When I was a child growing up in Wichita, my Girl Scout Troop took a driving trip through the Kansas Flint Hills. I still remember how, as a 9 year old child, I was mesmerized by the vastness of those rolling hills, by the hypnotic waving of the tall prairie grasses, and the openness of the blue sky that stretched almost to forever. It was the first time in my young life that I had seen the pure beauty of undeveloped land.
After I left school I ended up in California, where I stayed for over 40 years. I loved it there, but when it came time to leave, the Flint Hills called me back. I moved to Lawrence ten years ago and was thrilled to almost immediately learn that there is an organization called The Kansas Land Trust that is devoted to protecting the beauty of those hills and that open, undeveloped space I had fallen in love with as a child.
I have been a devoted supporter of the Kansas Land Trust all these years and have included the Land Trust in my estate plans. Having watched in California as millions of acres of beautiful land has been taken over by so-called growth, my goal is to keep development in the Flint Hills at bay. The last thing I ever want to see in the Flint Hills is a string of McDonalds or Holiday Inns or any other commercial or residential ventures that will contribute to the desecration of these sacred lands.
As it stands now, the Kansas Land Trust has preserved and is holding in perpetuity over33,000 acres of treasured prairie, woodland, farm and ranch land in and around the Flint Hills. The preservation of these acres is made possible by the generous donations of people who love the Flint Hill and want to see them preserved forever. Thirty-three thousand acres is a start, but there is still a long way to go.
If you are reading this mailing, there is a good chance that you, too, love the Flint Hills and perhaps have supported the efforts to preserve them. I urge you to start and continue that support. The Flint Hills can’t protect themselves. It’s up to us to make sure these beautiful lands are preserved for us and our children and grandchildren to enjoy forever.
I plan to continue to support the Kansas Land Trust for years to come. I hope you will, too.
byElaine St James, KLT volunteer
Elaine St James visiting one of KLT's conserved properties with Rob Herrington, landowner in Douglas County.