In 1996, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was established in east-central Kansas to protect almost 11,000 acres of the once immense tallgrass prairie that once stretched across central North America. Of the approximately 400,000 square mile of tallgrass prairie that existed in the 19th century, less than 4% remains, largely in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The preserve is a unique partnership between The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the National Park Service (NPS), each working together to preserve this high quality native tallgrass prairie remnant.
The Preserve is co-managed as a public-private preserve, with NPS owning roughly 33 acres of the preserve, and TNC owning the rest. Together, the NPS and TNC work to protect a culturally significant landmark that includes a historical ranch house, limestone barn, and schoolhouse, as well as the unique natural resources of the preserve, including a bison herd of roughly 90 animals! After a century and a half absence of bison, NPS and TNC restored 13 bison to the preserve in 2009 from Wind Cave National Park. This restoration of bison not only represented a vital component for the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, but also conservation of the American bison.