online book
Book Cover to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
Cover Page


Table of Contents


A Grassland
Preservation Ethic

The Pottawatomie County Park

Reconsidering the
Flint Hills Options

Kansas Flint Hills
v. Cherokee Strip

Kansans Divide:
The Winn Bills

The Osage Prairie
National Preserve

The Spring Hill
Z Bar Ranch

H.R. 2369

The "Kassebaum Commission"



Note on Sources


Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Legislative History, 1920-1996


Without exception, everyone who was involved in the legislative effort credits Sen. Nancy Kassebaum as the key to success. She, in turn, points out that others, particularly Dan Glickman, Bob Dole, and Pat Roberts played equally critical roles; and Mike Horak reflectively observes that, in the final years, no one really did anything different from those who had been fighting fifty years for a tallgrass prairie park or preserve. Kassebaum, however, "saw this as a real opportunity to do something special for the State of Kansas," and consequently never thought of giving up. She "wanted to see if it was feasible to acquire [the ranch] privately" and she saw that the NPS had the ability to interpret the preserve professionally, and "she was pleased that a conservation group was involved in the project." [18]

The result is a public-private partnership that places land management responsibility in the collective hands of interests that embrace fundamentally different views on the nature of land stewardship. On the one hand, there are those who are philosophically inclined to equate good stewardship with land ownership by an entity created to serve the greater public good. On the other, there are those who see no inherent contradiction between good land stewardship and land use for private economic benefit. Even so, all interests are finally and positively committed to working through these differences in order to create a place that protects an important grassland ecosystem and interprets the complex evolution of land use in the Flint Hills.

According to NPS landscape architect John Sowl, the legislative solution that various cooperating entities must now implement reflects "a real effort on the part of the NPS and other groups to try and get some answers up front and identify some concerns and to try and include those in the planning aspects, so that we can be sensitive to those concerns and needs and yet sensitive to the needs of the cultural and natural resources."[184] Still, Senator Kassebaum points out that "as we work through the management plan... I think we are all beginning to realize that it's terribly important how these partnerships are put together. It isn't as easy as it might look on paper." [185] While the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve can become a model for successful public-private partnerships in the national park system, the general management plan must address land use issues on which there are contrasting, and potentially divisive, points of view, such as the question of whether to reintroduce bison. Additionally, an unretired mortgage on the property presents land ownership issues that must be resolved. For these reasons, Kassebaum emphasizes that the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is "still a work in progress."


Last Modified: Sun, October 28, 2001 5:00 pm PDT
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