Only 4 percent of America’s tallgrass prairies remains today, mostly in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The early fall brings the highest grass, which quickly turns into a scrubby yellow straw. At their peak, there were up to 60 million bison in America munching away at the 60 varieties of tallgrass. But just like the prairies, human action led to the decimation of their population. Today, only 500,000 bison remain. But the hardy bison is making its comeback at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
The Bison Conservation Initiative led the reintroduction of bison to the Flint Hills. Bison add an additional level to the food chain, increasing the biodiversity of plant life. In 2008, 13 bison were airlifted from Wind Cave National Park to the preserve. Today the herd has around 100 bison. The BCI has also created 19 new herds of over 11,000 bison since their establishment.
A short walk along a gravel road and past some cow grates leads to the bison herd. Usually, they can be found along the hill where they graze, relax, and soak up the endless sun. Further on, six miles of hiking trails mowed and carved in the preserve are ready for exploration. The full round trip goes to the overlook of the entire prairie.