National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Report NRR/HTLN/NRR—2011/346 / NPS 031/107299, April 2011, xiii, 61 pages

Published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Natural Resource Program Center, Fort Collins, Colorado in conjunction with the Kansas Biological Survey, KARS, NatureServe, and the Nature Conservancy

USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Also available at:

Please cite this publication as:

Kindscher, K., H. Kilroy, J. Delisle, Q. Long, H. Loring, K. Dobbs, and J. Drake. 2011. Vegetation mapping and classification of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve: Project report. Natural Resource Report NRR/HTLN/NRR—2011/346. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government work. Public domain material.


Executive Summary

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (TAPR) encompasses 10,894 acres in eastern Kansas, just north of Strong City. This park unit was created on November 12, 1996 and is the first to protect a nationally significant example of the once vast tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Of the 400,000 square miles of tallgrass prairie that once covered the North American continent, less than four percent remains, primarily in the Flint Hills. The park unit is primarily rocky upland prairies and deep-soiled prairies in the lowlands. It also contains some wet prairie ravines, riparian forests and some former cropland and restored prairie.

A three-year program was initiated to complete the task of mapping and classifying the vegetation at TAPR. The Kansas Biological Survey (KBS) in conjunction with NatureServe developed a vegetation classification using the National Vegetation Classification System and produced a digital vegetation map. To classify the vegetation, plots located throughout TAPR were sampled during the summer of 2008. Additional data were obtained from vegetation plots sampled by the Inventory & Monitoring program in 2006. Analysis of the plot data by KBS produced 12 map units (eight vegetated and four land-use) which are directly matched to corresponding plant associations and land-use classes. Descriptions and a field key for all plant communities of TAPR are included in this report. Draft maps were printed, field tested, reviewed and revised. Accuracy assessment (AA) data points were collected on 112 data points in 2009 by KBS and used to verify the map’s accuracy.

Includes a Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve species list.