The explanation is most likely because the Excellent Plains are or were a great site for grasses to flourish and not so much for trees, unless they were beside a river or something. Grazing animals, such as bison, do not consume brush in the same way that trees do. The vast grassland could support a large number of bison. Without wood to build shelters with, these animals constructed large domed tents called "bullskins" for shelter and protection from the elements. These structures would eventually decay and fall into obscurity if left alone.
Trees provide food and other resources to animals in many ways. Animals eat the leaves and fruit of trees and also dig up the soil around them looking for food. This is called "grazing". The roots of trees help hold the soil together so it does not blow away like sand dunes, this is called "herding". Without trees, animals would have nothing to eat or defend themselves with. That is why trees are important for wildlife - they give them food, homes, and protection.
There are several types of trees that used to cover the Great Plains including cottonwood, willow, and prairie dog tree. All of these trees provided food and other resources to animals in their own ways. Cottonwoods produced seeds that could germinate after being frozen then thawed out again, this is how pioneers found food during winter when there were no crops growing. Willows produced edible green shoots that animals ate during spring when other plants weren't available yet.
The Plains were abundant in one key resource: grass, which had maintained massive buffalo herds for hundreds of years. The annihilation of these vast herds in the 1880s made it possible to raise domestic cattle on the vast open pastures.
This change came at a time when millions of people were moving into the United States. Without a sufficient food supply, this migration could not have taken place. The need for food was so great that it drove individuals to go where they could find it. This is how pioneers from different parts of Europe and America ended up living on the prairies.
At first, they cleared the land of trees and bushes and planted corn, wheat, and other grains. But soon they realized that grazing livestock on the rich soil helped produce more grain. So farmers began raising cows, pigs, and sheep. By 1890, almost all of the original grasslands had been converted into farmland.
Today, most of the original grasslands have been restored, but not until then migrant worker families moved out to make way for them. There is now a movement to expand this restoration effort by growing native plants on some of the former farm lands. This would help maintain the healthy ecosystem found there before the arrival of Europeans.
Summary of the Lesson Today, the plains are a significant cattle and grain producer. The Native American tribes and bison herds that originally roamed the plains were evicted in the nineteenth century as part of the United States' deliberate endeavor to colonize the Great Plains and grow the nation's agriculture.
The Great Plains region is vital to the economy of North America because of their importance for livestock production and farming. In 2010, these activities accounted for 19% of Iowa's exports and 15% of its imports. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that farmers on the Great Plains raised approximately $140 million worth of buffalo meat that year. The majority of this buffalo was slaughtered for meat consumption rather than sold at market.
Native Americans lived in small bands across the Great Plains area when Europeans arrived. They depended on the buffalo herd for food, clothing, and money. When Europeans began arriving, the native populations were already limited by disease and violence from other settlers. By the time the last native American died in 1876, almost all the buffalo had been killed.
After the buffalo were gone, farmers started developing land that had been worn out by use as pasture for cows. They used horses to pull plows and carts, making it possible for people to farm on lands that weren't suitable for grazing cows. This activity generated its own need for fuel, which led to the development of forests on lands that once had been prairie.