Fulfilling the mission of teaching, research, and preservation since 1958.
The Natural Areas
Campus Woods -- a 10 acre tract of predominately riparian forest along the Neosho River. It is located at the far north end of the university campus.
Charles P. Coughlen Natural Area -- a 44-acre tract of tallgrass prairie located 9 miles southwest of Emporia along the Kansas Turnpike. It consists of native and restored tallgrass prairie, riparian woodland, a spring, and a stream with a small impoundment.
Dunlap Bottoms -- One of our two new wetland Natural Areas, this 128-acre tract in southeastern Morris County was restored from cropland to a wet meadow of native, warm-season grasses under the Wetlands Reserve Program by a previous landowner. Several micro-depressions and small impoundments with standing water exist on the property, though the interior of the site is dominated by grassland.
F.B. and Rena G. Ross Natural History Reservation -- a 200-acre classroom-laboratory located approximately 15 miles northwest of the university campus. The site is predominately native and restored tallgrass prairie, shrubland, and woodland, including a stream, spring, ponds, and other habitats. Our new Experimental Disturbance Plots provide many opportunities for investigation of biotic responses to various disturbances of tallgrass prairie. Other facilities include a classroom, lab space, a computer lab with DSL internet access, sleeping quarters, and a storm shelter. (See also a special feature on prairie burning.)
Hamilton Fossil Quarry -- an 51-acre tract of land approximately 3 miles east of Hamilton, Greenwood County, Kansas. Formerly the location of a commercial rock quarry, the property includes numerous fossil sites which have yielded a large, world-famous collection of late Pennsylvanian age (300 million years) fossilized vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, and microfossils.
Neva Marsh -- Our other newly-acquired wetland site, the 52-acre Neva Marsh, located in the Cottonwood River floodplain of Chase County, was also created through the Wetlands Reserve Program and is a complex of broad, shallow impoundments supporting aquatic vegetation and wildlife. Native, warm-season grasses were also re-seeded on the area.
Reading WoodsNatural Area -- a 36-acre tract of upland and lowland deciduous forest, representing the western most penetration of eastern deciduous forest in Kansas. Reading Woods is located near Reading, KS, about 15 miles northeast of Emporia, and is contiguous with the 10,100-acre Melvern Wildlife Area (licensed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks). Because of its unique flora, fauna, and geological features, Reading Woods is maintained as a preserve in a relatively undisturbed state. The university acquired the land in 1971.
Sarah Howe Natural Area (Howe Woods) -- a 12-acre tract of forest in eastern Lyon County that contains several, large bur oaks (Quercus macrocarpa). The area is maintained as a natural preserve at the request of Miss Sarah Howe who deeded the land to the university in 1982.