grasses in the tallgrass prairie photo

federally threatened Mead's milkweed photo

prairie fringed orchid photo

 Mountain-Prairie Region  Partners for Fish & Wildlife



Tallgrass Legacy Alliance

ranchers herding cattle across the prairie photo

Goals of the Tallgrass Legacy Alliance

Prevent further loss of tallgrass prairie.

Facilitate public awareness of the benefits provided by tallgrass prairie, such as:

  • Watershed protection
  • Water-quality benefits
  • Economic benefits of the beef/grass industry/economy
  • Viewsheds/open space vistas
  • Carbon sequestering
  • Cultural and historical value

Develop and help implement specific Farm Bill policies benefiting the tallgrass prairie.

Facilitate development of tallgrass conservation easement programs in Kansas.

Provide expanded use of existing range management programs for the benefit of the tallgrass prairie landscape.

Serve as a producer driven, landscape scale initiative, designed for private landowners to voluntarily, with agency assistance, manage the remaining tallgrass prairie in a manner that fiscally supports the ranching culture, and does so in an ecologically sound manner, precluding any further listing of tallgrass species under the Endangered Species Act.


Kansas Livestock Association
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
Kansas Farm Bureau
State Conservation Commission
Kansas Association of Conservation Districts
Kansas Biological Survey
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks
Kansas Extension Service
The Nature Conservancy, Kansas and Oklahoma Chapters
State Association of Kansas RC&D Councils
Stream and Prairie Research
Wildlife Management Institute


U.S. Army Fort Riley
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Service

Program Accomplishments

  • Mapping of the Corps of Engineers native plant communities on Kansas Projects
  • Mapping of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service native plant communities in the tallgrass region of Kansas
  • Invasive species work with the State Weed Board
  • Initiate agency acceptance of easement programs in Kansas (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/The Nature Conservancy/Natural Resources Conservation Service)
  • Prioritized listing of issues/concerns
  • Partial development of action plans addressing issues of concern
  • Active participation in 2002 Farm Bill development through the Wildlife Management Institute
  • New level of cooperation between diverse groups such as The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Farm Bureau, Kansas Livestock Association and others

rolling grassy hills with highway going through photo

Some Prairie Statistics

  • Less than 4% of the original tallgrass prairie remains in North America today.  Kansas harbors 80% of this remaining prairie.
  • Prior to settlement, Iowa had almost twice as much tallgrass prairie as Kansas.  Today, only .01% of Iowa's historic total remains.
  • Historically, Kansas was ranked 5th in the nation for acreage of tallgrass prairie.  But today, Kansas has more tallgrass prairie than all other prairie states combined.
  • 82.6% of the historic tallgrass prairie in Kansas has been lost.
  • Greenwood County has more native prairie than any other county in Kansas--over 500,000 acres.
  • Percentage of native prairie in some adjacent counties:
Chase = 80%
Greenwood = 68%
Elk = 61%
Morris = 56%
Butler = 53%
Lyon = 44%
Woodson = 38%
Wilson = 24%

Top Five Threats to the Tallgrass Prairie in Kansas

#1 invasive species (photo of evergreens in prairie)

1.  Invasive species including fire suppression species and noxious weeds

#2 fragmentation (aerial photos showing same location over time)

2. Fragmentation

#3 lack of financial incentives (photo of cattle roundup)

3.  Lack of private, state, or federal financial incentives to manage Tallgrass Prairie in a sustainable manner

#4 negative profitability (photo of wildflowers)

4.  Negative profitability of the agricultural sector

#5 loss of native speciation (photo of wild orange lily)

5.  Loss of native speciation and the associated social, fiscal, and biological implications

History of the Tallgrass Legacy Alliance

The Tallgrass Legacy Alliance began in 1999 when Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologists began to "think big, think ecosystems."  This came at a time when the Kansas Partners Program was just finishing a needs assessment of the State's various habitats, done primarily through The Nature Conservancy and Kansas Biological Survey.

The assessment showed clearly that of all the resource issues and environmental needs facing Kansas, one stood boldly forward-- the TALLGRASS PRAIRIE.  Only 4% of North America’s presettlement tallgrass prairie survives to this day, and 80% is located in Kansas.

Many issues threaten the tallgrass prairie landscape, and it was clear to those involved that something needed to be done. This something turned out to be the Tallgrass Legacy Alliance (TLA). The TLA was initiated as a partnership effort among local ranchers, agricultural and conservation organizations, and representatives from state and federal agencies including key initial support by the Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Yet credit for the success of the initiative needs to be given to the ranching families that have so willingly allowed the Partners Program into their homes and their lives. A level of trust that could surely be called friendship is what drives the TLA.

The TLA is proving to be a vehicle with which ideas and funding sources can get directly on the ground, taking concepts and dreams and turning them into habitat improvements. TLA's philosophy is, "If we are to save the Kansas tallgrass prairie, the first step will be to keep the ranchers on the landscape: everything else becomes secondary."

Agencies, individuals and organizations such as Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas Farm Bureau, The Nature Conservancy, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Wildlife Management Institute, and numerous others have all agreed that when they walk in the door to a TLA meeting, hats, egos and titles are hung at the door. All opinions are treated equally. The group agreed to discard those issues that appear unsolvable and work positively on those that appear solvable.

Goals are beginning to blend into reality. Collectively our goal is to do whatever possible to fiscally, socially and environmentally to preserve the ranching communities of Kansas.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners Program is working,
on the ground, for producers and the environment in the State of Kansas,"

Tom Moxley
Rancher and President of the Tallgrass Legacy Alliance