This is the sixteenth diary in my Expanding the National Parks series. the previous diaries in the series are linked below
This week I'm in Kansas, famous for the Wizard of Oz, the Dust Bowl, and Jayhawks basketball. Kansas doesn't have much protected lands at the federal level-1.2%, good for 45th in the country, just ahead of Maine, and just behind Nebraska. Currently Kansas has 1 national preserve, 4 wildlife refuges and 5 historic sites and other NPS Units. I will propose giving Kansas its first national monuments.
This is the sixteenth diary in my Expanding the National Parks series. This week I'm in Kansas, famous for the Wizard of Oz, the Dust Bowl, and Jayhawks basketball. Kansas doesn't have much protected lands at the federal level-1.2%, good for 45th in the country, just ahead of Maine, and just behind Nebraska. Currently Kansas has 1 national preserve, 4 wildlife refuges and 5 historic sites and other NPS Units. I will propose giving Kansas its first national monuments.
Total Area 82 277 sq miles
Land Area 81 758 sq miles
Water Area 519 sq miles
Coastline 0 miles
* Flint Hills
Covering much of Kansas and stretching into Oklahoma, the Flint Hills ecoregion covers over 80000 miles and contains the largest remaining sections of tallgrass prairie in the Great Plains. unlike grasslands to the north, the area was not plowed over and converted to farmland. protecting this expanse with a monument will complement the four existing preserves, including the Flint Hills WR. Estimated Area 2 million acres - 3125 sq miles roughly twice the size of Rhode Island
* Cheyenne Bottoms
One of 29 Ramsar Wetlands in the US, and named as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas, the Bottoms currently covers 41000 acres roughly half of which is owned by the state and another sixth is owned by the Nature Conservancy. protecting the wetland as a monument will increase the number of visitors to the area and conserve the Bottoms for Future generations Estimated Area 41000 acres- about 64 sq miles
* Konza Prairie
One of 4 preserves in the Flint Hills Region, Konza covers nearly 9000 acres and is owned by the Nature Conservancy. naming it as a monument would ensure its permanent protection and extend protection to a larger area. estimated area 20000 acres
* Monument and Castle Rocks
named as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas in 2008, these formations were named as the first National natural Landmark in 1968. formed 80 million years ago and shaped over centuries by erosion, the rocks are popular tourist attractions. weathering at Castle Rock is accelerating due to visitors climbing on the formation, part of the structure collapsed during a thunderstorm in 2001. setting aside these formations as a monument will protect them for future generations to enjoy. estimated area 15000 acres
* Flint Hills Established 1966 Covers 18 463 acres
The second largest of Kansas' four wildlife refuges, Flint Hills protects portions of tallgrass prairie as well as provides habitat for migratory birds. the refuge is also manages the newly created Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area, which covers 3.3 million acres of the Flint Hills, with a third of that area- 1.1 million acres, being set aside in conservation easements.98 percent of this area is privately owned.
* Kirwin Established 1954 Covers 10 778 acres
The oldest refuge in the state, the refuge was created in conjunction with the building of Kirwin Dam. habitats in the refuge include tallgrass and shortgrass prairie,wetlands and croplands. over 300 species live in the refuge, including great Blue Herons, Interior Least Terns, and Double-crested Cormorants. visitors range from 40000-90000 a year.
* Marais des Cygnes Established 1992 Covers 7500 acres
The smallest and newest of Kansas' refuges, this refuge is named after the river that borders it in eastern Kansas. the refuge was set aside to protect bottomland hardwood forests. a third of the refuge is set aside as a sanctuary for wildlife and is closed to the public. over 300 species of animals can be found in the refuge.
* Quivara Established 1955 Covers 22 135 acres
the largest refuge in the state, Quivara was named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas in 2008. Named after a legendary city of gold, the refuge is an important stop on the Central Flyway. The refuge contains a iinland salt marsh unique to the area as well as sand dunes covered with vegetation. Quivara was declared a Ramsar Wetland in 2002.
* Tallgrass Prairie Established 1996 Covers 10 894 acres
One of the newer preserves in the country. Tallgrass Prairie protects some of the last intact areas of its namesake prairie in the country. efforts were made in the 1960s and 70s to create a national park to protect the prairie, which resulted in congress finally preserved the area in 1996 as a preserve, in cooperation with the nature Conservancy which owns most of the preserve, and has reintroduced bison to the area. nearly 18000 people visited the preserve in 2005.
HISTORIC SITES AND OTHER NPS UNITS-5
* Brown vs Board of Education NHS Established 1992 Covers 2 acres
Set aside to mark the 1954 Supreme Court Decision which found ' separate but equal' facilities for blacks to be unconstitutional. the site includes Monroe Elementary School, one of 4 facilities for black children in Topeka at the time of the ruling( the others were Buchanan, McKinley and Washington, Washington has since been torn down). nearly 17000 people visited the site in 2011.
* Cimarron NG Established 1960 Covers 108 176 acres
The largest protected area in the state, Cimarron is located close to the Colorado border, and is named after the river that flows through the grassland. Point of Rocks is an important landmark in the grassland and served as a landmark on the Sante Fe Trial. What makes up the Grassland today was largely abandoned by farmers during the Dust Bowl, and the government bought them out and restored the land to its previous state. the Grassland is managed by the Forest Service, and is not contiguous, but has several small parcels of land separate of the main area.
* Fort Larned NHS Established 1964 Covers 718 acres
Protects Fort Larned which was built to protect settlers using the Sante Fe trial from hostile local Indian tribes. the fort was decommissioned in 1878 and was bought by a rancher whose family maintained the property until 1966 when the NPS took over running it. the building are restored to period appearance and guided tours are regularly given. Over 31000 people visited in 2005.
* Fort Scott NHS Established 1978 Covers 17 acres
Named after General Winfield Scott, who served 53 years in the US Army and was the losing candidate to Millard Fillmore in the 1852 election, the fort lies near the Kansas-Missouri border, and saw action during the "Bleeding Kansas' period and Civil war, but was later abandoned, and was left to fall into ruin until the 1960s, when the nPS worked with the surrounding city of Fort Scott to preserve the remaining buildings. it was declared a historic site in 1978. 22000 people visited in 2007.
* Nicodemus NHS Established 1996 Coves 161 acres
Set aside to preserve the town of Nicodemus, which was established by blacks during Reconstruction. the town was never large, topping out at 700 residents in the 1880s. While the town still has residents today, the number fluctuates. 28000 people visited the site in 2005.
And there concludes my rundown of Kansas. Next Week, I'll be in Kentucky, home of Churchill Downs, Bluegrass Music and Mammoth cave. as always, Comments Input and feedback are welcome.