May 2, 2016

LAWRENCE and BALDWIN CITY, Kan.—Thanks to the cooperation of a group of organizations and individuals, the Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve—part of the University of Kansas (KU) Field Station and a jewel of biodiversity in Douglas County—has grown to 456 acres and is now unified as one contiguous tract. The protection of the additional land was announced Saturday at a dedication event at Vinland, Kansas, near the Preserve.  

This conservation effort is the first Forest Legacy Program project in Kansas. Funded by the U.S. Congress through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)—the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program is a national voluntary program, which in Kansas is administered by the Kansas Forest Service that protects working forests that provide public benefits. The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provided mitigation funding from Enbridge Pipelines L.L.C. and TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP, for the protection of the properties. Additional funding was provided by a Douglas County Heritage Conservation grant.

“We are honored to contribute to this project through our national Forest Legacy program,” said Dan Jirón, Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region of the USDA Forest Service.  “This is this first Forest Legacy project in Kansas and protects a biologically rich and unique forest that provides many public benefits near the city of Lawrence.  I applaud the conservation vision and dedication of the landowner, The Conservation Fund, the Kansas Biological Survey, the Kansas State Forest Service, and all the other partners who made this project a reality.” 

Lands for the expansion were offered for sale below market value by landowners Ray Wilber and Cathy Dwigans, and John and Gloria Hood, of rural Baldwin City, Kansas, for the expressed purpose of incorporating them into the Forest Preserve.

In addition to the protection of these lands, the landowners have created an endowed fund at KU Endowment to support natural resource management and research on the Forest Preserve. The goal is to increase the fund through additional contributions to KU Endowment from supporters of Baldwin Woods.

The greater Baldwin Woods, named a National Natural Landmark in 1980 by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, is recognized as a site of environmental significance. It lies within an ecotone, the border region where the North American eastern deciduous forest meets the tallgrass prairie. Thus, many species are living at the western extremes of their geographic ranges, and subtle shifts in climate may affect their populations here to a greater extent than farther east. This makes the Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve—one of the highest-quality protected stands of the eastern forest in Kansas—extremely valuable to the study of ecosystem dynamics and climate change.

“This outstanding conservation success at Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve is the result of a decade’s long vision shared by the landowners and the University of Kansas, and it was made possible thanks to the commitment of numerous partners,” said Clint Miller, Midwest Project Director at The Conservation Fund. “We’re thrilled to help facilitate this acquisition, and are grateful to Congress, including U.S. Senators Roberts and Moran and U.S. Representative Jenkins, for continuing to fund LWCF and the Forest Legacy Program for the protection of biologically diverse natural lands like this.” 

LWCF and the Forest Legacy Program are annually funded by the U.S. Congress, including Kansas' U.S. delegation representing the Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve: U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran and U.S. Representative Lynn Jenkins.

“Kansas’s natural beauty, such as our deciduous forests and tallgrass prairies, is an important aspect of what makes our state so unique,” said U.S. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. “This project represents years of hard work by both public and private groups to conserve the Baldwin Woods for academic benefit right here in Kansas.”

Organizations involved in the effort to expand the Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve and their respective roles in the project area as follows:

  • The U.S. Forest Service, and the Kansas Forest Service at Kansas State University, which designated a portion of the area as the first Legacy Forest in Kansas through the Forest Legacy Program, and which also provided funding;
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which negotiated a unique mitigation package with the pipeline project proponents that provided funding through their partner The Conservation Fund;
  • The Conservation Fund, a national environmental organization that works to develop conservation solutions that also meet economic needs, which provided project coordination and funding; The Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council, which provided a grant;
  • The Kansas Land Trust, which provided technical support;
  • KU Endowment, the private fundraising foundation for the University of Kansas; KU Endowment holds the majority of KU Field Station lands and manages private funds for the Field Station;
  • The Kansas Biological Survey, a research center of the University of Kansas, which manages the 3,700-acre KU Field Station, including the Baldwin Woods area. The Biological Survey was established at KU in 1911.

In addition to the new lands, the Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve includes the Breidenthal Biological Reserve, the Rice Woodland and the Wall Woods, all acquired between 1965 and 1974, and now held by KU Endowment.

The Field Station’s core area, about 1,800 acres north of Lawrence, consists of native and managed habitats, experimental and support facilities, research sites and nature trails. It is open to academic programs across the University as a teaching and research resource. In addition to the Forest Preserve, the KU Field Station manages a 1,450-acre prairie preserve in Anderson County (owned by The Nature Conservancy). The KU Field Station was established in 1947 with the formation of the area now known as the Fitch Natural History Reservation.

The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 7.5 million acres of land.

Release Contacts
Kirsten Bosnak | Kansas Biological Survey | (785) 864-6267 |
Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | (703) 908-5809 |
Lawrence M. Lujan | U.S. Forest Service | (303) 275-5356 |