Regions Of Kansas

By Morgan Simpson

Wellington-McPherson Lowlands

Located in south-central Kansas. This region is flat except for sand dunes. The soil is mainly sand, silt, and gravel. Erosion isn’t a problem here. Most dunes are inactive. The vegetation is holding the sand in place. This region is mostly tallgrass prairie, however trees grow along streams. There is an abundance of high-quality water. The rivers provide necessary moisture for forests and springs. This region receives 32 inches of annual precipitation. The temperature varies greatly through year. In January the low is 20 degrees fahrenheit, July the high is 92 degrees fahrenheit. One of the few places in Kansas that is flat. Mainly devoted to cash crops, winter wheat and grain sorghum predominate, although there are some cotton fields. Permian seas shaped this region as well. The Permian seas left behind a thick layer of salt. The salt was buried by other sediments, it was discovered millions of years later along with a whole bed of salt. The salt mined is mostly used for melting ice on roads. How ever table salt is also mined. Some caverns are no longer used for mining, but they are used storage. Limestone and shale beds above this keep the water out.

Arkansas River Lowlands

The area is mainly flat floodlands. It cuts through high plains into south-Central Kansas. The soil contains sand, salt, and gravel (deposits from river). This region is mainly covered in sandsage prairie vegetation. That includes sand sagebrush, sand bluestem, little bluestem, and prairie sandreed. Water is a major concern. The irrigation and evaporation take more water than can be replaced. Much of the river is dry most of the year, sometimes long enough for plants to grow in the river bed. As you go east to west the climate becomes drier, sunnier, and windier. The annual precipitation is 30 inches near Wichita and 15 inches near Colorado state border. This region is used for both rangeland and cropland. Although cropland generally predominates in most of this region except for the westernmost parts. Winter wheat is the main dryland crop, however with irrigation alfalfa and sorghum are grown as well.

Before people settled the river frequently flooded, flattening the land creating floodplains. The river also deposited sand and other sediments creating sand dunes.

Chautauqua Hills

This region runs in a narrow band of 10 miles wide at most). It runs from the Kansas-Oklahoma line to Yates Center. It’s rolling uplands mark the region. The Verdigris, Fall, and Elk rivers flow at the bottoms of the slopes. The soil is a thin layer of dry sandy soil that covers most of Chautauqua Hills. Throughout the uplands rock outcroppings jut from the sides of many slopes. River valleys historically harbored thick growth oak trees, but more recently cedars invaded the river valley. There is mixed tallgrass prairie on higher ground, a combination known as Cross Timbers. Although soils are dry, it still has rainfall and streams necessary to support woodlands and wildlife. The temperatures swing with seasons, ranging from mean maximum of 91 degrees fahrenheit in summer to mean minimum of 44 degrees fahrenheit in winter. They get 35 inches of rain annually. The thin rocky soils are not ideal for crops. However most land is used to pasture livestock, particularly in less wooded areas. During the Pennsylvanian and Permian periods rivers and streams flowed into seas. Sand and sediments would collect.

Smoky Hills

Located in north-central Kansas. This area consists of 3 separate bands of hills running from southwest to northeast. The Western band is the Chalk Buttes, it is considered flat compared to other 2. The middle band is the Blue Hills, also known as “Post Rock Country”. The Eastern band is the Smoky Hills, it is a range of sandstone hills. The soil is diverse in this large region it consists of sand, silt, clay, and loam. This region is mixed prairie, it is a transition of tallgrass in the east to short grass in the west. Some trees grow along streams and rivers. There are four rivers that cut through the region. They are called the Republican, the Saline, the Solomon, and the Smoky Hills. There are dry winds, and low precipitation, so water is a precious resource. The groundwater is used faster than it can be replenished. The average annual precipitation is 24-29 inches. This region is also rather windy. The land is used for both cropland and pasture. The cattle predominate the rough terrain. The crops grow wherever rich soils are level enough to permit. Although winter wheat rules in this region, sorghum, soybeans, and hay are grown too. This region was formed later in the Cretaceous Period. It was formed by later deposits of sediment. When the seas dried up thick layers of sediment were left behind. The sediment was buried 1,000-2,00 feet deep in the ground, so it turned into chalk.
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