The Osage Plains are a physiographic section of the larger Central Lowland province, which in turn is part of the larger Interior Plains physiographic division.The area is sometimes called the Lower Plains, North Central Plains,or Rolling Plains. The Osage Plains, covering west-central Missouri, the southeastern third of Kansas, most of central Oklahoma, and extending into north-central Texas, is the southernmost of three tallgrass prairie physiographic areas. It grades into savanna and woodland to the east and south, and into shorter, mixed-grass prairie to the west. The Osage Plains consist of three subregions. The Osage Plains proper occupy the northeast segment. Although sharply demarcated from the Ozark uplift, the plains are nonetheless a transitional area across which the boundary between prairie and woodland has shifted over time. In the central portion of the physiographic area lies the second subregion, the Flint Hills, commonly called "the Osage" in Oklahoma. This large remnant core of native tallgrass prairie is a rocky rolling terrain that runs from north to south across Kansas and extends into Oklahoma. To the west and south of these hills are the Blackland Prairies and Cross Timbers. This vegetatively complex region of intermixed prairie and scrubby juniper-mesquite woodland extends into north-central Texas. Bluestem prairies and oak-dominated savannas and woodlands characterize the natural vegetation in the Cross Timbers. Much of the area has been converted to agriculture, although expanses of oak forest and woodland are still scattered throughout the eastern portion of the subregion.
Birds in the Osage Plains include the threatened greater prairie-chicken, Henslow's sparrow, dickcissel, loggerhead shrike, field sparrow, scissor-tailed flycatcher, Bell's vireo, painted bunting, and Harris's sparrow. Wildfire suppression, overgrazing, and the spread of exotic plants are the factors most negatively affecting priority bird habitat. The area now is managed almost exclusively for beef production with annual burns and intensive grazing practices that provide little of the habitat structure required to support many priority bird species.
Historically, fire, drought, and plains bison were dominant ecological forces and had great influences on the vegetation from local to landscape scales. The Osage Plains and Flint Hills were dominated historically by tallgrass prairie with scattered groves of blackjack oak ( Quercus marilandica ) in the uplands and along drainages. A variety of wetland types, including wet prairie, marshes, and northern floodplain forests occurred along larger rivers. Today, much of the land in the Osage Plains is planted to corn and soybeans, or has been converted to non-native grasses for pasture and hay. Large expanses of tallgrass prairie remain in the Flint Hills, where relief is greater than in the Osage Plains subregion and the land less suitable for cropping.
The Osage Plains are underlain by soft shales with interbedded sandstones and limestones of late Mississippian to Pennsylvanian ages. Some of the rocks prevalent in the Osage Plains are Mississippian limestone, limestone shale, Ordovician dolomite, and Pennsylvanian coal. Also, clay and shale are found within the Pennsylvanian bedrock.
The area contained two major mining areas. The biggest was the Tri-State lead and zinc region, consisting of nearly 2,000 sq mi (5,200 km2). This was the largest concentration of zinc deposits anywhere in the world. Most mining sites have closed, mainly due to health and other environmental issues. More than $1 billion worth of lead and zinc were extracted from the area during the active mining days. The other major mining was for bituminous coal. Due to air quality standards, this region's coal is in low demand due to its high sulfur content.
Missouri, a state near the geographical center of the United States, has three distinct physiographic divisions:
The Ozarks, also known as the Ozark Mountains or Ozark Plateau, is a physiographic region in the U.S. states of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and the extreme southeastern corner of Kansas. The Ozarks cover a significant portion of northern Arkansas and most of the southern half of Missouri, extending from Interstate 40 in central Arkansas to Interstate 70 in central Missouri.
The Boston Mountains is a Level III ecoregion designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Part of the Ozark Mountains, the Boston Mountains are a deeply dissected plateau. The ecoregion is steeper than the adjacent Springfield Plateau to the north, and bordered on the south by the Arkansas Valley. The Oklahoma portion of the range is locally referred to as the Cookson Hills.
The tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem native to central North America. Natural and anthropogenic fire, as well as grazing by large mammals, were historically agents of periodic disturbance, which regulates tree encroachment, recycles nutrients to the soil, and catalyzes some seed dispersal and germination processes. Prior to widespread use of the steel plow, which enabled large scale conversion to agricultural land use, tallgrass prairies extended throughout the American Midwest and smaller portions of southern central Canada, from the transitional ecotones out of eastern North American forests, west to a climatic threshold based on precipitation and soils, to the southern reaches of the Flint Hills in Oklahoma, to a transition into forest in Manitoba.
An oak savanna is a type of savanna-or lightly forested grassland- where oaks are the dominant trees, the term oakery or woodlands is also used commonly, though the former is more prevalent when referencing the Mediterranean area. These savannas were maintained historically through wildfires set by lightning, humans, grazing, low precipitation, and/or poor soil.
The Flint Hills, historically known as Bluestem Pastures or Blue Stem Hills, are a region in eastern Kansas and north-central Oklahoma named for the abundant residual flint eroded from the bedrock that lies near or at the surface. It consists of a band of hills stretching from Kansas to Oklahoma, extending from Marshall and Washington Counties in the north to Cowley County, Kansas and Kay and Osage Counties in Oklahoma in the south, to Geary and Shawnee Counties west to east. Oklahomans generally refer to the same geologic formation as the Osage Hills or "the Osage."
Green Country, sometimes referred to as Northeast Oklahoma, is the northeastern portion of the U.S. state of Oklahoma, which lies west of the northern half of Arkansas, the southwestern corner of Missouri, and south of Kansas.
The Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, in Osage County, Oklahoma near Foraker, Oklahoma, is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. It is protected as the largest tract of remaining tallgrass prairie in the world. The preserve contains 39,000 acres (160 km2) owned by the Conservancy and another 6,000 acres (24 km2) leased in what was the original tallgrass region of the Great Plains that stretched from Texas to Manitoba.
The Dissected Till Plains are physiographic sections of the Central Lowlands province, which in turn is part of the Interior Plains physiographic division of the United States, located in southern and western Iowa, northeastern Kansas, the southwestern corner of Minnesota, northern Missouri, eastern Nebraska, and southeastern South Dakota.
The Smoky Hills are an upland region of hills in the central Great Plains of North America. They are located in the Midwestern United States, encompassing north-central Kansas and a small portion of south-central Nebraska.
The term Cross Timbers, also known as Ecoregion 29, Central Oklahoma/Texas Plains, is used to describe a strip of land in the United States that runs from southeastern Kansas across Central Oklahoma to Central Texas. Made up of a mix of prairie, savanna, and woodland, it forms part of the boundary between the more heavily forested eastern country and the almost treeless Great Plains, and also marks the western habitat limit of many mammals and insects.
Southeast Kansas is a region of the U.S. state of Kansas. It can be roughly defined by Woodson County in the northwest, Bourbon County in the northeast, Cherokee County in the southeast, and Montgomery County in the southwest. Geographically it is dominated by a broad rolling landscape located between the Flint Hills to the west and includes the Ozarks to the southeast. Some notable towns there include Pittsburg, Parsons, Coffeyville, Independence, Chanute, Fort Scott, and Iola.
The Osage Hills is a hilly area in Oklahoma, commonly known as The Osage. The name refers to the broad rolling hills and rolling tallgrass prairie and Cross Timbers encompassing Osage County and surrounding areas, including portions of Mayes, Tulsa, Washington and Kay Counties. The Osage is the southern extension of the Flint Hills of Kansas.
The Geology of Kansas encompasses the geologic history of the US state of Kansas and the present-day rock and soil that is exposed there. Rock that crops out in Kansas was formed during the Phanerozoic eon, which consists of three geologic eras: the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic. Paleozoic rocks at the surface in Kansas are primarily from the Mississippian, Pennsylvanian and Permian periods.
The Geography of Oklahoma encompasses terrain and ecosystems ranging from arid plains to subtropical forests and mountains. Oklahoma contains 10 distinct ecological regions, more per square mile than in any other state by a wide margin. It is situated in the Great Plains and U.S. Interior Highlands region near the geographical center of the 48 contiguous states. Usually considered part of the South Central United States, Oklahoma is bounded on the east by Arkansas and Missouri, on the north by Kansas, on the northwest by Colorado, on the far west by New Mexico, and on the south and near-west by Texas.
The Ozark Highlands is a Level III ecoregion designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in four U.S. states. Most of the region is within Missouri, with a part in Arkansas and small sections in Oklahoma and Kansas. It is the largest subdivision of the region known as the Ozark Mountains, less rugged in comparison to the Boston Mountains in Arkansas, the highest part of the Ozarks.
Knob Noster State Park is a public recreation area covering 3,934 acres (1,592 ha) in Johnson County, Missouri, in the United States. The state park bears the name of the nearby town of Knob Noster, which itself is named for one of two small hills or "knobs" that rise up in an otherwise flat section of Missouri. Noster is a Latin adjective meaning "our"—therefore, Knob Noster translates as "our hill." A local Indian belief stated that the hills were "raised up as monuments to slain warriors." The park offers year-round camping, hiking, and fishing and is managed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The central forest–grasslands transition is a prairie ecoregion of the central United States, an ecotone between eastern forests and the North American Great Plains. It is a classification defined by the World Wildlife Fund.
The Arkansas Valley is a Level III ecoregion designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. It parallels the Arkansas River between the flat plains of western Oklahoma and the Arkansas Delta, dividing the Ozarks and the Ouachita Mountains with the broad valleys created by the river's floodplain, occasionally interrupted by low hills, scattered ridges, and mountains. In Arkansas, the region is often known as the Arkansas River Valley, especially when describing the history and culture of the region.
The geology of South Dakota began to form more than 2.5 billion years ago in the Archean eon of the Precambrian. Igneous crystalline basement rock continued to emplace through the Proterozoic, interspersed with sediments and volcanic materials. Large limestone and shale deposits formed during the Paleozoic, during prevalent shallow marine conditions, followed by red beds during terrestrial conditions in the Triassic. The Western Interior Seaway flooded the region, creating vast shale, chalk and coal beds in the Cretaceous as the Laramide orogeny began to form the Rocky Mountains. The Black Hills were uplifted in the early Cenozoic, followed by long-running periods of erosion, sediment deposition and volcanic ash fall, forming the Badlands and storing marine and mammal fossils. Much of the state's landscape was reworked during several phases of glaciation in the Pleistocene. South Dakota has extensive mineral resources in the Black Hills and some oil and gas extraction in the Williston Basin. The Homestake Mine, active until 2002, was a major gold mine that reached up to 8000 feet underground and is now used for dark matter and neutrino research.