Oklahoma Prairie Country
~Home Page of Van Vives~
Welcome to my Home Page! You will find interesting facts and
information on this site pertaining to nature, conservation, tall grass
prairies, prairie wild flowers, and the American bison. There will also
be information about the pioneers of the west, cowboys, desperadoes,
Native Americans, ranchers, and early oil barons. Most of these topics
will pertain particularly to the state of Oklahoma, and especially to
northeast Oklahoma. You will soon notice that much of what is presented
on this web site is influenced by The Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass
Prairie, located about 15 miles north of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, which is owned and managed by the The Nature Conservancy, is located in northeastern Oklahoma, near Pawhuska. It consists of about 40,000 acres of rolling hills at the southern end of the Flint Hills. From atop one of the hills one can view a spectacular panorama of colorful wild flowers and tall bluestem grass and wild rye waving in the breezes. Over two thousand American bison grazing on the lush grasses transports one to a time many years ago when the prairies were teaming with bison and the Native Americans of the Osage tribe, mounted on horseback, rode across the hills and valleys.
When this great country began there was an estimated 142 million acres of tallgrass prairie extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Now less than 10% remains, and most of that is scattered in small land holdings. We are fortunate to have the largest contiguous managed acreage of tallgrass prairie here in Oklahoma. The Nature Conservancy, which owns it, is dedicated to restoring it to its original prairie ecosystem. The public is invited to visit The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, with its more than 2000 bison (buffalo), and learn about the conservation efforts being introduced by the Conservancy and the many research projects being conducted by our Oklahoma universities. You can learn more by visiting the other pages on this web site.
In the southwest part of the preserve among the blackjack oaks lies the deserted cabin of John Joseph Mathews. In December of 2014 the Nature Conservancy purchased 320 acres from the Mathews' family including the historic cabin and grave site of John Joseph Mathews. He lived at this rustic cabin for many years and did most of his writing there. It is the Nature Conservancy's hope that the cabin can be restored and someday have limited visitation by the public. For further information on this very interesting member of the Osage Indian Tribe see "John Joseph Mathews" in the "Miscellaneous" section.
The Osage Indian Tribe owns the sub-surface mineral rights of all of the Osage County, including that of the Prairie Preserve. That is why you will find numerous oil wells on the preserve. In 2014 and 2015 there has been renewed interest in oil well drilling. The Nature Conservancy has no control over this, therefore there have been twelve new wells drilled on the preserve in the past year. Such activity has a negative effect on trying to conserve the area as it once was. Drilling activity necessitates new roads, electrical high-lines, truck and tanker traffic. The Nature Conservancy tries to work with the oil companies to minimize the negative effect on wildlife and nature. Nearby wind farms also have a negative effect on nature. The Greater Prairie Chicken tends to stay away from high vertical structures and some birds will inevitably be killed by the wind blades.
Preserve is open 24/7
Information Center is open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Information Center is closed for the winter from December to February
Oklahoma Chapter of The Nature Conservancy