UPDATE: Help two CC alums 'rediscover' the prairie

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Colorado College grads Robin Walter and Sebastian Tsocanos have exceeded their $12,000 goal, with $15,775 contributed as of Saturday afternoon. As they mention in their thank-you post, additional donations will still go toward the project; if you're interested in joining the ranks of their donors, you have until the end of today, June 1, to donate.

——- ORIGINAL POST, MAY 23, 9:22 A.M. ——-

In 1806, Thomas Jefferson predicted that it would take 100 generations or more to inhabit the western U.S. He had sent Lewis and Clark to forge a path from the Missouri River to the sea and inspect the vast lands the country had just acquired via the Louisiana Purchase.

It didn't take 100 generations. It took five.

Rediscovering the Great American Prairie
  • Rediscovering the Great American Prairie

And in the process, all those settlers ripped up a millennia's worth of grassland topsoil (explained particularly poetically in O.E. Rølvaag's Giants in the Earth), which had disastrous consequences when the country dried out, making way for the Dust Bowl. Nowadays, development has taken up much of the land, along with agriculture, leaving only 1 percent of the original temperate grasslands, according to the Atlas of Global Conservation.

Pretty scary, right? And I only know this much because of Robin Walter and Sebastian Tsocanos, two 2012 Colorado College graduates who are now raising money for their project, Rediscovering the Great American Prairie.

Rediscovering the Great American Prairie
  • Rediscovering the Great American Prairie

The two plan to develop a documentary following their trek on horseback through the plains from northern Montana to western Missouri. Along the way they'll film, host community discussions, and post their progress on an interactive website. An exhibit of their experience will be hosted at Marmalade at Smokebrush.

Why horses? The duo says it not only honors the "cultural heritage of the landscape and historic importance of horses in the region," but allows them to really get the feel of the prairie. "This is a landscape that is often passed through at 75 mph, or looked down upon from 30,000 feet in the air; we want to slow down [their emphasis]." Plus, it's just awesome.

This, of course, costs money. They've already secured $22,000 through savings, secured donations and grants, but to bridge a $12,000 gap, they've launched an IndieGoGo campaign. As of this writing, it needs just under $5,000 with 10 days left.

You get some rad gifts in return, like a postcard from the road, a horseshoe from along the way and a copy of the film. And naturally, the knowledge that you helped make this happen. After all, the Dust Bowl only happened 70 years ago, and why wouldn't it happen again?

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