bill ..........................................pg 4Hyperion ..........................................pg 5Goodbye Jon Bry .............................pg 5Greenwashing .................................pg 6True Environmentalists ...................pg 6SD Wind Energy ..............................pg 7Bear Butte .......................................pg 8Restored perennial tallgrass prairie at EcoSun Prairie Farm, where agricultural pioneers are working to prove that farming can be both profitable and ecologically sustainable.Widespread industrial corn farming depletes soil health, causes soil erosion, water pollution and ecological deg-radation, and harms bio-diversity.<br/>Are there healthier, more sustainable ways to use so much of our land and still provide for our needs?Photo courtesy of EcoSun Prairie Farms</span>