TOPEKA – The National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) recently honored The Nature Conservancy of Kansas (TNC) with its 2018 President’s Award. In 2016, TNC bought a 330-acre tract of land in Logan County that encompasses 250 acres of Niobrara chalk formations. The property adjoins the Smoky Valley Ranch which is owned by TNC. In 2018, the Kansas Legislature formally designated the chalk formations as Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park. The park is projected to be opened by summer 2019. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and TNC are collaborating to design access to the park and build trails to protect the fragile formations and unique ecology of the area.
The Niobrara chalk formation is a layer of rock deposited about 85 million years ago. It is composed of a chalk-like sediment that settled at the bottom of an inland ocean called the Western Interior Seaway which covered most of central North America roughly 140 to 70 million years ago. The rock was exposed and eroded over time, creating the tall pillars and rugged canyons that characterize the Little Jerusalem badlands.
In addition to breathtaking views, Little Jerusalem is also home to wildlife – from bats and ferruginous hawks to snakes, toads and lizards – and plants found nowhere else in the world.
“Without the help of the Conservancy staff, Kansas would not have this beautiful landscape as a part of its state park system,” said Linda Lanterman, NASPD president and Kansas state parks director. “TNC and KDWPT are committed to making this property accessible to visitors, while ensuring that the fragile terrain is protected.”
Prominent members of The Nature Conservancy of Kansas who have worked especially diligently to protect and make the Little Jerusalem badlands accessible include Rob Manes, Kris Knight and Matt Bain.