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Special event planned for grand opening of Prairie Block

Thursday, May 30, 2019

LAWRENCE — A free and family-friendly event this week will celebrate the fascinating world of the Sunflower State's native prairie ecosystem and local trails.

The Prairie Block Party will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 1 at Burroughs Creek Park, 900 E. 15th St. Prairie Block is a community-led endeavor that features creekside nature trails, nature-themed public art made of recycled materials and a new shade structure pavilion designed and built by University of Kansas students in Assistant Professor Keith Van de Riet’s ARCH 509 studio. All materials, consulting and labor have been donated.

Phase 2 of the Prairie Block project will restore a wet prairie and wetland along Burroughs Creek and the Burroughs Creek Trail (Lawrence Loop) as a demonstration of how green stormwater infrastructure in trail systems and parks can protect the watershed and combat the effects of climate change.

Saturday’s event will feature nature exhibits, activities and demonstrations.

“Less than one-half of 1 percent of Douglas County’s original tallgrass prairie remains,” said Jennifer Delisle of the Kansas Biological Survey. “This event highlights the importance of conserving these pieces of our natural heritage and re-creating prairies where possible.”

Attendees can learn the dance of the Greater Prairie Chicken and take home a native plant to start their own prairie garden. 

Neighborhood resident and architectural/urban designer Suzan Hampton has brought together a diverse coalition of community, public, private, higher education and nonprofit partners to get Prairie Block off the ground. Partners include the School of Architecture & Design, the Kansas Biological Survey and KU Field Station; the East Lawrence, Brook Creek and Barker neighborhood associations; Lawrence Parks & Recreation; Westar Energy’s Green Team; Cottin’s Hardware & Rental; Struct/Restruct; R.D. Johnson Excavating Company; Hicks’ Classic Concrete, and Kansas City Tent & Awning Company, among others.

The Prairie Block Party includes continuous and scheduled activities for children and adults. Prairie Park Nature Center will display live birds of prey at 10 a.m. Lawrence Mayor Lisa Larsen will lead a Neighbors Walk/Bike starting at Hobbs Park at 10:30 a.m., continuing on the Burroughs Creek Trail (Lawrence Loop) to Burroughs Creek Park, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. Food trucks and live music will add to the festive atmosphere. See event page for a full schedule of presentations.

National Prairie Day activities are funded in part by a grant from the National Audubon Society.

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