I was sad to read the news that the iconic elm tree near the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve main entrance was damaged during a recent storm.
My arborist friend Kevin Harrel once asked me if I had a favorite tree. While I don’t recall if I mentioned this particular elm tree, I’d have to say it would be very near the top of my list. It’s a huge enveloping specimen of an American elm (Ulmus americana). The park estimates the tree is close to 100 years old. That’s a long time of enduring the harsh wind and storms of the tallgrass prairie.
I’ve eaten many a meal under the cool shade of this tree before and after photographing at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in the Flint Hills near Strong City, Kansas. I’m hoping that the storm didn’t deal a fatal blow to the tree. I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in feeling that they lost an old friend should that be the outcome.
ABOVE: A large American elm tree provides shade at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve as a pickup truck passes by on Kansas State Highway 177 near the towns of Strong City and Cottonwood Falls. Highway 177, a National Scenic Byway, passes through the heart of the Flint Hills. Less than four percent of the original 140 million acres of tallgrass prairie remains in North America. Most of the remaining tallgrass prairie is in the Flint Hills in Kansas. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is the only unit of the National Park Service dedicated to the preservation of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is co-managed with The Nature Conservancy.
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