MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - Chase Co. rancher Jane Koger includes an unusual line in her return address. In addition to the names of her ranch, town, and state, she also locates herself in the "Republic of Grass." Four generations of her family have earned their living on the tall grass prairie, she says, and as long as the "republic" endures, many more can do the same.
The "Republic of Grass" extends throughout the Flint Hills, where miraculously, some 5 million acres of native prairie still exist. These gorgeous autumn days offer a splendid opportunity to get to know the grassy citizens of that Republic, as the grasses have gone to seed now, and their seedheads are their nametags. In the spring, grass seedlings look alike, and it can take a magnifying glass to tell them apart. But now, with their identifying seedheads in full view, it is easy to recognize them, even from a distance. Take a hike on the prairie or a drive along Flint Hills roads, and you will see the grasses nodding to you, introducing themselves.