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Blue-green algae blooms have always been a natural, and safe, part of Kansas lakes. But within the past decade, algal amounts have increased to where it can cause the surface of a lake or pond to look like an ugly, putrid-smelling matte of green paint. And it’s a problem affecting dozens of Kansas lakes.
Early research suggests a correlation between positive cases of COVID-19 and deaths in areas with higher levels of ground-level ozone pollution and other types of air pollutants, like particulate matter. Communities most impacted by poor air quality in Kansas City are located near industrial areas and highways — areas that are more likely to house Black and Latinx people. Those same communities are also the hardest hit by the coronavirus.
America’s last stand of tallgrass prairie — primarily located in the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas and extending to the north and south — is being overgrown by non-native plants. The worst are Old World bluestem grasses and sericea lespedeza, robbing ranchers like Klataske of prime grazing lands and wildlife of special habitat.