Event marks extensive and ongoing renovation of historic Cloud County wetland
JAMESTOWN — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), local sportsmen, area residents, and political leaders joined the leaders of several conservation organizations in dedication of the Jamestown Wetland Renovation Project on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the area's Gun Club Marsh dam site. The dedication marks the end of phase one in a multi-phase project to renovate historic wetlands that had deteriorated due to sediment deposited in the wetlands by the Marsh Creek Watershed, which drains 138 square miles in northcentral Kansas.

“This project is the result of a partnership among 15 different groups and organizations,” said area manager Rob Unruh. “Together, they supported the $3.2 million renovation. Without this renovation, the marsh would have filled with sediment and cattails and eventually ceased to exist.

"Current farming and conservation methods on the watershed have drastically reduced the amount of sediment that now comes into the marsh," Unruh explained, "but the renovation allows us improved water management, better control of excessive cattail stands, better wildlife habitat, and improved access for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts."

The project began in 2001 with public meetings followed by a feasibility study in 2003, drainage of channels in 2004, construction of the new 300-acre Marsh Creek Marsh in 2005, raising the height of the Gun Club Marsh dam in 2006, and sub-dividing a berm and bypass canal in Gun Club Marsh in 2007. In 2008, however, Jamestown Marsh was flooded eight times. That damage was repaired earlier this year.

The division of Gun Club Marsh into two units allows different management activities in each marsh unit, so water can be conserved in dry years. All of the water can be channeled into either unit, allowing the marsh to be at optimum condition for wildlife and hunting.

KDWP and Ducks Unlimited enlisted the professional services of Schwab-Eaton Engineers to design and manage construction of the project. Chris Cox, a Concordia native, was the principle engineer.

The dedication began at 9:30 a.m. when Greenwing Legacy members (youth members) of Ducks Unlimited banded geese with leg bands and neck collars, then released them onto the marsh. After a short break, a drawing was held in which Lori Slate, Jewell, won a copy of a limited edition print entitled “Jamestown Revisited,” by wildlife artist Harold Roe.

Speakers at the dedication highlighted the value of the renovation and the importance of the 15-organization partnership that made it possible. Master of ceremonies was Ducks Unlimited's Scott Manley, of Jackson, Miss. Speakers included KDWP's assistant secretary of Operations Keith Sexson, Greenwing Legacy Advocate Jane Irvine, former Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commissioner Tom Warner, The Nature Conservancy's Bill Watson, the Kansas Alliance of Wetlands and Streams' Dennis Haag, Pheasants Forever's Jordan Martincich, CloudCorp's Kirk Lowell, the Playa Lakes Joint Venture's Barth Couch, state Representative Elaine Bowers, and Mayor Judy Hill of Jamestown.

Partners of the Jamestown Wetland Renovation Project were KDWP, North American Wetland Conservation Council (NAWCA), Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, Pheasants Forever, Westar Energy, Kansas Wildlife Federation, CloudCorp, Cloud County Board of Commissioners, city of Jamestown, Cloud County Convention and Tourism, Jewell County Board of Commissioners, Republic County Board of Commissioners, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Jamestown is a 4,729-acre public hunting area situated 15 miles west and north of Concordia in the Central Flyway, making it an important migration stop-over for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other water birds, including the endangered whooping crane, a frequent visitor in both spring and fall.