Grasslands are the landscape of America’s heartland. Waving grasses as far as the eye can see, majestic American bison, vibrant wildflowers, and native songbirds all come to mind when we picture these iconic lands. Grasslands are a part of our natural heritage and they provide important resources. Deep-rooted prairie plants anchor soil, sequester carbon, reduce flooding, and secure freshwater.
Most prairies were converted for agriculture and ranching; today, tallgrass prairies are among the most endangered habitat types on Earth. The Nature Conservancy is working to protect and restore our remaining prairies and to expand grassland habitat for the benefit of both people and nature.
The Conservancy works with neighboring landowners, finding ways to meet conservation goals and the needs of working farms and ranches. We restore and protect prairie remnants to support native species, demonstrate how conservation can improve the health of working lands, and help farmers and ranchers use conservation practices effectively.
At Dunn Ranch Prairie in the Grand River Grasslands, the Conservancy has restored a fully functioning tallgrass prairie ecosystem. The success of our work can be seen when the restored prairie remains green even during extreme drought (see photo above), when native songbirds take flight, when reintroduced minnows successfully reproduce, and when the bison herd thunders across the landscape. A recent study gave Dunn Ranch Prairie the highest bird-friendliness score out of thirty public properties surveyed.
By the Numbers
< 1: Percent of native tallgrass prairie left in Missouri
5,114: Acres protected in the Grand River Grasslands
70,000: Acres in the Grand River Grasslands - we're working with farmers and ranchers in this expansive landscape to conserve Missouri prairies
> 200: School children who visited the Conservancy’s new bison herd this year
12: Ongoing research studies at Dunn Ranch Prairie, looking at topics ranging from pollinator health to the grazing habitats of bison to the effects of fire
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