Reading the Prairie Waterlines


Gregg Treinish and his team at Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation bring us stories from around the world about adventuring with purpose. Here, ASC volunteer Kim Tri considers the stories left behind by water on the American Prairie Reserve. Kim collected data on the prairie as a member of ASC’s Landmark Adventure Science crews this October and November.

A frog frozen into the mud (Photo by Kim Tri)

By Kim Tri

The October and November Landmark crew didn’t witness the catastrophic floods of late summer. We never dealt with the endless rain and the gumbo roads. We didn’t visit the wreckage of the bridge across Fourchette Creek to the Buffalo Jump. We were never stranded for days in floodplains clear up to our doorstep, listening to the incessant whine of mosquitos.

Still, we have seen the flood. I can read the waterlines in the contour of flotsam piles and the washed-out green of algae in dry potholes. These signs spell out the story of every drop of water on this perennially parched land.

The fascinating thing about this story is that it is clearly visible, even in the dry months—of which there are many—and it is always being written.

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