• The setting sun over the Flint Hills casts shadows across the wide expanse of tallgrass prairie.

    Tallgrass Prairie

    National Preserve Kansas

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  • Reminder, Bison Are Wild Animals

    Windmill Pasture is home to the bison herd. They have been quite active in recent weeks. Please stay on the trails and use caution in their vicinity. Do not come in close contact with the bison. Allow at least 100 yards between you and the herd. More »

Fire and the Black Line

fire twisters

These images were taken in March of 2002 during the spring prescribed prairie burn at the preserve. The right amount of vortex created tornadoes of smoke. It was such an amazing sight, we wanted to share this experience.

 
fire line at the school

Each spring specific areas of the preserve are burned to promote prairie diversity and its health. Just like the early settlers, the National Park Service places a "blackline" (or burn line) around the ranch headquarters area to protect the historic buildings from fire. Most common burn lines range from 50 to 100 feet wide.

In the photo to the left, the "blackline" was the first line to be burned. It was burned approximately two weeks before the other areas of the preserve were burned. Therefore, it was the first area to begin regrowth; note the green line. The blackened area to its left is the remains of the spring prescribed prairie burn. It too will begin growing grass.

Fire is essential to the health of the prairie. It rids the prairie of woody vegetation and undergrowth, while promoting new growth. Without fire, the prairie will becomes a forest over time.

Did You Know?

Grazing cattle at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Cattle can gain up to 2 pounds per day grazing on the prairie grasses of the Flint Hills. The calcium found in the limestone erodes into the soil, making the prairie plants more nutritious for grazing animals. Cattle grazing is still the main agricultural use of the Flint Hills today.