Originally spanning portions of 14 states and covering over 142 million acres, the tallgrass prairie was one of North America's major ecosystems. It was a complex landscape, harboring a rich diversity of plants and animals, that was shaped by nature.
Today, less than 10% of the original tallgrass prairie remains. Most of it has been converted to farmland. Large, unbroken tracts of tallgrass prairie only exist now in the Flint Hills of Oklahoma and Kansas. In 1989, the Nature Conservancy purchased the 29,000 acre Barnard Ranch as the cornerstone of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. The Preserve now consists of 38,600 acres of land owned or leased by The Nature Conservancy. The Conservancy's goal is to recreate a functioning tallgrass prairie ecosystem using controlled burns and bison. The 300 bison reintroduced in 1993 will eventually grow to a herd of 3,200 animals freely roaming on 32,000 acres of preserve.
Images are copyright of The Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc. and the artist. Please contact Matt Duehning at 405-524-0126 or Matt.Duehning@oksenate.gov for further copyright information.