Monday, July 12, 2010

Konza Prairie

This photo was taken a couple of summers ago at the Konza Prairie, just south of Manhattan, Kansas.  The Konza Prairie is about 8,600 acres (about 13 square miles) of unplowed tallgrass prairie, located in the Flint Hills.  It is owned by the Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University.  Kansas State uses it for research in their biology department, and it is also part of the Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTER).  The LTER is a collection of nearly 2000 scientists and students doing research in 26 different locations in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Antarctica.  A lot of the land is off-limits to the public and is used by the students, but there are several hiking trails available for everyone's use.  The longest trail covers 7 miles.  On the day I took this photo Lyndy, Evan and I walked for probably two miles.  From the parking lot we crossed a creek on a bridge and then walked through a wooded area.  Eventually we moved out of the trees and out onto the wide open prairie. 

There is a very nicely maintained walking trail.  There have been over 30 different mammals observed in the Konza, and over 200 different species of birds.  The open prairie land here is exactly what it was like here a couple hundred years ago when the only people around were Native Americans.  There is very little of this original tallgrass prairie left in the country.  Over 600 different plant species can be found here.  The most common are big bluestem, little bluestem, Indiangrass, and switchgrass.  These grasses grow to a height of around 3 feet.  We didn't see them, but there is a herd of 300 bison roaming around.  If you want to do some not too strenuous hiking through some of the last remaining areas of Kansas as it used to be, you might consider the Konza Prairie.

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