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        North Dakota | Activity 8.3: Northern Plains Grasslands under Threat

        After watching a video on the Northern Plains grasslands, students create a list of reasons the grasslands are valuable.

        Lesson Summary

        After watching a video on the Northern Plains grasslands, students create a list of reasons the grasslands are valuable.

        This lesson is part of "Great States | North Dakota | Unit 8: Modern North Dakota" where students will learn about the concerns and challenges that the people of North Dakota face today.

        Time Allotment

        15 minutes

        Learning Objectives


        4.5.3: Identify the location and characteristics of significant features of North Dakota (e.g., landforms, river systems, climate, regions, major cities)

        4.3.2: Identify ways that natural resources (e.g., soil, minerals, trees, fish, people) contribute to the economy of the local community and North Dakota

        8.5.1: Describe the location and characteristics of the three regions of North Dakota including the Red River Valley, the Drift Prairie, and the Missouri Plateau




        1. Explain to students that there are endangered grasslands of the prairie and Great Plains states. Tell students they will watch a video that further discusses this issue.
        2. Provide the Northern Plains Grasslands handout to students. Instruct students to take notes as they watch.
        3. Play the video, America's Grasslands: A Threatened National Treasure | Our Least Appreciated and Most Threatened Biome [7:10].
        4. Ask students: what is causing the grasslands to become endangered?
        5. Have students complete the questions on the handout.
        6. After reconvening to discuss students’ answers, ask students why it might be difficult for people appreciate the grasslands and understand why they need to be protected?

        Answer Key

        Discussion Answers:

        1. The grasslands are becoming endangered due to agricultural pressure. Native grass is disappearing as farmers till the land for cropland. [1:29]
        1. The great plains are not as breathtaking as other landscapes appear to be [3:23]. They have a “subtle beauty.” People who are not native to the area drive right through the flat, vast land without appreciating the wildlife [5:05].

        Handout Answers:

        1. Value of Grasslands
          • Breeding habit for waterfowl, migratory birds and other wildlife [1:46]
          • Offers biodiversity in plants and insects for the ecosystem [2:55]
            Home to 250 plant species, 150+ species of birds [5:26]
          • Historical preservation: teepee rings, wagon trails [6:20]
        2. Environmental Impact
          • Loss of native grasses [0:23]
          • Reduction of America’s largest breeding ground (prairie & wetlands) for waterfowl [2:36]
          • Need to balance food needs with conservation


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