U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Division of Refuge Planning
Mountain-Prairie Region

Completed Plan Contacts

The Service completed this plan
in 2010.




Flint Hills Legacy
Conservation Area

c/o Flint Hills National
Wildlife Refuge
530 West Maple Avenue
Hartford, Kansas 66854


620 / 392 5553

Landowners interested in conservation easements may contact:

Flint Hills project leader
620 / 392 5553 extension 103


Service realty specialist
605 / 885 6357





Land Protection Plan

Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area



The Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area is a landscape-scale conservation strategy to help protect a unique and highly diverse area of the United States known as the Flint Hills tallgrass region in eastern Kansas.

  • Authorized in 2010.
  • Comprises a 3.3 million-acre area where the Service will acquire conservation easements on up to 1.1 million acres of private land from willing sellers.
  • Extends from the northern to the southern border in eastern Kansas. Covers part of 21 counties: Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Clay, Cowley, Dickinson, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Jackson, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Morris, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Washington, Woodson, and Waubansee.

The conservation area is important for maintaining the integrity of tallgrass-prairie wildlife habitat, stream water quality, and the rich agricultural heritage of the Flint Hills. The Service will protect grassland by working with willing landowners to purchase perpetual conservation easements.

The Service looks forward to playing a role in keeping working ranches on the landscape while conserving habitat for wildlife and providing unique tallgrass vistas for future generations of Americans to enjoy.  

Today, less than 4 percent of the once-vast tallgrass prairie remains, most (80 percent) of which lies within the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma. The Flint Hills contain about 90 native grass species and more than 500 forb species—bluestem, Indiangrass, and switchgrass are species often associated with this prairie landscape. Ranching has historically played a major role in preserving tallgrass prairie, and by extension conserving valuable fish and wildlife habitat, through grazing and prescribed fire.

Birds dependent on large, unfragmented tracts of prairie would benefit from the easement program. Benefiting species include greater prairie-chicken, Henslow’s sparrow, upland sandpiper, and northern harrier. Additionally, conservation of these areas would help protect the freshwater fish and mussels found in many of the prairie streams.

Photograph of Flint Hills landscape on cover of land protection plan.


The land protection plan sets the following guidance:

  • Base acquisition priorities for conservation easements on the threat of development, connectivity to other protected lands, and quality of habitat for wildlife that depend on grassland
  • Acquire conservation easements from willing sellers only; use no fee-title acquisition.
  • Closely cooperate with partners to ensure successful protection of wildlife habitat and natural resources.
  • Manage the easement program as part of the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge.

Easement contracts specify perpetual protection of habitat for trust species and limits on residential, industrial, and commercial development. Contracts prohibit alteration of the natural topography, conversion of native grassland to cropland, drainage of wetland, and establishment of game farms.

Easement land remains in private ownership. Therefore, property tax and invasive plant control remain the responsibility of the landowner, who also retains control of public access to the land. Contracts do not restrict grazing on easement land.


Land protection plan (LPP)
LPP 2010 (18 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Contents (PDF)
Chapter 1, Introduction and Project Description (4 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, Area Description and Resources (4 MB PDF)
Chapter 3, Threats to and Status of Resources (PDF)
Chapter 4, Project Implementation (4 MB PDF)
Appendixes (5 MB PDF)

Environmental assessment (EA)
EA 2010 (14 MB PDF)

By section, for faster download:
Contents (PDF)
Chapter 1, Purpose of and Need for Action (4 MB PDF)
Chapter 2, Alternatives, Including the Proposed Action (PDF)
Chapter 3, Affected Environment (4 MB PDF)
Chapter 4, Environmental Consequences (PDF)
Chapter 5, Coordination and Environmental Review (PDF)
Appendixes (5 MB PDF)

Draft EA and LPP
Draft EA and LPP 2010 (2 MB PDF)

Planning process documents
Fact sheet 2010 (PDF)
Fact sheet
2009 (PDF)