- Associated Press - Saturday, August 29, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - A group of students and teachers plan to restore a piece of native prairie that’s been left untouched on the University of Kansas campus since 1932 to its former glory.

The area, called Prairie Acre, is actually a one-third acre of native prairie. Some groups previously attempted to restore it but this year’s project is designed to help the prairie long into the future and perhaps even expand it, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (https://bit.ly/1i7K9wQ).

The project is led by Kelly Kindscher of the Kansas Biological Survey. The university’s Center for Sustainability has started recruiting volunteers to restore the land, publicize the project and raise money. The supporters believe the prairie is important because of the history, ecological significance and educational opportunities it provides.

It began during the summer, when students in the environmental studies department found non-native and invasive species throughout the prairie. Volunteers will begin removing those plants and collecting seeds of native plants from other prairies this fall, with plans to begin planting in the spring.

Because the National Park Service has said prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet, the Prairie Acre project gives students a rare hands-on education, said Bob Hagen, a professor of environmental studies.



“We now recognize that the whole campus can be part of the classroom,” Hagen said. “Having someplace so close where you can learn about biodiversity and ecology is a real asset.”

Another aim of the restoration is to preserve the prairie’s history, including its connection to Kansas’ pioneer days.

In the future, environmental studies classes will help maintain the prairie. Supporters also hope the community and other university departments will help keep the project sustainable.

“We’re hoping to put it back on the map,” Kindscher said.

Courtney Masterson, a graduate student and project member, said the art and architecture departments are among other departments interested in using the space.

“I love the idea of having that escape on campus,” Masterson said. “(The prairie) is truly a peaceful place for me, and I look forward to that being something students can enjoy as well.”

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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