Grass and mountains

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge lies at a vegetational crossroads along the eastern edge of the southern Great Plains region.

The 59,020 acres or refuge lands include approximately 20,000 acres of open mixed grass prairie, with the remainder being forest and rock outcroppings. The grasslands are dominated by little bluestem, with Indian grass, big bluestem, switchgrass, sideoats grama, hairy grama, and blue grama having a large percentage of the overall species composition. The forested areas are dominated by post oak, blackjack oak and eastern red cedar.

Habitat management generally consists of the use of prescribed fire to increase diversity and palatability of grass species, to encourage forb growth, and to decrease succession of woody species into the grasslands. The herds of bison, elk, deer, and longhorn are the primary grazers and browsers that utilize the vegetation. Several monitoring techniques are used to evaluate habitat status including grassland utilization and frequency checks, conducted in January and July respectively, and interior woodland and edge transects. Monitoring is constantly conducted to ensure the survival of the endangered black-capped vireo.

Because of the tremendous diversity of species found on the Wichitas, opportunities for university research abound. Contact the refuge biologist for information.


Learn More:

      Geology of the Wichitas