Named after Carmelita “Una” Dos Santos, who had ranched the land for many years, a dispute over the land after her death kept it in legal limbo for decades. Her second husband, Philip McKean, claimed the prairie along with the rest of the ranch, while Una’s son from her first marriage, Ernesto Smith, claimed that it had been left to him as a future homestead. Legal wrangling didn’t end with the deaths of Smith or McKean, either, with both men’s families pushing the issue as a matter of family honor. In the meantime, the prairie gradually returned to its natural and wild state as a sort of unintentional preserve. Starting in the 1940s, the state ag school’s extension service began to do surveys of the land, and it was identified as a biodiversity hotspot, becoming popular with eco-tourists and birdwatchers. But that was before the last descendants of both Smith and McKean came to an agreement for a buyout, with the full legal title to the land finally being settled, before promptly announcing that the prairie would be bulldozed and converted into a cattle pasture.

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