Restoring Grasslands by Restoring Species

26 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 262 (2017)

13 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2018

Date Written: February 12, 2018


Grasslands are also “the world’s most imperiled ecosystem.” The protection of grasslands is important, but insufficient. We need to restore grasslands, not simply preserve the few we have left. The restoration of grasslands requires a legal tool that encourages or even requires such actions.This essay begins by describing the role that the reintroduction of species plays in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). It then considers the potential importance of the ESA as a tool for conserving grassland species. Next it considers the Eskimo curlew, a bird that was once abundant throughout the North American grasslands and which is now listed as endangered under the ESA, but whose reintroduction is precluded by the likelihood that it is already extinct. The essay turns next to the black-footed ferret, which is being introduced in multiple sites throughout the Great Plains. One of those sites is on private land in Logan County, and the controversy that has resulted there reveals both some of the opportunities and the challenges for relying on the ESA to preserve grassland ecosystems.

Keywords: Grasslands, species, Endangered Species Act, ecosystem, restoration, Kansas, black-footed ferret

JEL Classification: K32, K11

Suggested Citation

Nagle, John Copeland, Restoring Grasslands by Restoring Species (February 12, 2018). 26 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 262 (2017). Available at SSRN:

John Copeland Nagle (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States

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