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The Next Generation In The Study Of Custer's Last Stand
Plants & Birds Of Little Bighorn
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Plant & Bird Survey by
Dr. Jane & Carl Bock (PDF)
Antelope along Deep Ravine Trail - photo courtesy John Doerner
Most of us who study this battle do so from a military perspective. Whenever we have the great opportunity to visit the battlefield we are aware of the grass, plants, and birds; however, how many of us actually pay attention to them? I highly recommend you read this interesting report by Doctors Carl and Jane Bock of the University of Colorado (now retired), about the plants and birds at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The Bock report clearly explains how things have changed from June 25, 1876.
Indian accounts describe warriors hidden in the tall grass and behind sagebrush as they crawled toward, and fired upon, the soldiers. How many of you that stand on Last Stand Hill think you’re looking at the species of sagebrush described by the Indians? The report explains that this particular species of sagebrush was destroyed in the 1983 fire and it might be 200 years before we see it again!
Debates continue about how much freedom visitors should have to walk the entire length of the battlefield at their leisure. The report is clear how walking off the trails will forever destroy the way the battlefield appeared in 1876. All of us who value preserving the view shed should appreciate the concerns raised in this report regarding foot traffic over the battlefield.
Reading the Bock report will provide valuable information to help you appreciate more of the battlefield during your next visit.
Examples of Plants and Birds in the Report
Copyright 1999-2013 Bob Reece
Friends Little Bighorn Battlefield, P.O. Box 636, Crow Agency, MT 59022