The Tallgrass Legacy Alliance began in 1999 when Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologists began to "think big, think ecosystems." This came at a time when the Kansas Partners Program was just finishing a needs assessment of the state's various habitats, done primarily through The Nature Conservancy and Kansas Biological Survey.
The assessment showed clearly that all of the resource issues and environmental needs facing Kansas, one stood bodly forward--the TALLGRASS PRAIRIE. Only 4% of North America's presettlement tallgrass prairie survives to this day, and 80% is located in Kansas.
Many issues threaten the tallgrass prairie landscape, and it was clear to those involved that something needed to be done. This something turned out to be the Tallgrass Legacy Alliance (TLA). The TLA was initiated as a partnership effort among local ranchers, agricultural and conservation organizations, and representatives from state and federal agencies including key initial support by the Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Yet credit for the success of the initiative needs to be given to the ranching families that have so willingly allowed the Partners Program into their homes and their lives. A level of trust that could surely be called "friendship" is what drives the TLA.
The TLA is proving to be a vehicle with which ideas and funding sources can get directly on the ground, taking concepts and dreams and turning them into habitat improvements. TLA's philosophy is, "If we are to save the Kansas tallgrass prairie, the first step will be to keep the ranchers on the landscape: everything else becomes secondary."
Agencies, individuals and organizations such as the Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas Farm Bureau, The Nature Conservancy, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Wildlife Management Institute, and numerous others have all agreed that when they walk in the door to a TLA meeting, hats, egos and titles are hung at the door. All opinions are treated equally. The group agreed to discard those issues that appear to be unsolvable and work positively on those that appear solvable.
Goals are beginning to blend into reality. Collectively, our goal is to do whatever possible to fiscally, socially and environmentally to preserve the ranching communities of Kansas.