Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary Contact: John Wright
For Immediate Release: April 7, 2005 202-208-6416
Interior Department Highlights Partnerships and Land Transfer for Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

COTTONWOOD FALLS, Kan.-Several leaders representing federal and state governments and the private sector participated in a ceremony today to celebrate a special partnership and the securing of thousands of acres for the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Among them were Director of the Interior Department's Office of External and Intergovernmental Affairs, Kit Kimball, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, former Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker, representatives of The Nature Conservancy and local community leaders.

"The Flint Hills have always had a special importance to Kansans and to me. We must preserve this land, so we can tell the stories of the people who lived here and who continue to make this home," said Governor Sebelius. "But the preserve and the visitors who come to see this beautiful place also will have an important role in the local economy. Our rural areas can't rely on agriculture alone to produce jobs, and we've made the Flint Hills our number one rural development priority," she said.

Kimball discussed the importance of public-private partnerships in protecting and preserving America's heritage and important landscapes. She praised the special partnership between the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, National Park Trust and the Kansas Park Trust, and the recent transfer of land that will benefit Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and the local communities.

"The transfer of the land from the Park Trust to The Nature Conservancy will preserve the uniqueness of the park for future generations," Kimball said. "We are not only protecting the land and creatures of the native tallgrass prairie, but we're also preserving the legacies of the native peoples who lived on the land and the legacies of settlers and ranchers who followed."

Kimball noted that on February 17, 2005, Kansas Park Trust purchased the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve from the National Park Trust. This action represents the first of the two important transactions. In March 2005, the Kansas Park Trust conveyed ownership to the Nature Conservancy. The National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy will work cooperatively in preserving and managing the land. The Kansas Park Trust will continue to have a major role as a partner in promoting tourism and special events at the Preserve.

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was created November 1996. It protects 10,894 acres and is the only unit of the National Park System dedicated the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. The Preserve is a remnant of the 142 million acres of tallgrass prairie that once covered the American heartland.




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