Marty Bender Nature Area with Map – Guided Virtual Tour
Beginning at Prairie Festival 2019, The Land Institute is pleased to officially welcome the public to visit our Marty Bender Nature Area. The 206-acre nature area is located one mile north of The Land Institute’s main campus. At this time, the trail is only to be used for hiking.
The nature area features a trail of nearly three miles through prairie and woods along the Smoky Hill River in traditional Kaw Nation homelands. Several scientific research plots are located on site. Additional features include art installations, plant and wildlife viewing, a tree swing and picnic area, scenic overlooks of the river and Salina region, and a community book share box.
With the generous support of private philanthropists, The Land Institute acquired the nature area property in 2002 from the trust of Oliver Haag. The “Haag Place” was used in the past for farming and ranching. In 2004, the land was named in commemoration of Marty Bender, former energy scientist at The Land Institute, who was also a naturalist. In 2018, local volunteers and friends of The Land Institute, designed and made the trail in collaboration with institute staff. They milled local Osage orange wood for benches and signage along the trail. As a site for research, education, and community engagement, the nature area has since hosted events such as tours, community work days, and Ecosphere Studies workshops.