The Flint hills - Our Place
The Flint Hills are the LAST STAND OF THE TALLGRASS PRAIRIE*
- Tallgrass prairie is the most altered ecosystem in North America
- Only 4% remains of the original tallgrass prairie (shown in green on map)
- 96% of the tallgrass prairie has been plowed or developed
- 2/3 of remaining tallgrass prairie is in the Flint Hills
- The Flint Hills are the largest expanse of tallgrass prairie left in North America
Click here for FULL-size PDF of the Flint Hills Map Exhibit-Elementary Version (shown at left) created by Flint Hills Map & Education Program a project of the Flint Hills Discovery Center Fdn)
FLINT HILLS ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS:
- Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve - 11,000 beautiful acres of public access & educational resources
- Flint Hills Learning Center - part of the Flint Hills Discovery Center - interactive and interpretive exhibits that tell the story of the Flint Hills
- Symphony in the Flint Hills - annual outdoor event building awareness of the Flint Hills through music and education - see digital versions of their annual Field Journals - like an "encyclopedia" of the Flint Hills
- Pioneer Bluffs - Center for Flint Hills Ranching Heritage - venue with classic restored barn on historic ranch - dedicated to exploring past and present in Flint Hills ranching
- Konza Prairie - 3,500 acres with public access trails and extensive education and research on tallgrass prairie
- Ranchland Trust of Kansas and The Nature Conservancy in Kansas - manage conservation easements for ranchers committed to keeping their land in native prairie and protected from development
Site Renewables Right - provides mapping to encourage development of renewable energy in appropriate locations - while preserving rare areas of remaining biodiversity such as the Flint Hills
NATIVE PEOPLE - find Flint Hills-region native studies resources for students and all ages at:
TALLGRASS PRAIRIE AND FIRE*
- Periodic “prescribed” burning is necessary to maintain tallgrass prairie. Because vulnerable growth points of warm season grasses are below the soil’s surface, they quickly recover from spring burning and moderate grazing.
- In contrast, the growth points of woody invasive species are high on the plants, so fire retards their growth.
- Fires ignited by lightning and Native Americans prevented trees and brush from overtaking the prairie.
- Today, ranchers continue to use fire to improve forage quality and keep trees and shrubs in check - without the use of chemicals.
- Enjoy a lovely video of Flames in the Flint Hills - a public education event on burning which occurred for several years at the Flying W Ranch, where Tallgrass Express performed
COWBOY & COWGIRL CULTURE*
- The Flint Hills cowboy and cowgirl are hard-working professionals and enduring symbols of the West.
- Fixing fence, burning pastures, putting out salt, counting cattle, doctoring sick animals, and gathering herds to ship, they often work on horseback in remote places of great beauty and enjoy telling stories of their adventures.
- Whether land-owning ranchers, custom-grazing pasture-men, or day help, they choose their classic leather boots, belts, chaps, and saddles with great pride.
- See books by Jim Hoy: Flint Hills Cowboys, The Flint Hills, My Flint Hills - Reminiscences
CATTLE RANCHING & BEEF PRODUCTION*
- Unlike most agriculture that replaces natural vegetation with domestic crops requiring fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, Flint Hills beef production depends on conserving the native tallgrass prairie ecosystem.
- Over 500,000 yearling steers & heifers graze Apr. to Sept. coming in weighing 500-700 lbs. and leaving 250-300 lbs. heavier, gaining 2-3 lbs. a day!
- Along with year-round cow-calf herds, this adds up to over a million head of cattle each year.
- Enjoy numerous photos of cowboys, cowgirls, and ranches in Kansas Ranches Showcase from Pioneer Bluffs
BEAUTY – ART & RECREATION*
- The Flint Hills’ rare, unspoiled horizons inspire imaginations of artists and writers. Painters flock to the area in all seasons setting up on site (en plein air) to capture its beauty.
- Photographers shoot landscapes, prairie fires, and portraits of wildflowers and cowboys.
- While songwriters and poets share the mystical wonder of the hills, other visitors enjoy hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, bird watching fishing, hunting, picnicking, camping, sunset-watching, and star-gazing truly dark skies.
- Buttonwood Art Space each fall sponsors Visions of the Flint Hills to benefit Friends of the Konza. Symphony in the Flint Hills also sponsors an annual Prairie Art Exhibit & Auction.
- Good ranchers are also conservationists—preserving the native prairie, preventing soil erosion, and keeping streams clean.
- They sustainably manage stocking rates to avoid overgrazing, and also fight invasive species such as Sericea Lespedeza.
- They maintain biodiversity in their grasses, forbs, and legumes, optimizing both plant production and profitability.
- The native prairie needs no fertilizers or pesticides, and its massive root systems grip the soil, preventing erosion.
EARTH CYCLES - ROCK, WATER, NITROGEN & CARBON
- Learn how these four earth cycles created our beautiful Flint Hills - and enjoy an artist's beautiful rendering of these processes - in the Flint Hills Map Exhibit - Middle School version
*Much of the above info is from the Flint Hills Map Exhibit - (High school/College version- click here for full-size PDF) - created by the Flint Hills Map & Education Program - a project of Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation