By Matt Hough, Manager of Ducks Unlimited's conservation programs in Kansas
We had another strong year in Kansas as we conserve habitat for migratory birds. With early setbacks due to high water, drying conditions later in the year allowed us to catch up on public and private land projects. Our diverse work across the state included adding new pumping infrastructure, installing levees, building water-control structures, removing sediment, recontouring wetland topography, improving grazing management capabilities, and repair work. We also assisted our partners on multiple projects to improve habitat and public access through leases and acquisitions.
See full Kansas state report.
We have a new focus we call People Projects, where we work with nontraditional partners on wetland projects in more populated areas than we have historically worked. With this strategy, we hope to create awareness of the multiple benefits wetlands provide, including groundwater recharge, improving water quality and reducing flood impacts. We are focusing our playa conservation efforts on specific communities where groundwater recharge is essential for long-term sustainability of local drinking water supplies. With robust partnerships, we have submitted multiple grants to focus these conservation efforts where they can benefit communities in Greeley and Wichita counties. We anticipate seeing new opportunities for People Projects in eastern Kansas where wetlands can help improve communities.
We continue to expand our private lands work to areas where landowners are requesting our assistance. This work includes Farm Bill program delivery in the playa region and large-scale engineering contracts around Quivira, Cheyenne Bottoms and the Ninnescah River. Through work with our partners, we closed on three donated conservation easements on private lands, permanently protecting the habitat.
In partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition, we have a new grant to assist landowners with wetland management, program opportunities and to collaborate on educational workshops. So far, we completed workshops at Gardner and Garden City with planned workshops in Syracuse, Lawrence and Abbyville. We have connected with dozens of landowners whom we anticipate will enroll in various conservation practices.
DU’s work in Kansas strengthens as we diversify our efforts, funding and those who support our program and our mission. We can always do more together!