Welcome to Flint Hills National
east central Kansas, Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge lies in the broad,
flat, Neosho River Valley. The Refuge is
located in the tallgrass prairie region of the country, the Refuge is named for
the gently rolling, fossil-studded hills found to the west of the Refuge. These hills were laid down when seas
blanketed the area 250 million years.
The Neosho and Cottonwood Rivers provide most of the water for the Refuge,
which is located at the upstream end of John Redmond Reservoir. Refuge Habitats include wetlands, bottomland
hardwood forests, grasslands, riparian areas, and agricultural lands.
the Neosho River floodplain was covered with hundreds of shallow wetlands in
the springtime. As spring progressed
into summer, these wetlands dried, producing (“moist soil”) plants to
grow. When fall rains recharge the
wetlands, the wetlands provide both food and shelter to migrating waterfowl.
these natural wetlands have been lost throughout the river floodplain because
of agriculture and other developments.
To mimic the natural wet and dry cycles on the Refuge, the staff
actively mange over 2,000 acres of restored wetland habitat through the use of
pumps, levees, and water control structures
Moist Soil plants in Wetland
of tallgrass prairie habitats can be found on the Refuge- cordgrass prairie,
upland prairie, and savanna. Cordgrass
prairie is found in low, wet areas and is composed mainly of prairie cordgrass,
buttonbush, eastern grama grass, and common ironweed. Upland prairie occurs on drier sites above
the flood plain and contains many well-know tallgrass prairie plants, including
big bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, and a large variety of wildflower
species. Savanna habitat is a mixture of
widely scattered trees, prairie grasses, and wildflowers.
While only a
handful of native prairie area remains on the Refuge, these habitats are
important to wildlife. For these reason
the Refuge staff maintain and restore prairie habitats by using prescribed fire
and native seed plantings, and by controlling non-native species. The non-native plants are removed because
they are not a good food source for wildlife, and they rob sunlight and
nutrients from the native species.
Prescribed Fire on Grassland
are confined primarily to areas along the Neosho River and its tributaries,
commonly referred to as riparian areas.
Trees that you might find in these riparian woodlands include: bur oak,
pecan, black walnut, American elm, hackberry, green ash, and Kentucky
areas provide water and shelter for wildlife, including bobcats, white-tailed
deer, pileated woodpeckers, wild turkeys, and many species of warblers. To protect the riparian areas along the
Neosho River, the Refuge staff work closely with Refuge cooperative farmers to
reduce sediment run-off into the river.
encourage the desirable trees that were historically present in the woodlands
by conduction prescribed fires that run fire through the understory, thereby, thinning
out the less desirable, shade tolerant, fire-sensitive species. In some places, fire is used in conjunction
with mechanical thinning to meet habitat objectives.
Mechanical thinning treatment