Thanks to whomever posted the link about Kansas
prairie restoration. When I was President of Burroughs Audubon in the 1970s, the
creation of a Tallgrass Prairie National Park or Monument in Kansas was one of
our major conservation causes. There were three sites under consideration, each
about 50-60,000 acres. Unfortunately, proponents of the park had not taken
the time and trouble to cultivate landowner support, and the owners, fearing
condemnation of their lands and that Bison would communivate Brucellosis to
their cattle, successfully banded together via an organization entitled
"Grassroots" to oppose the park. That was a shame because Tallgrass
Prairie was said to be the only ecosystem in the United States not represented
in the national park system.
The only important early result of our efforts
(and those of other organizations promoting the park) was the acquisition of the
8,000 acre Konza Prairie tract by the Nature Conservancy and its subsequent
donation to Kansas State University for the study of tallgrass prairie ecology.
Eventually, however, local opposition died down,
and, in 2005, the Nature Conservancy acquired at a nearly 11,000 acre
tract in Chase County, KS, which is being operated cooperatively with the
National Park Service.
In 1989, the Nature Conservancy acquired 39,000
acres in Northeast Oklahoma, which is known as the "Oklahoma Tallgrass
Prairie Preserve." Also used for
research projects, it may be the closet thing to what the original proponents of
a Tallgrass Prairie National Park had in mind.
My grand vision has yet to be achieved, however.
I envisioned a private "Tallgrass Prairie Museum" next to a sizable public "Tall
Grass National Monument," which would do for the tallgrass ecosystem what the
famous "Sonora Desert Museum" and adjacent "Saguaro National Monument" near
Tucson, AZ have done to educate people about the Sonora desert
The Flint Hills of central Kansas and northern
Oklahoma is the only area where large tracts of virgin tallgrass prairie
still exist, and the establishment of reserves and preserves free of wind farms
may be the best hope for the survival of sizeable populations of Greater Prairie
Chickens. Though not exactly representative of the deep soil tallgrass
ecosystem of states like Iowa and Illinois (and parts of Missouri) where
virgin tallgrass prairie once covered large tracts, it is the best example
remaining. (Plowing was much less feasible because the presence of flint chert
near the surface inhibited it.) It is a subject that should interest all of