OPINION: Don’t be selfish, follow the rules at Konza Prairie

Two K-State students jog through the Konza Prairie. (File Photo by Josh Staab | The Collegian)

In an interview for the Collegian on Friday, John Briggs, Konza director and Kansas State professor of biology, said the nature trails at the Konza Prairie will be shut down to the public if people continue violating the rules.

“There’s only two things to do: people need to follow the rules or we are going to close down the nature trail to the public use,” Briggs said.

If a few people break the rules and walk off the trail, swim in the river, walk their dog, etc., it’s relatively OK in that it won’t always have a severe impact on the surrounding ecosystem. But when a lot of people take part in those actions it is guaranteed to have an impact on the ecosystem, and since the Konza is privately-owned land designated for the use of field research, it would be fair to close it down.

While I did just say that a few people breaking the rules isn’t going to always have a severe impact on the ecosystem, it will affect current research in the area more often than not, which after all is the main issue here.

It’s understandable to want to walk your dog on the trail, go swimming or wander off the trail because it’s fun and adventurous — plus, as Briggs said in his interview, some people aren’t aware that the Konza isn’t a public access area — but everyone needs to understand that doing so, even just once, can ruin weeks or months of research.

The Nature Conservancy and K-State, who jointly own the land, are kind enough to allow the public on the land so that everyone can observe the natural beauty of this tallgrass prairie.

It would be a shame to see the Konza closed off to the public because aside from being one of the few existing tallgrass prairie preserves in Kansas, the Konza is a proud symbol of Manhattan’s and K-State’s commitments to protecting our environment. Every Manhattanite can and should show pride in this commitment simply by following the rules.

Now, if you can briefly indulge me as I get a bit philosophical, this issue is a perfect example of Emmanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative, also known as the “Moral Law.” One of the guidelines for acting morally, according to Kant, is by following the law of Universalizability which goes as follows: “Always act in such a way that you could will that the maxim of your act become a Universal Law.”

In simpler terms, if you act in a way that everyone else also acts and it has little to no negative impact on anyone or anything, your actions are moral.

In regard to the issue of the Konza, if everyone broke the rules and walked off the trail, lit campfires or brought dogs along on a walk, it would definitely have a negative impact on the ecosystem and therefore be immoral. On the other hand, if everyone did follow the rules no one would be negatively affected — you may be sad you can’t swim but that’s not sufficient enough — and those actions would be considered moral.

So, how about we all act moral and just follow the rules so everyone can continue enjoying the beautiful scenery at the Konza.

Caleb Snider is a sophomore in public relations. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.