Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area News
All of the major construction projects have wrapped up. Dirt work has started on the Goose Pens. It should have only minimal impact on the management of the area. A water control structure will need to be replaced on the inlet canal that will briefly interrupt water diversions. Once complete, it will add an additional 100 acres of usable wetland to the property that will be used for Special Hunts for youth.
Silt removal continues in the inlet canal and along the ditches in Pool 2 to help get water into the West Hub for the new pump station. All of the old foot bridges to access pools 2, 3A, 3B, and 4A have been replaced. An additional 9 more foot bridges were added, for a total of 14 to help with hunter access. All blind islands have been rebuilt in pools 3A, 3B, 4A, and 4B. A few islands have also been rebuilt in the eastern portion of Pool 2. The islands should provide good cover for hunters to hide and allow them to space out better. The islands also provide excellent loafing and nesting areas for birds. The drought also helped with cattail control. Over the last 6 years, staff have worked to clear over 5,000 acres of cattails on the property. This has vastly improved habitat conditions and usable space on the property not only for waterfowl, but also all water birds like shorebirds.
Significant rains have finally fell this spring. However, it has done little to ease the dry conditions at the Bottoms since the drought was so severe across central and western Kansas. Water was available in the Wet Walnut, and it was diverted into Pool 1A. With the lack of soil moisture, it took a lot of water to saturate the ground. Hot conditions late in summer evaporated the majority of water on the property. Only 8" of water remains in Pool 1A, which isn't enough to put any amount of water on any perimeter pool.. The rest of the pools have only held water briefly after a rain. Habitat conditions in the pools are pretty good if there is water available to flood. Although the rains failed to fill the Bottoms, they have fallen in the right locations to prime the landscape for future runoff events. It is still going to take some very significant rains to fill the Bottoms.
Visit the Kansas Wetlands Education Center at Cheyenne Bottoms. They have educational exhibits directed at describing the role wetlands play in the natural world with a focus on Cheyenne Bottoms. Find out the wide variety of wetlands found in Kansas, you may be surprised at the diversity in this grassland state. Their location is in the southeast portion of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area along Kansas Highway 156. Their hours are Monday through Saturday 9 to 5, Sunday 1 to 5. They are closed Mondays from November 1 through March 31. The phone number is 620-566-1456.