DU joins 5-Star Urban Grant Partners

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Photo © Michael Furtman

Ducks Unlimited is part of the Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS), which was awarded one of the 58 "Five-Star and Urban Restoration" National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grants for 2016. Funds, totaling $2.2 million in grants and $5.2 million in local support, will be used to renovate a 2.6-acre wetland located at the Great Plains Nature Center (GPNC) in Wichita, Kansas. The wetland will be restored, with the help of 50 volunteers, through dredging and installation of a water control structure to provide enhanced management ability.

This project will result in habitat improvement, improved management of the wetland, and removal of invasive species from surrounding buffers and uplands. Other partners on this project include the City of Wichita, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Westar Energy, the Regional Economic Area Partnership, Wichita Clean Streams, Ducks Unlimited, the Kansas Department of Agriculture's Division of Conservation, Cargill Incorporated and the Whooping Crane Mitigation Fund.

"Ducks Unlimited is excited to join the 5-Star Urban Grant Partners on this very popular wetland renovation project at the GPNC. We hope the 20 thousand annual visitors at the GPNC will enjoy their newly renovated wetland," said Joe Kramer, DU biologist for Kansas. "This project will give people who may not otherwise have opportunities to visit wetlands, a chance to experience how wetlands support people and wildlife."

"The Five Star and Urban Restoration Program is a funding opportunity for successful, community-focused conservation efforts," said Jessica Mounts, executive director of KAWS. "Not only will this project produce tangible conservation rewards in an urban area, we will also see the additional benefits of engaging and empowering citizens to participate in the protection of fish and wildlife habitat and clean water in our community."

"This wetland area at the GPNC is an integral part of the habitat for the deer, turkey, waterfowl, fish and shorebirds that call the area home," remarked Jim Mason, Director of the GPNC. "Wetlands provide access to water for urban wildlife, and act as filters to help clean up watersheds. Beyond these benefits, the wetland is located just outside our ‘Bob Gress Wildlife Observatory,' providing a prime spot where visitors to the GPNC can enjoy observing the animals that live here."

The Five Star and Urban Waters 2016 winners were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 220 applications. The partnership bases consideration for funding upon educational and training opportunities for youth and the community at large as well as ecological, cultural and economic benefits. These projects also involve a high degree of partnership between local government agencies, elected officials, community groups, businesses, schools and conservation organizations for improving local water quality and restoring important fish and wildlife habitats.

The $7.4 million projects that will restore wildlife habitat and urban waters. These projects will engage thousands of volunteers, students and local residents in community-based conservation projects.

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The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to achieve a healthy balance of economics, conservation and community to support sustainability of the natural ecosystems and working lands of Kansas.

The Great Plains Nature Center is a cooperative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, and the City of Wichita Department of Park and Recreation. The Nature Center features the Koch Habitat Hall, Owl's Nest gift shop, Coleman Auditorium, and 2 miles of Chisholm Creek Park nature trails. The Friends of the Great Plains Nature Center is a support organization formed to increase awareness and help sustain the Center's environmental education programs, organize and promote special events, recruit volunteers to assist staff, and raise funds for long-term viability.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13.6 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org