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Colbert Hills Golf Course

Manhattan, Kan.


Native grasses important to golf course

By Angie Rupert



3 men looking at grass

File photo

Walter Fick, Mickey Ransom and Steve Thien examine the grasses at Colbert Hills. Researchers found some 40 types of native grasses in the area.


Golfers who visit Kansas State University's Colbert Hills Golf Course are treated to a great course, and a little more native Kansas scenery than they probably have experienced at any other golf course.

"One of the things that makes the golf course unique is its setting in the native tallgrass prairie of Kansas," said Walter Fick, associate professor of agronomy at K-State. "You really don't find a golf course surrounded by native grasslands very often."

Fick was part of a survey team that looked at the fields months before work began on the golf course in fall 1997. The team visited the site and identified 209 species of plants on the 1,040 acres that would soon be a golf course.

"We found about 40 kinds of grasses in the area," Fick said. "We also found many different varieties of woody plants and broad-leaf plants. We were happy to discover so many different plants in one area, and we really don't think that the golf course will eliminate many of the species in the area."

Fick said he believes the golf course managers have every intention of maintaining the native grassland surrounding the course.

The managers will have to make some special efforts to preserve the area.

"There will definitely have to be some kind of mowing or burning of the area every other year or so to help maintain all the plant species that grow in the area. If neither one of these things occur, trees begin to grow and some of the plants will disappear," Fick said.

Fick said there are reasons why grassland preservation is so important. "From an ecological standpoint, we have some of the last remaining acres of tallgrass prairie. Most areas of tallgrass prairie in the United States have been plowed under. Also, keeping the grasslands around the golf course enables people who may have never seen native grasses to view and enjoy them."

Current plans for the area include a housing development. However, Fick said he believes that many acres will remain open for the native grasses and associated species.


August 2002