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563 PRAIRIE MOSAIC
The 39,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is the largest protected tract of tallgrass prairie in the world. The preserve contains less than 10% of America's original tallgrass prairie system, which once spanned portions of 14 states from Texas to Minnesota. Owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy since 1989, the preserve is maintained through controlled burns and grazing, the same natural forces that created the prairies. Some 2,500 bison roam free, grazing on prairie grasses while leaving plains sunflowers and other nongrass prairie species alone. Each year roughly one third of various portions of grassland is involved in a "patch burn." This successful combination of grazing and burning results in a shaggy, shifting prairie mosaic with some 750 species of plants, which support a diverse animal community above and below ground. TNC Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Oklahoma.