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A REGIONAL VISION OF COLLABORATION

Vision Statement

The people of the Flint Hills will work together to conserve the tallgrass prairie for its scenic beauty and valuable environmental services, encourage growth and new opportunities in our existing communities, foster health, wellbeing, and education of our residents, and welcome visitors to share the beauty and great stories of our homeland.

Three Flint Hills Frontiers

The Flint Hills Work Group and the Flint Hills Regional Council created three priorities for the plan dubbed “The Three Frontiers.” These priorities are economic vitality, national defense, and cultural and natural resource conservation.

  1. Economic Vitality: The Flint Hills is a unique asset to Kansas and northern Oklahoma, which can be leveraged to help sustain the economic viability of its smaller towns and outlying agricultural lands, while also ensuring the continued vibrancy of its more urban areas.

  2. National Defense: Fort Riley is a critical asset to national defense. By avoiding habitat degradation elsewhere in the Flint Hills, encroachment into Fort Riley’s training area can be avoided and its overall mission can be preserved.

  3. Cultural & Natural Resource Conservation: The Flint Hills contains history, heritage, cultures, and ecology found nowhere else in the world, and to sustain its people, economies, and ecosystems, careful and balanced stewardship of these resources is tantamount.

Three Outcomes

The Flint Hills Frontiers project aims to accomplish three major outcomes based on the three frontiers and initial stakeholder and community feedback. The three outcomes are a regional vision, identification of connections between organizations, resources, and issues, and a toolbox of solutions for voluntary use by local governments and private organizations.

  1. Regional Vision: This plan has defined a vision for this region, which contains a diverse range of communities and interests and is united by the Flint Hills ecoregion. To successfully direct long-term growth and development in the Flint Hills region, the vision has come from the community. The hundreds of residents who participated in meetings and online are the source the ideas that will direct and guide future success in the region.

  2. Identify Connections: The future of the Flint Hills depends on thousands of overlapping decisions from local governments, civic organizations, private sector partners, and a host of others. By finding connections between these organizations and issues, the strongest opportunities will emerge to coordinate efforts in support of a common vision. Thinking about connections when designing policies and projects will maximize the impact of these decisions.

  3. Toolbox of Solutions: The regional plan will include a strategic set of voluntary policies and projects that local governments and private organizations may use to achieve their goals and the common vision. These recommendations will be visionary, yet realistic, far-reaching, yet implementable. By taking into account the community’s vision, stakeholder priorities, and the needs of local government, the Flint Hills Frontiers plan will help the region prosper in the future.

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PRAIRIE INSIGHTS

How does the prairie embody resilience through variation, redundancy and decentralization?
The prairie thrives by incorporating a variety of duplicate forms, processes, and systems. Eighty percent of primary prairie vegetation are grasses from over 40 different species. The other 20 percent of primary vegetation consists of over 300 species of forbs and flowers, as well as over 100 species of lichens and liverworts and numerous species of woody trees and shrubs. 80 percent of the total biomass lies underground in a thick interwoven system of redundant and decentralized roots. The design of the root system allows grasses to flourish despite fires and extreme temperature swings.
How can the Flint Hills educational system become more resilient through variation, redundancy and decentralization?
To strengthen education in the Flint Hills region, a wider variety of academic and technical pathways should be created to include all learning styles, interests, and aptitudes. Traditional pedagogy should be integrated with new applied and emersion learning opportunities. Students should be given opportunities to contribute their unique gifts and talents through project based learning and apprenticeships.
background: © Kevin Sink Photography