Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge
Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge

Prairie Heritage, Inc., is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation, dedicated to the preservation of the prairie and its stories. It makes book awards, sponsors workshops, encourages research, organizes history talks, and once a year, together with Juneteenth, leads a wildflower walk on the tall grass prairie.

Prairie Heritage, Inc., is based at Bird Runner Wildlife Refuge, a 320-acre prairie preserve in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Margy Stewart & Ron Young are the caretaker-proprietors. Their half-section of land is part of 5 million acres of native prairie still remaining in the Flint Hills-an ecologically significant expanse of prairie. Their preserve contains 250 acres of native upland prairie and 60 acres of bottomland prairie restoration.

Because the deep-soiled bottomlands were plowed immediately after the settlers arrived, there is not much historical record of what the native plant community was like before it was replaced by crops. Therefore, the seed mixes used in the restorations are the result of the best guesses of experienced prairie people around the state.

Restoring Bottomland Prairie
The restorations at Bird Runner are also being guided by the principle of "forbs first." Previous restorationists have learned that over time grasses in restorations push out the forbs (aka wildflowers, or broad-leaved plants), leading to a reduction in biodiversity. This imbalance does not occur in native prairie. So in the Bird Runner restorations, forbs are planted first, giving them a head start. We'll see what the results turn out to be!

Margy & Ron record the steps in the bottomland restorations at the Prairie Blog in entries entitled "Restoring Bottomland Prairie."

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