Staff hope to have area repaired in time for waterfowl season
ST. PAUL -- Heavy rainfall in southeast Kansas in early July caused the Neosho River and its tributaries to overflow and breach levees that normally keep the river out of the Neosho Wildlife Area, a popular waterfowl hunting spot just east of St. Paul. Extensive flooding and considerable damage to the infrastructure of the wildlife area resulted.

The flood waters breached the levees that serve as flood control in approximately 10 locations. The most damaging of these breaches occurred at the outlet structure for Pool 1, next to the pump house. This structure was completely replaced last summer to repair leaks. The flood waters removed all of the fill dirt from the top of the tube and broke apart the sections of reinforced concrete tubing. Water was still draining out of Pool 1 as of July 10, so the extent of the damage is not fully known.

All other breaches in the levee system occurred along the west boundaries of Pool 1 and Pool 4. The main road through the wildlife area was also severely damaged by running water and is closed indefinitely until repairs can be made. Repairs are scheduled to begin as soon as water recedes enough to allow equipment access. Those structures and areas that hold water, as well as roadways to these areas, will take priority as repair begins.

"Duck hunters should rest assured that repairs should be made in plenty of time for the waterfowl season," says assistant area manager J.R. Glenn. "The most common question being raised by concerned waterfowl hunters now is how the crops came through all of the flooding. Unfortunately, the short answer is that they didn’t. Approximately 300 acres of row crops within the hunting pools were wiped out by the flooding, and it's too late in the summer to replant row crops to provide food for migrating waterfowl."

This does not mean that migrating waterfowl will have nothing to eat at Neosho. Glenn says that area staff are stocking up on Japanese millet and buckwheat that will be broadcast throughout many of the marshes over the next few weeks as water levels drop and expose soil.

"With any luck, Mother Nature will help us out by providing good moist-soil plant growth," Glenn adds. "Given the wet conditions and relatively mild temperatures this spring, there is reason to hope that we will see a good response from later germinating plant species such as barnyard grass, which is an excellent food source for waterfowl."

For more information, phone 620-449-2539. Area staff will be extremely busy over the next few weeks creating duck habitat, so they may be difficult to reach. Callers are encouraged to leave a message, and calls will be returned as soon as possible. Updates will be posted on the Neosho Wildlife Area website as repairs progress.