BUFFALO COMMONS by ert554898



       Deborah E.
       Frank J. Popper
Buffalo Commons as a

   An effective means to pursue a
    traditionally central task of geography.
   An inclusive way to make thinking
    about regions and the probable
    changes in them accessible.
The Purpose Of the Buffalo

   A large scale land restoration project.
Region For The Buffalo

   The Great Plains
          Lying between the Rockies and the tall grass
           prairies of the Midwest and South.
          Extend over large parts of ten states.
          Produce significant quantities of cattle, wheat,
           cotton, sheep, coal, oil, natural gas, and

   Region’s history shows a basic cyclical
    pattern of growth and decline.
          Periods of high rainfall and federally subsidized
           settlement initially induce a boom.
          Overgrazing and overflowing erode the soil and
           lower the water table; a bust ensues, with
           heavy depopulation.
Economic/ Environmental

   Two cycles have already occurred
          First began with the 1862 Homestead Act that
           gave 160 acres of free land if it could be
           farmed for five years.
                   The cycle reached it’s zenith in the heavy
                    rain years of the 1870’s.
                   It ended in the 1890’s with widespread
                    starvation and large convoys headed east
                    out of the Plains.
          The second cycle began in the early 1900’s
           with new homesteading laws that gave settlers
           up to 640 acres.
                   It reached it’s height during World War I
                    when American wheat replaced European
                    production lost to the battlefields.
                   It ended in the 1930’s with the Great
                    Depression, drought, the Dust Bowl, and the
                    abolition of homesteading.
The Third Cycle

   The upswing occurred from the 1940’s
    to the 1970’s
   It had featured the first introduction of
    large scale federal subsidies; both
    agricultural and energy development.
   By the mid-1980’s large parts of the
    Plains’ farm, ranch, energy, and mining
    economies were in near depression as
    the national economy, federal policies,
    and global markets shifted.
   Population losses had accelerated;
    young people in particular had left.
How Buffalo Commons Would

   In land-use terms: an umbrella phrase
    for a long term restoration project to
    counter the long term effects of the
    three cycles.
   Where land uses were not working
    well, replacement land uses that
    treated the land more lightly would
    become inevitable.
   The federal government would oversee
    the replacement, and the new land
    uses would fall between intensive
    cultivation/extraction and pure
Reaction to Buffalo Commons

   People variously interpreted the
    metaphor as a general assault on their
    way of life.
   Many Great Plains people intensely
    disliked the commons portion of the
   Sometimes the only point a group
    could agree on was that they didn’t like
    the Buffalo Commons.
Adaptation of the Metaphor

   The Buffalo Commons was specifically
    set up as a metaphor so that different
    people in different regions could use it
    for their specific problems.
          – North Dakota sees buffalo production and
            buffalo tourism as vital to it’s growth.
          – Rural Pacific Northwest has similar problems to
            the Great Plains. It has adopted the salmon
            metaphor in place of the buffalo to alter certain
 “A treasure of insight can be
  unlocked via metaphorical
 rather than literal or rational
thinking… because metaphor
 performs a poetic as well as
   conservative function in
      ordinary language,
preserving as well as creating
 knowledge about actual and
    potential connections
  between different realms of

                Anne Buttimer,

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