DU and partners receive grant to enhance Kansas prairie wetlands

Fast Facts:
•    Eleven Kansas counties will benefit from NAWCA grant.
•    The grant will fund second phase of the Kansas Prairie Wetlands.
•    Projects cover "area of significance" to North American waterfowl.

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – June 20, 2016 – A $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant means improved wildlife habitat and access for Kansas residents. Ducks Unlimited (DU) and partners received the grant to complete the second phase of the Kansas Prairie Wetlands program.

The project area includes important wetland complexes identified as areas of significance to North American waterfowl and other wetland birds. The complexes provide a critical area to rest and refuel as birds migrate from wintering habitat in Texas and along the Gulf Coast to the breeding grounds of the northern prairies.

The bulk of the conservation work will take place on almost 5,000 acres of public land. The properties are open to outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing, bird watching, boating, hiking and outdoor education.

DU and partners will match the grant with more than $2 million. Partners include the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), Kansas Wildscape Foundation, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, Natural Resource Damage Assessment Board (NRDAB), Kansas Department of Transportation, The Army Corps of Engineers and several private landowners, as well as other businesses, organizations and individuals.

Grant projects include:

Barton County: Cheyenne Bottoms will be getting a face-lift. Project partner The Nature Conservancy (TNC) will install a large water-control structure to restore 850 acres of wetland basins in the Cheyenne Bottoms complex. A drainage ditch is draining this basin and the water-control structure will help restore the wetland's hydrology and manipulate water levels. This critical area is used during spring migration by 45 percent of all shorebirds in the Western Hemisphere.

Stafford County: DU will restore the historic Big Salt Marsh on the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The project will restore the natural hydrology of 2,000 acres of shallow water marsh, including one of the most important whooping crane migration stopovers in the world.

Kingman County: Through new and improved water-control structures and levees, DU and partners will flood 50 acres of wetlands on the Byron Walker Wildlife Area (WA). DU will remove trees to restore additional wetlands on this WA, owned by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT).

McPherson County: McPherson WA will benefit from a 90-acre restoration project. DU will restore drained wetlands by constructing levees and installing water-control structures, as well as restore native grasses.

Lincoln County: Gurley Marsh WA needs fencing for cattle grazing to promote healthy wetland and upland habitat. The installation of a water-control structure will allow KDWPT to better manage water levels for ideal habitat conditions. Wetlands and grasslands will be restored and enhanced.

Jefferson County: DU will restore wetlands and grasslands on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) property at Perry Reservoir.

Ellsworth County: The ACOE's Kanapolis Reservoir will receive wetland and grassland restorations.

Cherokee County: The Mitchelson Acquisition is a KDWPT project funded by the NRDAB. The acquisition of the Mitchelson property will provide public access to an additional 397 acres. The property consists of 86 acres of palustrine emergent marsh, 281 acres of native tallgrass prairie, and 30 acres of bottomland riparian habitat.

Also so in Cherokee County, a partnership with the Kansas Wildscape Foundation, (NRDAB), Ducks Unlimited, and TNC will acquire an additional 500 acres of previously restored wetlands and 200 acres of native tallgrass prairies to give the public 700 new acres of land for year-around access.

Greeley County: The large playa renovation project in Greeley County is DU's first private playa wetland project in Kansas. This project will restore 25 acres through sediment removal and hydrologic restoration along with 10 acres of tallgrass prairie buffer.

Harvey County: DU will restore habitat on a private property near Newton where the landowner is also donating an easement. The donated easement, DU's first in Kansas, will provide match for the NAWCA grant, which will help pay for restoration work on a public lands projects.

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.

Media Contact:
Becky Jones Mahlum
701-355-3507
bjonesmahlum@ducks.org