Time to take pride in protecting our prairies 

Cattle graze on a north central Colorado prairie, about 30 miles south of Cheyenne, Wyoming, under puffy cloud cover. Farming and ranching during this period of climate change presents a number of challenges, but a group of agricultural experts have provided tips to overcome the times. (Photo courtesy of David Augustine, Agricultural Research Service.)

Kansans take pride in many aspects of our state, often dependent on where you grew up or what school you went to. Ranchland Trust of Kansas’s board of directors are no exception to that but what we are most mindful of is our state’s prairie resource, especially the largest remnant of the Tall Grass Prairie Biome in the world. We are blessed to have this resource throughout the Flint Hills. Our grasslands are more than just a pretty place to see, as they provide a renowned grazing resource that provides food for Kansans and others outside our state. If you have ever been to some of the more heated planning and zoning meetings in Kansas, you know just how hard Kansans fight to protect our native grasslands throughout our state. But are you aware that, unlike many of our fellow Great Plains states, we have no state grassland protection programs? 

The most treasured ecological asset of our state, providing both tourism and agricultural revenue, has been neglected for too long. An initiative has been started to create a state conservation fund, with one of the intents being to fund the work needed to strengthen and conserve our grasslands. Providing this type of funding would be an historic action that seems amazing if it hadn’t already happened. Ranchland Trust of Kansas feels that this is the type of government program that we would all like to see our personal tax dollars going towards. Legislators in Topeka should grab this opportunity to make a lasting investment in our Kansas prairies. Join us in asking our state legislators to establish a dedicated state conservation fund to put our money where our hearts are, in the working grasslands, parks and preserves that make Kansas great. 

Barth Crouch is chair of the Ranchland Trust of Kansas board of directors.