Where the Rare is Commonplace
Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park protects the largest remaining tract of the unique Florida dry prairie ecosystem, one of the biologically richest grasslands in the world. Its 54,000 acres contain a mosaic of dry prairie, wet prairie, marshes, sloughs, cabbage palm and oak hammocks, flood plain—no less than 14 distinct natural communities —which support a vast and diverse array of flora and fauna, including a number of endangered or threatened species. It is one of the last places to find the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow, "perhaps the most endangered bird in the continental United States."
When most people think of prairie they think of the midwest—flat land, wagon trains, Indian attacks, and farms with acres upon acres of corn or wheat swaying gently in the breeze. Few conjure an image of dwarf palmetto and wiregrass stretching to the horizon, interrupted only by sparse hammocks of cabbage palm and small seasonal ponds. Yet this is prairie in Florida, shaped by the sea, maintained by frequent fire, and with its own history. A place where you can see an entire rainbow. This is the land made famous by author Patrick Smith in A Land Remembered.