Tallgrass Prairie Preserve celebrates 25 years

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital
Tallgrass Prairie Preserve celebrates 25 years

The 25th Anniversary Celebration of The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve was held last Friday at the conservation facility north of Pawhuska.

Hosted by the Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma, the “Party on the Prairie” event marked the quarter of a century that has passed since it successfully initiated restoration of this 39,000-acre piece of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem in 1989.

Serving as master of ceremonies for the celebration was Harvey Payne, the community relations head and emeritus director of Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Opening remarks were provided by Mike Fuhr, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Oklahoma Chapter, and Rob McKim, the Conservancy’s Central Division director.

Guest speakers for the special occassion were: Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear; Keenan Barnard, a member of the family who formerly owned the property, and Osage County rancher Frederick Drummond, a founding trustee of The Nature Conservancy’s Oklahoma Chapter.

Additional guest speakers included: James Ronda, emeritus professor of history at the University of Tulsa (TU); Jenk Jones, the former editor of the Tulsa Tribune; Dr. Kerry L. Sublette, the Sarkeys professor of Environmental Engineering at the TU, and Bob Hamilton, the program’s director.

A reception and open house followed the afternoon program, which was presented at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve Research Station. There also was a tour of the ranch’s historic bunkhouse, naturalist-led trail hikes and a bison ecology driving tour.

Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is the largest protected remnant of the ecosystem which originally stretched from Texas to Minnesota, spanning portions of 14 states. Due to urban sprawl and conversion to cropland, less than 10 percent of this landscape survives today.

Look for more photographs by Jack Buzbee of this special event elsewhere in this week’s edition.