The Natural Areas 

  • Campus Woods -- A 13-acre (5-ha) tract of predominately riparian forest along the Neosho River.  It is located at the far north end of the ESU campus.  It includes educational displays, trails for recreation, and a picnic area.
  • Charles P. Coughlen Natural Area -- A 44-acre (18-ha) tract located 9 miles (14 km) southwest of Emporia, Kansas, along the I-35 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 ESU’s two wetland Natural Areas, this 128-acre (52-ha) tract is located in southeastern Morris County about 16 miles (26 km) northwest of Emporia, Kansas, immediately adjacent to the southeastern corner of the town of Dunlap.  The site was restored from cropland to a wet meadow of native warm-season grasses under the Wetlands Reserve Program Several ephemerally-flooded micro-depressions (furrows) and shallow impoundments 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 (81-ha) site located approximately 15 miles (24 km) northwest of the Emporia State University campus.  The site is predominately native and restored tallgrass prairie, shrubland, and woodland, including a stream, spring, ponds, and other habitats.  The Experimental Disturbance Plots on site provide opportunities for investigation of biotic responses to various disturbances of tallgrass prairie.  Facilities include a building with a classroom, lab space, and lodging quarters.  There is a storm shelter on site.  (See also a special feature on prairie burning.)
  • Hamilton Fossil Quarry -- A 51-acre (21-ha) tract of land approximately 3 miles (5 km) east of Hamilton, 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 ago) vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, and microfossils.
  • Neva Marsh -- One of ESU’s two wetland Natural Areas, the 52-acre  (21-ha) Neva Marsh is located in the Cottonwood River floodplain of Chase County, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Emporia and 2 miles west of Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.  The area was restored to a wetland 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 Woods Natural Area -- A 36-acre (15-ha) tract of upland and lowland deciduous forest, representing the westernmost penetration of eastern deciduous forest in Kansas.  Reading Woods is located near Reading, Kansas, about 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Emporia, and is contiguous to the east with the 10,100-acre (4,089-ha) Melvern Wildlife Area (licensed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism).  Because of its unique flora, fauna, and geological features, Reading Woods is maintained as a preserve in a relatively undisturbed state.  
  • Sarah Howe Natural Area (Howe Woods) -- A 12-acre (5-ha) tract of forest located about 13 miles (21 km) northeast of Emporia, Kansas, that contains several large bur oaks (Quercus macrocarpa) and other deciduous tree species.  The area is maintained as a natural preserve at the request of Sarah Howe.