Letters to the Editor

Event effects

June 14, 2011


With attacks on the cultural climate of Kansas, it is very difficult for me to write this letter, but I feel I must.

I’ve been working on restoring a stone building in the Flint Hills out past Alma. About three weeks ago, I noticed a road grader and a line of dump trucks filled with gravel working on making a road through the prairie. I learned this road was the entryway to the one-night Symphony in the Flint Hills celebration.

I was irate that for one night’s entertainment, this stretch of native prairie was destroyed.

Ironically, I was given tickets to the celebration. I went to see for myself if this was the only damage to the prairie. Needless to say, it was only the beginning. There also were huge tents where the grass was completely flattened.

I finally asked a cowboy astride his horse, who had been providing the appropriate background for Copland’s music, thinking he could give me the straight scoop. He said the first year the flattened areas came back in weeds that they sprayed with herbicides, killing everything, and then reseeded. The cowboy assured me the gravel road had no chance to be restored.

I found it interesting that I finally found something I could agree with our governor on: that the tallgrass prairie needs to be preserved.

I would hope the Kansas City Symphony and the event sponsors take a hard look at the ecological damage before continuing this annual “celebration” in the Flint Hills.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

Thanks Karl.

I'm with you. Obviously I trust your observation.

Jeannie Merritt 6 years, 8 months ago

Actually Karl your comments are a joke. Here is a tip for you: go look at the symphony sites of two, three, four etc. years ago and you won't find a trace of the event at those places. The symphony site is rotated to a new place each year so not to damage the environment. Try some research next time before posting a bunch of junk that you don't know about.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

Despite your protestations, according to Mr. Ramberg's research, there likely is some permanent damage, even if somewhat isolated and hard to detect.

The road in particular would seem to be likely to create permanent damage.

Rather than using a new site every year, perhaps it would be better to have a few sites, say a half a dozen, and rotate them each year. That way the isolated permanent damage isn't repeated on an annual basis in ever more locations, while the rest of the grounds it's held on have ample time to recover between events.

pace 6 years, 8 months ago

thanks Mr. Ramberg, Yours was a good letter and thought provoking.. I don't dismiss your observations as I know you understand stone and landscape far better than most.

Clark Coan 6 years, 8 months ago

The fact is the road causes wildlife habitat fragmentation in the native tallgrass prairie as do roads to wind turbines and oil wells.

Terry Sexton 6 years, 8 months ago

I was on the road for the event. There wasn't anything permanently damaged. If you could see it for yourself, you would realize that the road doesn't fragment wildlife nor did it's construction cause permanent damage. In fact, it looked pretty darn useful to me.

Change can be good, even in the Flint Hills. Besides, if you can't fix some flattened grass & a gravel road, then you're not really trying.

The folks that own this site are aware of their stewardship. They are doing a fine job and it's nice of them to share.

weeslicket 6 years, 8 months ago

from rockchalker52: Change can be good, even in the Flint Hills. Besides, if you can't fix some flattened grass & a gravel road, then you're not really trying.


lmb 6 years, 8 months ago

Sounds like the symphony did exactly what they purport to do--raise awareness about the importance of the prairie.

Has anyone actually contacted someone who can give an educated answer about the impacts on the land? (As opposed to a random cowboy only assumed to have any authority or insight.) Who has talked to the landowner? Landowners from past symphony sites? This has been going on a while--do we know how the land recovered or must we all be content to accept hippy-Lawrencian conjecture as fact?

I am intrigued by the concerns the letter writer brought up, but there is--as of yet--no reason to believe the situation is as dire as implied. Somebody call an environmental group, the parks department, etc. Get the answers there before instigating a boycott.

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