PEABODY—According to Susan Mayo of the newly formed Flint Hills Counterpoint, the tall grass prairie is "the most decimated ecosystem in North America."
That’s why the rural Peabody resident has teamed up with documentary filmmaker Cyan Meeks to form Flint Hills Counterpoint.
"The Flint Hills can latch onto that idea and what it means in their head," Mayo said. "It is one of the few places that has tall grass prairie. There is about 2 percent left of the tall grass prairie left in the world. It is a unique ecosystem. … The Flint Hills are beautiful."
Flint Hills Counterpoint focuses on 14 acres in rural Kansas, just north or Peabody, owned by Mayo. The project will focus on land restoration, while pulling in community leaders to experience the transition. A series of events are planned.
"About half of it wooded, and half is in brome (hay) right now," Mayo said. ".. Our goal is to make it more conducive for wildlife."
The project will focus on a riparian buffer zone, making sure there are the right kind of trees.
"We planted close to 300 new trees in the spring," Mayo said. "There is another area that will be a windbreak areas. We are in conversation with the wildlife department to put in native [plants]."
According to the Kansas Historical Society, The Flint Hills are perhaps the most well-known geologic areas in Kansas. Stretching from Marshall County in the north, to Cowley County in the south, this region is made of a series of gently sloping hills. The Flint Hills area has the most dense intact tallgrass prairie in North America. Created during the Permian Period, the flint or limestone, was difficult to plow and not as nutritious for plants. Buffalo and elk once were plentiful in the area, which proved excellent for ranching.
Specialists from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Kansas Forest Service will guide the reclamation process of the project and are providing 90 percent of the funding of the reclamation process.
The project just received a $50,000 Our Town grant from National Endowment for the Arts, one of 51 projects selected nationwide for funding.
The grant will support Flint Hills Counterpoint in an arts programming project formed in partnership with the rural Marion County communities of Peabody, Marion and Hillsboro to encourage the engagement, investigation and celebration of the tallgrass prairie.
The project will include two years of prairie bus, walking, and bike tours of natural springs, farms, wildflowers, and edibles interspersed with surprise art experiences including installations, collaborative music, dance and other performances by the community with guest artists.