"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tallgrass means tall


A visit to the spectacular Tallgrass Prairie Preseve in the middle of Osage County just north of Pawhuska gives a glimpse of what this country was like before fences and cattle. Thanks to the Nature Conservancy,http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/oklahoma/preserves/tallgrass.html this is the largest remnant of such prairie on earth, of about 10,000 acres.

Few roads, and bison roam free--a herd of better than 2,500...none of which we saw. Yes, there are still some oil wells and private patches of ground, but it's wild and free and the only sound is the wind.

You cross cattle, er, bison, guards to drive down the gravel roads and 8-foot fences keep them in.

The prairie grasses star the Big BlueStem, plus the Small Blue Stem, Switch grass and some others. Big Blue Stem reaches from 6 to 10 feet high, but the root system is deeper. It was once a complete ecosystem, but that is now extinct, although here and in the Flint Hills of Kansas just north of here, it survives.

 We got out of the car to walk a nature trail, neatly mowed, and were soon surrounded with grass over our heads.
To make sure we don't get lost

 

 How tall is tall grass? Here's Susan.
It's beautiful when backlit by the sun.
And there are quiet cool spaces with water and shade too.
Headquarters is at the original ranchsite after a 20-minute drive down the gravel roads.
Check this site for a map http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/oklahoma/files/tallgrass_map.pdf

1 comment:

  1. I love the Tallgrass Preserve. I ventured their late last Spring and was lucky enough to see all sorts of buffalo.

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