MCPHERSON, Kansas, April 20, 2021 - A partnership between Ducks Unlimited, Williams and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) overhauled a public natural area beloved by wildlife and outdoors enthusiasts.
The McPherson Wildlife Area (MWA) provides more than 1,700 acres of managed habitat and lies within a 50-mile radius of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. MWA is part of a trifecta of public waterfowl habitat that provides critical resources for migrating waterfowl and other birds and incredible outdoor recreation for people. Endangered whooping cranes can be spotted in the area and a handicapped accessible photo blind ensures everyone has the opportunity to enjoy these and many other birds.
DU, Williams and KDWPT restored 160 acres at the wildlife area’s Shirk Marsh. The former agricultural field was drained a decade ago and no longer provided natural wildlife conditions. The restoration project included new infrastructure to manage water levels for waterfowl and shorebirds. It also included the planting of prairie grasses for quail, pheasants and other grassland birds and to act as pollinator habitat and increase carbon sequestration.
“Wetlands at MWA reduce flooding and runoff from agricultural fields in the watershed,” said Matt Hough, DU biologist for Kansas. “Shirk Marsh is the first of a series of connected wetlands in the complex and will serve to improve water downstream. Thanks to support from conservation partners like Williams, we can make improvements that will not only benefit the community, but also the wildlife that call this area home.”
The project was made possible by a $50,000 contribution by Williams to Ducks Unlimited’s Heartland Heritage and Habitat Initiative, which focuses on a major staging area for waterfowl during spring and fall migrations. The donation from Williams was used in conjunction with a North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant and funding from the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.
“Without partnerships like this, where we take private dollars, leverage them with federal and state funding and work with the landowning agency, DU would be unable to meet our conservation mission,” said Bob Locke, Ducks Unlimited director of development. “It’s all a very symbiotic relationship. We can do more together.”
KDWPT owns and operates the wildlife area and provided match for the NAWCA grant. The agency used funds from Williams to unlock the Pittman-Robertson funding. The strong relationship between DU and KDWPT is key for making projects like this happen.
“We take great pride in being responsible environmental stewards and are honored to support Ducks Unlimited,” said Matthew Baker, manager of engineering at Williams. “Doing what is right for our local communities is part of who we are at Williams, and this collaboration is one of the many ways we aim to preserve resources for future generations while making a positive impact today.”
In addition to the Shirk Marsh project, Williams’ contribution will enhance nearly 200 acres at MWA on Chain of Lakes and Big Basin Pool 7.
For more information visit www.ducks.org, and be sure to follow DU’s news Twitter feed – @DUNews1937 – to get the most up-to-date news from Ducks Unlimited.
About Ducks Unlimited
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 15 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.