White Paper April, 2010
Tallgrass prairies, one of North America’s most endangered ecosystems, evolved with fire, drought, and native grazers (bison and elk). In Missouri, over 99% of the original tallgrass prairie has been converted mainly to row-crop fields and tall fescue pastures. Concomitant with these landscape changes have been dramatic declines in the state endangered greater prairie-chicken and other grassland birds. Grassland ecologists in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Iowa have been experimenting with a management practice known as patch-burn grazing with either cattle or bison since the late 1980s as a grazing system that benefits wildlife by emulating the presettlement disturbance regime.