GSTDKhanna: Welcome to "Parks & People-Live
Events." Our guest tonight is Steve Miller, Superintendent of the newly established
"Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve"
The Superintendent is typing to us from the Preserve
located in Strong City, Kansas. He will share his insights on the General Management
Planning activities (GMP), and will respond to our questions.
Thanks for joining us tonight Superintendent Miller, we
thank you for taking the time to speak to us tonight
Sup Miller: It's my pleasure.
GSTDKhanna: How is the weather?
Sup Miller: It's the calm before the storm. We're
expecting severe thunderstorms later tonight
GSTDKhanna: After we are done with this event!!
GSTDKhanna: Okay, here is our first question to
start....Why is the TPNP part of the National Park System?
Sup Miller: It's the only unit set aside in the
National Park System to preserve, protect and interpret the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.
Only 1-2% of the original tallgrass prairie that once covered North America remains today.
Most of this prairie is located within the Flint Hills Region in Kansas.
LClarkAVA: How large is the Park, Steve?
Sup Miller: The park is 10,894 acres.
SHawleyNPT: Is TPNP the only location in the US
where tallgrass can be found?
Sup Miller: No, the Konza Prairie Research area ran
by Kansas State University, over 8,000 acres owned by the Nature Conservancy, lies
approximately 50 miles to the north of us.In addition, the Nature Conservancy also owns
and manages the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma, just to name two other large
tallgrass prairie areas.
MSuls41389: When you arrived at Tallgrass, were the
resources of the site what you expected them to be?
Sup Miller: The resource is beyond my expectations.
The more we learn about the preserve, the more unique and special it becomes.
Nizlady: How is the caretaking of the Preserve being
handled to date, being so large and with such a limited start budget?
Sup Miller: The preserve is being managed in
partnership with the landowner, the National Park Trust. At this point, interpretive and
visitor service programs are limited.
Slidetaker: What is the difference between a
preserve and nat'l park or monument?
Sup Miller: There are many different categories for
units in the National Park System. A preserve is set aside because of a unique natural
resource. Most of the monuments are smaller areas created by presidential proclamation for
some unique feature, such as Devil's Tower.
LClarkAVA: What kind of facilities does TPNP offer?
Sup Miller: The ranch headquarters area is open
daily from 9 - 4. The 1 3/4 mile self-guiding nature trail is open daily from sunrise to
sunset. Ranger led bus tours are available three times a day and an educational bookstore
is open daily.
GSTDKhanna: We are just joined onstage by Paul
Pritchard, President of the National Park Trust
PritchardP: Steve, it is great to see a park pioneer
on line. Thanks for being there
Nizlady: At one time many Kansans were against the
Preserve, are you getting their support now?
Sup Miller: Even though there are still differing
ideas about the preserve, the fact that the preserve is part of the National Park System
Nizlady: Good, I'm very glad to hear that.
Damcabe2: Has there been or will there be an
Official opening of the Park?
Sup Miller: Good question McGellan TXa dedication
was held last May.
MSuls41389: Does the Tallgrass Prairie NP contain a
complete ecosystem within the present boundary with the currently existing conditions?
Sup Miller: Please clarify what you mean by a
PritchardP: Now that the preserve is open, I hope
you will explain why it is such a unique park, and the GMP process.
Sup Miller: Currently, the General Management Plan
which is now underway will set the long-term vision of what the preserve will become over
the next 10 - 15 years.
Pgoosem: What do the bus tours cover? How extensive
are they? Can the same places be reached by hiking?
Sup Miller: The bus tour is a 7 mile ranger-led
round trip covering the three main interpretive themes of the park: the natural history of
the tallgrass prairie, the legacy of ranching in the Flint Hills and the cultural history
of native americans. Until the park service planning process is complete, hiking is only
available on the 1 3/4 mile wind nature trail. The future recreational activities and
their extent will be determined as part of the planning process.
Damcabe2: Is there Horseback riding or will there
MSuls41389: One of the purposes of the Preserve is
to preserve an example of the Tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Is the area of the park large
enough to contain all the contributing facets, and are the cultural resources contributing
impacts which compromise the natural resources?
Sup Miller: This complex question is not easily
answered, but most of the natural components exist within the preserve.
GSTDBridgt: I was going to ask about horses, but
Damcabe beat me to it =) So, what makes the tallgrass prairie so rare?
Sup Miller: Some people feel the tallgrass prairie
is the most endangered ecosystem in the world because of human activity. We would
certainly invite all of our audience to visit us at the preserve or on our web site to see
first-hand it's intricate beauty.
ContreeNC: Hello Steve
SchugtSOS: What interested you in Tallgrass in the
Sup Miller: The tallgrass interested me because it
is under-appreciated and not a well-understood natural system.
Pgoosem: The bus tours seem to cover wonderful
areas. Do you stop and allow some indepth time to "feel" the areas?
Sup Miller: Yes, there are 3 stops where the
visitors get out and experience the tallgrass prairie ecosystem
Mendy8: With regard to the planning process and the
GMP that is currently out for comment, do you have interest from throughout the country,
or is interest more regional in nature?
PritchardP: I know the NPS would like more national
input into the GMP. The TRUST does too.
Sup Miller: We are receiving a lot of written
comments mostly from Kansas, but we encourage people throughout the nation to comment. The
questions and comment sheets are posted on the NPS page at http://www.nps.gov/tapr/home.htm
GSTDKhanna: We have provided a link to the Tallgrass
Prairie National Preserve web site in this Parks Forum.
MSuls41389: Which creatures would be considered
"native ungulates" at the Preserve?
Sup Miller: Primarily bison but also pronghorn, elk,
& white tailed deer.
Nizlady: It's also an important part of our heritage
IdeaMan 2: What sort of wildlife is in that area and
preserving the habitat helps what species?
Sup Miller: Currently, white-tailed deer, turkey,
bobcats, red fox, coyotes, prairie chickens. We could go on. So far we have identified 275
species of plants, 150 birds, and over 20 species of mammals.
MSuls41389: Would the Preserve function as a working
ranch/farm under any of the Alternatives
Sup Miller: Alternative B focuses on the cultural
resources which include the ranching/farming period. In addition, the general public, the
advisory committee, and interested organizations are providing input throughout the
Pgoosem: What % of the 150 birds are permanent or
nesting? Is there good stock of praire chickens? Thanks for all info.
Sup Miller: We are in the process of conducting a
survey of all the bird species within the preserve which we hope will answer your
question. According to the Kansas Wildlife and Parks, Prairie Chicken and Upland Plover
populations are increasing in this area.
MSuls41389: Would ranching/farming activities be
managed by NPS or a partner?
Sup Miller: We have the opportunity to have either
agency or perhaps some combination of both.
MSuls41389: How many Postwar buildings and
facilities exist on site? Is there a date or event which signals a change to late 20th
Century farming practices?
Sup Miller: A few of the buildings date to the
postwar period. We are about to begin a historic resource study which will hopefully
answer your question.
Pgoosem: So glad this area preserved, have been
watching progress. Would bus tours be available in mid-to-late Sept?
Sup Miller: Thanks for the support!!! Bus tours are
available until November 1.You may make an advanced reservation by calling 316-273-8494.
LClarkAVA: Speaking as a city-gal who doesn't know
much about farming, are there crops there or just the cattle?
Sup Miller: Historically, there were such crops as
corn, wheat, fruit trees, etc. Currently, a few small areas on the southern edge of the
preserve are used for agricultural purposes.
Shantee100: Oh that sounds nice :o)
MSuls41389: Alternative A states that there is no
guarantee NPT would retain ownership of the Preserve and raises the question of NPT
management philosophy. Has NPT stated a position regarding the future of the Preserve?
PritchardP: I am learning from your comments and
questions. NPT is working with the NPS for TPNP'S full potential. We are supporters of the
GMP process which lets the people determine mgmt process. Our first priority is
preservation of natural and cultural resources.
Pgoosem: Am confused with talk of farming in the
future?? Did not farming destroy the original tall grasses? Perhaps am reading to quickly
and misinterpreting? DO let's PRESERVE this tiny portion of the great prairies that were
Sup Miller: Historically, a small area of the
preserve's bottomland was farmed. In the future, it could possibly be used to recreate
those historic farming practices.
PritchardP: With support of the AVA and others, we
will PRESERVE this park unit. We are lucky to have Steve. Volunteer groups at the local
level are crucial. The prairie has and this preserve will always be under assault unless
concerned folks speak up. That is the GMP process.
LClarkAVA: We ARE lucky to have Steve who is
obviously so dedicated to preserving this unique area.
Sup Miller: PritchardP & LClarkAVA: Thanks for
your confidence, we are committed to do the best land management possible for THIS and
Pgoosem: PPrichard and Steve: you are both
reassuring, glad I was misinterpreting. Thanks much
MSuls41389: Why is the NPS restricted from acquiring
fee ownership of any land in the Preserve?
PritchardP: Unfortunately when the NPT offered to
donate it, Sec. Babbitt could not accept it.
Sup Miller: Under the legislation the NPS can own up
to 180 acres in the preserve, but manage and operate the rest of the preserve through a
cooperative agreement with the National Park Trust.
PritchardP: And NPT wants the NPS to manage it all,
even if we have to own it.
Damcabe2: I see you have a massive Barn, is there
anything in it?
Sup Miller: The 110 x 60 foot three story limestone
barn contains many pieces of farming and ranching equipment from the last 100 yrs of
operation. We are currently using the barn as our interim visitor center for the summer
MSuls41389: How long has this site been under
consideration as a Tallgrass Prairie Park?
Sup Miller: This particular site has been under
consideration for at least the last 10 years.
PritchardP: Thank Judge Lee Fowler, Ron Klataske and
others for bring this property to the NPT's attention.
Damcabe2: Thanks sounds great!!
Nizlady: Is that barn as high ceiling as it looks?
Sup Miller: The ceilings are at least 20 ft. high.
MSuls41389: Several years ago, a proposal for a
Tallgrass Prairie National Park envisioned a park with several auto loops-a Blue Ridge
Prairie Parkway. Was that proposal envisioned for this site?
Sup Miller: No, not within the site. Some people
feel that there could eventually be a parkway that would tie in a several state prairie
Sup Miller: We invite everyone to visit both the NPS
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve homepage and the National Park Trust TPNP homepage at http://www.parktrust.org/zbar.html
Nizlady: looked like more than just being a barn
PritchardP: Hey folks, go see it. TPNP is
incredible. The NPS and NPT need your voice, loudly heard.
Nizlady: What kind of volunteer work can be done to
assist at TPNP?
Sup Miller:Volunteers can help with all type of
activities such as research, interpretive, and resource management.
SHawleyNPT: What is the best way to make our voices
PritchardP: I hope everyone reads the NPS material
on the website and speaks up. that would be best.
Pgoosem: You spoke of bottom land, what river system
supports the area?
Sup Miller: There are 2 creeks, Fox and Palmer,
which traverse parts of the preserve in addition to numerous springs and seeps.
LClarkAVA: Do volunteers contact you direct?
Sup Miller: Sure!! Anyone may write to: Tallgrass
Prairie National Preserve, PO Box 585, Cottonwood Falls, KS 66845 or call 316-273-6034.
GSTDKhanna: We are extremely grateful to Steve
Miller and the crew at the Preserve for making this live event possible (Angie Hummel,
LClarkAVA: Steve, thanks for chatting with us-
thanks to Paul, Davinder, and NPT for making the arrangements.
Nizlady: Was great to learn from you Supt Miller.
Thank you for your time
IdeaMan 2: Thanks Sup Miller...this was great and
PritchardP: Thanks, Steve, Davinder, and all the
great folks at the TPNP.
SHawleyNPT: Yes - thanks Sup Miller
GSTDKhanna: The scheduled time for our guest is
coming to an end now
Sup Miller: We appreciate this unique opportunity to
visit with people from all over the country.
GSTDKhanna: Thanks everyone for spending the time
Pgoosem: Plan to see you there and say thanks in
Sup Miller: We look forward to meeting all of you in
person at the preserve.
IdeaMan 2: This was very informative. Thanks
LClarkAVA: Bye from Houston
GSTDKhanna: Remember the Keyword on AOL is PARKS
Nizlady: Goodnight from Yosemite
GSTDKhanna: Goodnight from the Nation's Capital.
PritchardP: Thanks, Steve, from Arlington, VA
MSuls41389: Goodbye from New York
Nizlady: Thank you Davinder
Damcabe2: Thanks for all the good information you
have on line of the Tallgrass Prairie.
Sup Miller: Goodnight from where the grass grows
Pgoosem: And this is Nashville, TN
Nizlady: Will be in Kansas soon. Will have to see
Damcabe2: Goodnight from McAllen Texas
GSTDKhanna: Thanks, Ada Piro (Slidetaker) for
staying up so late for us! :)
Slidetaker: You're welcome Davinder. Goodnight from
SHawleyNPT: Goodnight from Falls Church VA.