History and Background

What we’re trying to accomplish.

Remnant Prairies is a work in progress. It started out as a generalized “community web site” used by the developer, Stan Kaufman, to manage his family’s prairie in Kansas. As we added new functionality to support measurement and documentation of what grows in our prairies, the focus of Remnant Prairies has shifted to providing these online information tools to others with the hope that it will enable more people to protect and preserve their bits of the original prairie.


Remnant Prairies arises out of two primary biological objectives:

  1. Optimize management of remnant prairies for maximal biodiversity and ecological health
  2. Reconnect isolated prairie remnants through “genetic corridors” created by appropriate roadside management practices

We hope to reach these objectives by these strategies:

  1. Provide innovative online tools to identify, assess, and track remnant prairies
  2. Provide a community for remnant prairie landowners and managers
  3. Collect and communicate local best practice guidelines for land management issues (like control of invasives, etc)
  4. Mobilize a potent advocacy community that can interact with officials regarding roadside management standards and other public lands issues

In short, the goal for Remnant Prairies is to couple the data management aspects of eBird with the organizational and collaborative tools of Yahoo Groups, the event planning features of Meetup, and the advocacy impact of MoveOn in order to protect and preserve what remains of the original prairie — the prairie remnants.


At this point, Remnant Prairies is primarily an experiment performed by the developer, a technoprairie geek who develops this sort of site professionally and also manages 160 acres of family prairie back in Kansas. At some point — if this takes off — the formation of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation may be useful, particularly if we need to mobilize resources for advocacy efforts. We certainly would not ignore any potential commercial possibilities, too, if an unexpected market for access to these online tools develops.


This site has benefited immeasurably from discussions and input from a wide variety of other prairie enthusiasts. Here they are in alphabetical order, along with a bit of information about what they do:

  • Tom Annesse: former board member of California Native Grasslands Association and president, Yerba Buena Chapter, California Native Plant Society; now a prairie dude in Iowa
  • Iralee Barnard: board member of the Kansas Native Plant Society who works with the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
  • Vic Claassen: manager of 160 acre farm in central Kansas and research soil scientist at UC Davis
  • Pauline Drobney: Land Management and Research Demonstration Biologist at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City, IA
  • Ron Fredrickson: large-scale rancher/farmer in Osage County, Kansas
  • Craig Freeman: multiple roles with the Kansas Biological Survey, Kansas Natural History Inventory, and the RL McGregor Herbarium at Kansas University
  • Brad Guhr: lead of the Prairie Window Project at the Dyck Arboretum in Hesston, Kansas
  • Bruce Hamilton: Associate Executive Director of the Sierra Club and head of the Resilient Habitats Project
  • Jeff Hansen: former president of the Kansas Native Plant Society and native plant consultant
  • Dennis Kaufman: co-manager of 160 acre farm in Osage County, Kansas
  • Lorraine Kaufman: co-manager of 160 acre farm in Osage County, Kansas
  • Stan Kaufman: co-manager of 160 acre farm in Osage County, Kansas, and developer of this web site
  • Kelly Kindscher: associate scientist at Kansas Biological Survey
  • Jim Mason: naturalist at Great Plains Nature Center and landowner in Osage County, Kansas
  • Dwight Platt: professor emeritus of biology at Bethel College, N. Newton, Kansas
  • Sharon Reber: co-manager of 160 acre farm in Osage County, Kansas
  • Susan Reimer: manager of 160 acres of prairie adjacent to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in McPherson County, Kansas
  • Julia Reitan: co-manager of 160 acre farm in Osage County, Kansas
  • Naomi Rutschman: manager of prairie adjacent to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in McPherson County, Kansas
  • Dee and Phyllis Scherich: managers of the Merrill Ranch in Comanche County, Kansas
  • Duane Schrag: journalist extraordinare who now works for The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas

Want to become involved as well? Please sign-up at our site and email us about your current prairie-related work and interests!

Future Directions

Beyond the prairie assessment web tools themselves, here are some other ideas for how the Remnant Prairies may be useful:

  • Provide a forum for discussion amongst remnant prairie landowners and managers via this web site
  • Focus on specific geographical locales — beginning with Kansas
  • Conduct field trips to members’ prairies
  • Provide classes in techniques such as herbicide use, prescribed burns, etc.
  • Organize work events — seed collection/processing, planting, maintenance (similar to The Prairie Enthusiasts)
  • Organize lobbying efforts
  • Coordinate with other organizations like the Kansas Biological Survey and its KS Natural Heritage Inventory; the Nature Conservancy and NatureServe; Kansas Land Trust; Kansas Native Plant Society; etc.
  • Participate in scientific research
  • Purchase significant remnant parcels
  • Enter into conservation easement/management agreements

Some of these activities are simple to initiate, while others (like purchasing land or working out conservation easement arrangements) can only be done by a formal fiscal entity — which obviously doesn’t exist at this point. There may be advantages to moving in this direction, or this may be entirely unnecessary if other entities can accomplish these functions.

Since economic considerations appear to be the most potent factor in the management and fate of remnant prairie parcels, a particular focus will be on on alternative business models that could preserve/reconstruct prairies.

Such models could include:

  • Carbon sequestration credits
  • Cellolosic ethanol production
  • Ecotourism
  • Specialized, boutique hay production
  • Conservation easements

No doubt the most successful and important directions remain to be thought of. What are your ideas? Email us and get involved! Thanks!

Created: October 18, 2008 16:22
Last updated: February 06, 2010 03:43


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