LAWRENCE — The Kansas Biological Survey at the University of Kansas will host a public tour of the KU Field Station's Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 27. Survey scientists will lead the tour, which will begin at the new portion of the site, acquired in 2016, and follow a trail into the woods to the high bluff overlooking Coal Creek. Visitors will experience the oak-hickory forest in fall color, with topographical variations and historical features more visible during partial leaf fall.
The entire Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve is a long-term research site and is open only by scheduled tour. Scientific studies within the area are done with as little disturbance as possible so as not to damage the sensitive ecosystem.
Visitors should meet tour leaders on East 1600 Road, Douglas County, about 1 mile south of Nort 600 Road. Park in the grass field on the east side of the road. Trails are primitive; wear appropriate footwear, and bring water, a hat and insect repellent. The tour will be canceled in the event of inclement weather. A flier with a map is posted on the Kansas Biological Survey website. A large crowd is expected, and carpooling is encouraged.
The entire historic Baldwin Woods area was designated in 1980 as a National Natural Landmark. The KU Field Station preserves 456 contiguous acres of the larger Baldwin Woods ecosystem, with parts of the Forest Preserve held by KU Endowment in perpetuity for the Field Station.
In 2016, 254 acres were added when local landowners, working cooperatively with the Kansas Biological Survey, the Conservation Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council and other partners, sold acreage below market value for the purpose of preserving it as part of the KU Field Station. A portion of this area was identified by the Kansas Forest Service as having exceptional conservation value and was chosen as the first Legacy Forest in Kansas. The U.S. Forest Service’s Legacy Program is funded by Congress through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The Kansas Biological Survey, a KU designated research center, was established at KU in 1911. It houses a variety of environmental research labs and remote sensing/GIS programs in Takeru Higuchi Hall and the West District greenhouse. It also manages the 3,700-acre KU Field Station, a site for study in the sciences, arts and humanities.
Photo: Baldwin Woods Forest Preserve. Credit: Edward Robison III.