PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • 'Kansas Outback' a new blog on Tribune's website

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  • Those who enjoy the natural beauty of Kansas have a new blog on the Pratt Tribune web site that focuses on the Red Hills of Barber County.
    Ken Brunson, Red Hills project coordinator for the Nature Conservancy, is the latest blogger on the Tribune web site with “The Kansas Outback” that shares his interests in the natural beauty of Barber County.
    The blog will cover all the natural virtues of the Red Hills, gypsum and wildlife in Barber County.
    Brunson’s interest in Barber County started when he worked at Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. He worked there for 38 years in several positions and finished as the non-game program coordinator.
    It started as a private thing then morphed into an expression of his interest in the natural beauty of the Red Hills, Brunson said.
    Brunson considers himself a champion of the great natural qualities of Kansas.
    “I’m always on the lookout for stories and pictures to share with the folks,” Brunson said.
    The Red Hills is one of the state’s best-kept secrets and Brunson is interested in getting more people interested in the area.
    “My job is to help people learn about the virtues of the area. It all fits with my Red Hills coordinator for the nature conservancy,” Brunson said. “It’s part of my work.”
    When Brunson moved to the area in 1971, Barber County was one of the first areas he visited. He visited some of the caves in the area and that sparked his interest.
    The caves are a fairly unique feature in Kansas. Out of about 700 caves in the state, around 400 are located in Barber and Comanche counties, he said.
    The caves are a home to bat colonies and they are part of the natural conservancy. He enjoys writing about the lesser prairie chicken, the bison on the Z Bar Ranch, the permanent flowing streams, the grassland and all the geological features in the area.
    His blogs feature short narrative, plenty of photographs and some video. He keeps it short and sweet. He has also been known to post an occasional poem on the site.
    “It (blog) gives me an outlet for my stores about the Red Hills. Besides, its just fun,” Brunson said. “If it wasn’t fun I wouldn’t do it.”
    Iron in Barber County soil gives the dirt its red color that makes up the Red Hills. The Red Hills cover about two million acres in Barber, Harper, Comanche and Clark counties as well as parts of Meade and Kiowa counties and even a little in Pratt County, Brunson said.
    The area is known for its rolling hills and for its deposits of gypsum that gives the area the nickname “Gyp Hills.” Gypsum is mined at National Gypsum at Sun City and has been for over 100 years. A factory in Medicine Lodge uses the gypsum to make wallboard.
    Page 2 of 2 - If Brunson’s blog doesn't appear on the homepage,click on “READ MORE” at the bottom of the Community Blogs, then scroll down to “OUR BLOGS” and click on the white dot beside the blue dot. This will take the reader to “The Kansas Outback” web site.
    It’s worth the trouble to get there.
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