Frank Popper, Ph.D. with his wife Deborah, wrote the article “The Great Plains: From Dust to Dust” (Planning, December, 1987) which put forward the controversial Buffalo Commons thesis that has stimulated national debate about the future of the Great Plains. The Poppers’ continuing Buffalo Commons work received the American Geographical Society’s Paul Vouras Medal for regional geography in 1997, when Frank also received the Rutgers Presidential Award for Distinguished Public Service. Frank holds both a masters and doctorate degree from Harvard.
I can never think of my favorite time or place in the Plains. The gunmetal skies of North Dakota winter mornings, June noons with the Kansas hills in glistening bloom, the somber-serene horizons of Staked Plains Texas any time of year – who could choose among these or any other forty choices the Plains always offers? One of the fine things about America is how it often gives you second, third, and fourteenth chances. The Buffalo Commons is a wonderful example. It is part proposal, part metaphor for a long-term series of land-use changes, and an appeal for rethinking Plains possibilities. We want to offer something to the people of the Plains, not take something away.