The Natural Areas, owned and managed by Emporia State University, include seven biological sites and one geological site. The Natural Areas are administered through the Departments of Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences by the appointment of a Director of Natural Areas, a Director of Johnston Geology Museum, and a faculty advisory committee to oversee and implement the mission of teaching, research, and preservation for each of the eight areas. For access to the areas or arrangement of tours, call 620-341-5339 to contact the Director of Natural Areas, Department of Biological Sciences.
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 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 property 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. Facilities include a classroom and lab space.
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 reseeded on the area.
Reading Woods Natural Area -- a 36-acre tract of upland and lowland deciduous forest, representing the westernmost 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.