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Stories focused on energy & environment topics throughout the state of Kansas.

Richard Crowson: Kansas Tourism

In 2012 the state of Kansas ranked in the bottom five for tourism, to no one’s surprise hereabouts.

We’re pretty used to the idea that World’s Largest Balls of Twine and World’s Deepest Hand-Dug Wells are just not going to pack ‘em in like the Vegas Strip and Orlando’s Mickey Mouse traps do.

On the other hand, what happens in a hand-dug well really does stay in a hand-dug well, you have to admit. I suspect our “Aw, shucks” state is going to continue being unimpressive to the mountain-and-beach-and-sin-city tourist crowd.

Not that the possibility doesn’t exist that there could someday be a gigantic plaque erected here that says: “On this site Governor Brownback and his Rush Limbaugh-addled legislative cohorts attempted to construct a right-wing utopia. Please tread carefully in your hip boots as large deposits from that gigantic herd of bull elephants still litter the Kansas landscape.”

Perhaps the ruins of Emperor Sam’s great experiment could eventually attract a few bio-tourists to the Sunflower State.

Yet there is a tourist population during Kansas’ Septembers that sometimes gets taken for granted: monarch butterflies. Every year they migrate through, heading from Canada to Mexico. Now comes the news that even this population of Kansas tourist is diminishing, victims of genetically modified corn crops in U.S. fields, and of illegal logging in Mexico. Monarchs rely on milkweed on which to lay their eggs, and genetically modified corn is heavily sprayed with Roundup, killing the milkweed.

I’m not sure we can count on hand-dug wells and balls of twine to attract butterflies. The only monarch Kansas may someday be left with could be the one who reigns from the governor’s office.

Richard Crowson is not only a editorial commentator for KMUW. He's also a cartoonist, an artist and a banjo player.