We anticipate opening sometime in 2019 but no date has been set. Entrance fees will be standard Kansas State Park rates, currently $5 per vehicle or with purchase of an annual parks permit.
Little Jerusalem provides a tremendous opportunity to connect people to the wonders of the prairie. It is a one-of-a-kind landscape in Kansas and the state’s largest Niobrara Chalk formation.
These chalk badlands provide unique and important habitat for ferruginous hawks, cliff swallows, Say’s phoebe and rock wrens, as well as many native amphibians and reptiles. Little Jerusalem is also home to the single largest population of Great Plains wild buckwheat, an endemic plant that is found in the chalk bluffs prairie of western Kansas and nowhere else in the world.
In addition to the modern wildlife, fossils of swimming and flying reptiles dating back 85 million years have been found here, though ancient clams and oysters are more common. We also believe Little Jerusalem, adjacent to the Conservancy’s 17,290-acre Smoky Valley Ranch, provides an opportunity to share our broader work in the high plains of western Kansas.
The chalk badlands are highly erodible and many of the property’s features (e.g. tall chalk columns, historic inscriptions) are fragile. Therefore, visitor access must be carefully managed to avoid negative impacts and damage to the natural resources on the property. That's why we partnered with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to designate Little Jerusalem a unit of the state park system.
TNC will continue to own the property while engaging KDWPT's services and assistance in developing and managing public access and visitor use. The Nature Conservancy is committed to keeping access to Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park affordable. We have not yet agreed to charges for special access permits and will continue to work with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to ensure that all fees are reasonable.
We do not yet have a timeline for when Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park will be open to the public. We have been taking the necessary time to plan and develop infrastructure that will keep people safe and protect the natural features of this place. More information about the planning can be found in this article by the Hays Daily News.