Preserving Kansas' prairie

Wichita EagleApril 22, 2011 

Imagine Kansas without a prairie. Without pure running creeks or streams. Without wildlife — prairie chickens, swift foxes, ferruginous hawks, black-footed ferrets and prairie dogs.

It could happen, biologists say, and already is in many parts of the state.

"The prairie is the foundation of our natural heritage," said Ron Klataske, executive director of Audubon of Kansas.

"If we continue to turn the Flint Hills and Smoky Hills into 10-acre ranchettes and vast expanses of massive industrial wind turbine complexes, we lose a lot of grassland species.

"Already, it is almost like there is a slow moving tsunami from Wichita on east."

On the 41st annual Earth Day, some Kansans are examining the state's most threatened areas.

Of the tallgrass prairies that once covered much of the United States, only 4 percent remains untouched.

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