MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Nearly 200 researchers, students, ranchers and conservationists are gathering in Manhattan this week to focus on our nation's grasslands.
Kansas State University and the National Wildlife Federation are co-hosting the biennial America's Grasslands Conference at the Hilton Garden Inn. The three-day event is shedding light on the status, threats and opportunities facing America’s declining grasslands.
This year's conference, "America's Grasslands: The Future of Grasslands in a Changing Landscape," will focus on collaborating with ranchers to conserve grasslands.
Ben Larson with the National Wildlife Federation said the conference is uniting ranchers, members of the the conservation community and state and federal agencies and private land owners from all across the Great Plains and different parts of the country who have an interest in grasslands ecology and conservation because of the services they provide, including food and fiber and fuel and energy resources.
"We’re also looking at ways of conserving native prairie for the wildlife and climate benefits, the clean water benefits of native prairies and also working to keep other kinds of grasslands on the landscape. There’s just many drivers that are reducing the amount of grasslands across the landscape, including Kansas but also up in the Dakotas and Western Minnesota," he told WIBW.
Conference participants will get the chance to tour local grasslands, including the Flint Hills Native Tallgrass Prairie and the Konza Prairie Biological Station. They'll also take part in breakout sessions, presentations and round-table discussion surrounding a variety of topics related to native grassland conservation and restoration.
"There’s a lot of concern at the conference around loss of grasslands but there’s also a lot of hope with folks working together and new ideas that people are working to develop to keep the grass right side up, as we say,' Larson added.