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.