top of page
  • Writer's pictureJennifer Baker

Racing Extinction, Act Locally. Plant a Prairie.

"When you think of mass extinction, you think of a major catastrophe, like the meteor that killed the dinosours 65 million years ago. This time, humanity is the meteor.'

Remember the 2015 documentary, Racing Extinction? As Earth Day approaches, I watched it again; a painful reminder of the ongoing anthropogenic mass extinction of species. What I found most haunting was the recorded song of the last known O'o bird, a honeyeater endemic to Hawaii's Kauai. A lone male singing his part of what was supposed to be a duet with a female, who would never answer him.

What would it feel like to be the last of your species?

I remember my mom calling me after watching it, saying that she felt so helpless. I would guess that anyone who watched it did. What can we really do to curb extinctions associated with the Anthropocene?

It's easy to feel apathetic when you hear about O'o birds going extinct in Hawaii or Northern white rhinos in Africa. These places are so far away...what can I really do from central Wisconsin?

As Sia croons in the song she and J. Ralph recorded for the movie, "It's better to light one candle than curse the darkness."

Focus your effort locally.

Three endangered species are staring us right in the face in south central Wisconsin.

The oak and pine barrens and prairie communities that pepper the sandy acres of Marquette County provide refuge for the state endangered Western slender glass lizard and the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly and grey wolf. As potatoes, corn and soybeans march on to the detriment of these native ecosystems, habitat preservation and restoration is key. Although it's tough to protect 100 acres to encourage a sustainable wolf population if you don't own 100 acres, you can protect or restore what you do have, even if it's a small space.

If you happen to own a few sandy acres, reduce your lawn and plant a prairie; heavy on the lupine, which is the only known food source for the caterpillar stage of the Karner blue butterfly. Your prairie may even attract the ever-elusive legless glass lizard; which you will probably never see, but feel some comfort knowing that you provided a refuge. And think about all the other species that will benefit; from even a few hundred square feet!

In honor of this 2024 Earth Day, light your candle. Plant a refuge.


© 2024 by Sparrow Land Planning LLC.

Created on Wix Studio.

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Houzz
bottom of page