DU and partners bring new life to Kansas marsh

The Jamestown Wildlife Area will be ready for 2020 fall flight

JAMESTOWN, Kansas – Nov. 4, 2019 - Ducks Unlimited and partners have finished another phase of the restoration work at the Jamestown Wildlife Area (JWA) that is already drawing birds. DU, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and partners restored 730 acres of wetland habitat at the JWA’s Gamekeeper Marsh. The work involved raising the dam and installing a dike that split the marsh in half to allow for increased management capabilities and more hunting opportunities.

Rob Unruh, wildlife area manager at the Jamestown Wildlife Area, says sedimentation had degraded the large marsh to a point where staff had trouble doing any type of management activities.

“The marsh had become a big cattail field. Now, it’s kind of a ‘Field of Dreams’ scenario. If you build it, they will come,” Unruh said. “We have seen whooping cranes already use the new project this year. Next fall, we will be full-blown open for business. We did the same restoration on another part of the property in 2008, and it’s changed that area drastically. Cattail has been reduced and moist soil plants are starting to grow.”

The restored and protected wetlands provide important stopover habitat for waterfowl during migration periods, particularly mallards, northern pintails, blue-winged teal, Canada geese and snow geese. Several other restoration phases are complete at Jamestown Wildlife Area.

“The marsh will benefit local water users,” Unruh said. “We can hold the water when we need it for migration and then release it into the river in the summer when irrigators and communities need it.”

The restoration resulted from a unique, large partnership put together for the project, including local governments, tourism, economic development agencies, utilities, government agencies and wildlife organizations. Partners in the Jamestown WA restoration include Ducks Unlimited, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, The Nature Conservancy, Kansas Alliance for Wetland and Streams, Jewell County Board of Commissioners, Kansas Wildlife Federation, Cloud County Tourism, Republic County Board of Commissioners and Westar Energy.

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