The Konza Prairie

A couple weeks ago, Harland and I took a trip down to the Konza Prairie. Owned by the Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University, it is 13 square miles of prairie that has never been turned by a plow because it is too rocky. This means that the native grasses and wildflowers have always been there. How it looks now, is how it looked hundreds of years ago. So, if you’re like me, you don’t have to stand on a hilltop wondering to yourself, “I wonder how this land looked 100 years ago?”, because it looked exactly the same.

All that’s required of your imagination is herds of bison and elk and Native American hunting parties on horseback on their annual hunting trips over the prairie. Actually, there is a herd of bison here, but we didn’t see them on this trip. This section of prairie is located within the largest remaining area of unplowed tallgrass prairie in North America. Tallgrass prairie once covered 140 million acres in North America, but today less than 4% of it remains, and most of that is located in Kansas.

This was my first visit to Konza, but I’ve visited another section of tallgrass prairie at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve about 60 miles south.

Pausing for breath upon reaching a hilltop and looking back down the trail, all you hear is the wind in the grass and prairie birds singing their timeless songs. Cellphones, computers, and blaring TVs are all things in distant memory.

A deer steps gingerly out onto the prairie from a wooded stream,

butterflies and bees tour the endless supply of wildflowers,

and a horned lizard scurries out from underfoot as you walk a trail.

Later, at the edge of the prairie, you sit on a hillside overlooking farm fields in the valley below waiting for the sun to set.

The prairie draws you in, you become part of it, and then you don’t want to leave.

Back home, you dream about your time there and think about when you can next visit the prairie, a place that feels strangely like home, even if you’ve never been there before.

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———–>Monday: Catclaw sensitive briar, butterfly milkweed, and showy evening primrose are just a few of the wildflowers of the prairie.  Come back to see those and more.

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