K-State Research and Extension News
May 15, 2013
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‘Preserving the Tallgrass Prairie’ Video Now Available Online

MANHATTAN, Kan. – A 30-minute feature on preserving Kansas’ tallgrass prairie that recently aired on public television is now being offered through Kansas State University.

‘Preserving the Tallgrass Prairie’ details the state’s work to preserve what remains of America’s tallgrass prairie, which once stretched from Texas to the Canadian border. Today, just 4 percent of that original prairie remains, most of it in Kansas.

The feature originally aired April 14 on TV station KCPT. It was produced by K-State Research and Extension and available online through the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange, and on the Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management website.

In the video, John Briggs, director of the Konza Prairie Biological Station near Manhattan, said, “We want to preserve the tallgrass prairie. We have one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world sitting right here in our backyard in the Flint Hills.  “It looks large, but less than 4 percent of the original prairie remains.”

Prescribed fires are the key management technique in preserving the prairie. Fire prevents trees and other woody species from overtaking the tallgrass prairie, and provides stable habitat for wildlife and higher quality forage for grazing animals.

“Without fire, you lose the ecosystem,” said Carol Blocksome, a K-State Research and Extension agronomist who helped to coordinate the university-produced video.

“I hope (viewers) learn to appreciate the role of fire in grassland ecosystems,” she added, “and the role of fire in removing woody species that compromise the range, improving wildlife habitat and forage quality.”

The feature also discusses the state’s efforts to manage smoke associated with burning the prairie, including the health concerns of those in urban areas of Kansas and adjacent states. It is supported by research on burning and smoke management that has been conducted at Kansas State University since the 1920s.

“A large thank you to all the people who helped; there were a lot of people interviewed, and a lot of volunteer time went into producing this,” Blocksome said. “This is a unique product.”


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Pat Melgares
K-State Research & Extension News

For more information, contact Carol Blocksome, blocksom@ksu.edu, 785-532-0416