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Rock Solid in Kansas

November 1, 2016

Rock: Here we are in Kansas, in quite a lovely spot: the Spring Hill Prairie Preserve. Let’s get started!

The Kansas prairie isn’t as dramatic-looking at some spots in the USA, but it’s an important ecosystem. And it’s almost extinct. That’s why Spring Hill will soon be designated a national park. Because our natural history is worth saving.

If you think all grass is the same, look more closely at the prairie. There’s bluestem grass, switch grass, Indian grass, all different kinds. According to Native American healers, each grass has a different medicinal quality. And they ought to know, they’ve been here a lot longer than you or I.

For the last hundred years, Kansas has been covered with wheat fields. But before that it was almost all prairie, rolling fields of tall grass. That grass fed millions of buffalo, but now both the buffalo and the grass are almost gone. Prairie preserves like this one at Spring Hill are the last refuge for plant and animal alike. So treat them kindly.

Spring Hill used to be a rich man’s ranch. You can tell by this house. Steven Jones built this stone mansion out in the prairie lands, after he made his fortune in banking.

Most of Kansas has rich, deep soil. While here at Spring Hill, it’s rich, but shallow. Too shallow to plow in some places. So while the rest of the state turned into wheat fields, a little piece of prairie survived here. A link with the natural past.

Just as wheat replaced the wild grass in Kansas, farm animals like cattle and sheep replaced the original wild animals. Without preserves like this one, there’d be no place for native prairie animals like buffalo, deer, foxes, raccoons, coyotes… the list goes on.



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