Laura Rose Clawson, (785) 233-4400
Topeka, KS The Nature Conservancy announced that for the first time in 40 years, the public will be able to visit a lesser-known nature preserve in the Flint Hills. They are asking for the public’s help naming the property.
The 2,188-acre nature preserve, near the small town of Cassoday, was first purchased by TNC in 1972 and was simply called the Flint Hills Tallgrass Preserve. At that time, TNC did not have any staff in Kansas so the preserve was closed the public and leased to a Kansas rancher for cattle grazing. Over the years, TNC has greatly increased it’s work in the state and particularly in the Flint Hills, but this preserve has always remained a tucked-away gem.
In preparation for establishing a trail system and welcoming visitors to explore the wonders of the tallgrass prairie, TNC is asking for the public’s help renaming the preserve.
“This property is not like Konza Prairie or Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. It has some really special features like the south fork of the Cottonwood River and plants we don’t commonly see at those other TNC preserves in the Flint Hills,” said Tony Capizzo, TNC’s Flint Hills Initiative Manager. “We’d like to honor this preserve’s unique identity with new name. We’re open to all suggestions.”
You can submit your naming ideas here until October 17, 2021. The preserve will officially open to the public by early 2022.
Conservation of the tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills is a global priority, says Capizzo, and connecting more people to the landscape will only help.
“The Flint Hills aren’t just iconic to Kansans. This region is the last large expanse of tallgrass prairie anywhere in the world. It’s been recognized for its ecological significance by TNC, the World Wildlife Fund, and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. We hope that by giving people even more opportunity to get out and experience the prairie with all their senses, they come away with a little more appreciation and willingness to help protect it.”
About the Preserve:
The Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is set among low rolling hills that cover layers of sandstone, flint and chert. The headwaters of the south fork of the Cottonwood River run through the preserve. With more than 500 different plant species, this preserve contains healthy populations of big bluestem, little bluestem, Indian grass, switch grass and other plants typical of the tallgrass prairie. The area where the trails will be established is not grazed by cattle, so the mix of plant species is much different that typically seen in the Flint Hills. It is home to grassland birds like greater prairie-chicken and Henslow’s sparrow which require a large and diverse area of healthy prairie for habitat.
Coyotes, deer and bobcats also roam this prairie and Topeka shiners, a small, endangered minnow, have been found in the river. Prior to European settlement, this was the traditional and ancestral territory of the Oceti Sakowin, Kaw, Osage and Kickapoo peoples.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.
In Kansas, The Nature Conservancy has protected nearly 200,000 acres of the state’s most ecologically important lands and waters, including five preserves open to the public. To learn more, visit http://www.nature.org/kansas.