Flint Hills

Jeff McPheeters

The Symphony in the Flint Hills is back after two years of cancellations — and so far there’s no threat of another cancellation on the horizon.

Through art, music and educational presentations, the Symphony in the Flint Hills tells the story of one of the last standing tallgrass prairies in North America.

The 2019 event was cancelled after storms damaged the concert site, and the pandemic was the culprit in 2020.

Lu Anne Stephens / KMUW

The tallgrass prairie once covered more than 170 million acres across North America.

Today, only about 4% is left, and most of it can be found in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

jimmywayne / flickr Creative Commons

More than a century after the arrival of the railroads to the Flint Hills of Kansas, a large-scale track expansion is tearing up a scenic stretch in some of the last remaining tallgrass prairie left in the nation.

Patrick Emerson, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas ranchers eager to prepare their land for cattle grazing have mostly brushed off the plea from state health officials to voluntarily cut back this spring's prairie burning to reduce air pollution during the coronavirus pandemic.

With the potential of the pandemic overwhelming the state's medical facilities, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on March 26 encouraged land owners and managers to reduce burned acres this spring in an effort to mitigate respiratory concerns connected to breathing the smoke.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Wichita — Cindy Hoedel and Scott Yeargain, who live in or near the Kansas Flint Hills, began looking into oil and gas operations near their homes as early as 2016.

The two, separately, worried about earthquakes and water quality issues that new wastewater injection wells would create.

Hoedel documented a few dozen instances where injection well permit applications didn’t follow Kansas Corporation Commission guidelines. That led to a KCC report identifying more than 1,000 similar cases.

The Symphony in the Flint Hills on Saturday canceled its signature event — an outdoor performance by the Kansas City Symphony — for the first time in the organization's 14-year history. Early morning storms caused severe damage, including flattening four tents slated for ticketing, patrons, food and art.

Symphony In The Flint Hills Will Return To Butler County On Saturday

Jun 4, 2018
Ascha Lee / KMUW

The 13th annual Symphony in the Flint Hills event will take place Saturday in Butler County.

The one-day event is organized to educate people about the importance of appreciating and protecting the tallgrass prairie landscape. About 7,000 guests attend each year to enjoy barbecue, art and educational sessions throughout the afternoon before the concert. The Kansas City Symphony performs at sunset.

This year’s event will be held at Rosalia Ranch, about 15 miles east of El Dorado. It also was the site of the 2014 symphony.

Brian Grimmett / KMUW

A decade ago, Kansans felt an earthquake once every few years. Now ground tremors come regularly. One of the hardest hit areas is Harper County in the south central part of the state.

It’s no coincidence, scientists and state regulators agree, that Harper and Sumner counties are also where massive amounts of wastewater has been pumped below ground by outfits drilling for oil and natural gas.

Faces of Fracking / flickr Creative Commons

A Kansas House committee has rejected a bill that was designed to prevent earthquakes that experts say are caused by oil and gas production wastewater disposal methods.

Madeline Fox / Kansas News Service

Kansas’ energy-regulating agency will investigate nearly a decade’s worth of permits it granted to oil and gas companies after learning recently that some wells received permits without meeting certain state regulations.

The probe, announced Tuesday, will determine the number of wells approved since 2008 without the companies giving nearby residents accurate information about their rights to protest the wells.

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