Milford Wildlife Area

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Use caution while driving along roads around the wildlife area.   There are a lot of roads closed due to high water.  Turn around, don't drown.

There are approximately 19,000 acres of public land surrounding Milford Reservoir on the west side and the upper end. All 19,000 acres are open to public hunting. The Steve Lloyd refuge contains an additional 1100 acres. Both the public hunting area and the refuge are managed to maximize the production of various wildlife species.

There are currently 8 newly formed wetlands, the first of which was created in 2001. These wetlands are located along the Republican River all north of the Milford Reservoir. They surround the Steve Lloyd Refuge area. They are primarily filled with natural vegetation but there are a few that are comprised of flooded food plots. They range in size from 60 to 250 acres making-up approximately 2300 acres of wetlands when all pools are full.

Numerous opportunities exist for those who wish to observe or photograph wildlife on the area. The abundant and diversified habitat at Milford supports many species of nongame birds, mammals, reptiles and aquatic life.

Hunters will find a variety of game including quail, pheasant, prairie chicken, duck, goose, rabbit, turkey, deer and squirrel. Trappers are also active throughout the season in pursuit of raccoon, muskrat, beaver and other furbearers .

1782 10th Road
Clay Center,KS    67432
Area News - Updated: 12/06/2018
2018 Dove Fields
2018 Burning Season Totals:

11 prescribed spring burns were conducted between March and April this year totaling 2,855 acres.  We did fewer burns and they were larger in size than we typically aim for, several of these burns were 300+ acres in size.  We were able to do several cooperative burns with neighboring land owners and burn some pieces that hadn't been burned in many years.  This will provide good brood rearing habitat near nesting habitat in many locations this year as well as provide more desirable nesting habitat in the next couple of years on the grasslands that were burned this spring. Prescribed fire is used as a habitat management tool to reduce woody invasion of trees and shrubs in native grass stands, minimize invasive grass species such as brome and promote fire tolerant desirable tree species in timber stands, all without using herbicides.  74 brush piles were burned this past winter providing for safer spring burning conditions.  Many of these brush piles had been sitting for several years waiting for adequate snowfall to burn them safely.

4 prescribed summer (growing season) burns were conducted on Milford this year between late July and mid September totaling 1,406 acres.  The primary goals of the summer burns depends on the site but typically they are intended to reduce woody encroachment of trees and shrubs, temporarily reduce native grasses in effort to stimulate more forb (wildflower) growth and to reduce seed production of noxious weeds, particularly sericea lespedeza.  A summer burn often stays void of cover throughout the winter which provides a longer window for the removal of trees and brush within the burn area during the dormant season.

2018 Wetland Conditions

The Republican River crested 6 feet over flood stage on September 5th which has/will destroy much of the habitat and food value of the vegetation in the wetlands.  Milford lake is expected to reach up to 5 feet above conservation pool which will also damage much of the shoreline vegetation.  

North smith, lower smith, Mall creek, Beichter and the refuge pools are completely inundated with flood waters.

North Smith- This is the second year this area has not been in agricultural production and we are still battling weed issues.  Several strips of millet and corn were planted.  The large clump of trees were mowed and sprayed in an effort to create more desirable vegetation.  Velvet leaf, bindweed and cockle bur were still present in patches.

Lower Smith- for the first time in many years this area had finally dried out due to the drought conditions during much of the growing season.   The native vegetation had responded nicely with quite a bit of annual smart weed and barnyard grass.

Mall Creek- the water erosion in the spillway was repaired for a second time and we are hoping it will hold up to the current flooding.  The native vegetation had also responded nicely to the drought conditions and there was quite a bit of vegetation growth and seed production in areas that are usually too deep to grow much.

Quimby Creek wetland-the small north pool had some herbicide spraying done in an effort to increase plant diversity.  A short season corn was also planted in a few strips.  The south pool is planted to corn.  Plan to pump in October.

Zach Hudec- this area is currently in corn and soybeans, plan to pump in October

West Broughton Youth/Mentor Area- a short season corn was planted in several of the cells, undesirable vegetation was sprayed in several areas.  The north cell was pumped for teal season prior to the flooding event.  The river is currently too high to run the pump.

Beichter Bottom- this area had been pumped for teal season, some strips of milo had been planted in one area to promote some plant diversity

Martin Bottom- strips of short season corn were planted in this area, undesirable vegetation was sprayed and the native vegetation had responded well.  Plan to pump as needed after flood waters recede.

2018 Completed Wetland Projects

Mall Creek Wetland:

The eroded spillway was repaired (again) in July when the water levels were low.

North Smith Wetland:

A new culvert was installed to move pump water from the pump canal to the wetland area.  The old culvert had developed a hole which hampered management access.

Portable Pump Repairs:

A new electric drive has been ordered to replace one the burned up on one of the portable pumps.  This will make all 5 pumps operational.

Timber Stand Improvement (TSI)

Efforts are being made to improve the quality of our timber stands.  Chainsaws,herbicides, prescribed fire and mulching/mowing are being used in various areas to reduce undesirable tree species (Locust, elm, hackberry, cedar) and promote desirable species (Oak, walnut, hickory).  We recently completed some work near North Smith, Mall Creek, Quimby Creek and Beichter Bottom.  Undesirable trees were cut or girdled and left standing.   Several other timber stands, particularly creek drainages, have been targeted as areas in need of improvement.  In many areas, the majority of our desirable trees such as oaks are dying out or being shaded out by undesirable tree species.  Oaks are not a shade tolerate species meaning they require some sunlight to grow.  Many of the areas where TSI has been done will look pretty bare for the first several years until the seedlings develop into young trees.  In the meantime, the downed trees and increased growth of the understory will provide cover for many wildlife species including deer and turkeys.

Handicapped Vehicle Access Permits Available For Two Designated Areas on Milford Wildlife Area

Both areas will remain open to regular public hunting but will also be available for handicapped vehicle access by special permit.

A valid state issued handicapped permit and a permit from Milford Wildlife Area is required.

Please call the Milford Wildlife Area office for more information 785-461-5402.

North Area: Southwest of 13th Road and Rainbow Road Intersection

South Area: Northeast of Ava Road and Rebecca Road Intersection

Year-Round Prescribed Burning

The Milford Wildlife Area will be conducting prescribed burns throughout the year. The timing of these burns varies according to our management goals for each burn. Overall, we aim to control/reduce woody invasion, noxious weeds and promote more forbs in our grass stands to provide better brood rearing and nesting habitat for upland game birds and provide other benefits to many wildlife species.

Resprouting Hedgerows

Over the past several years we have been cutting mature hedgerows in hopes of promoting new growth that will offer a good quality of cover for numerous wildlife species, particularly upland birds.  We will move around the area periodically to cut hedgerows to promote various stages of vegetation growth on these hedgerows. Firewood permits are required to cut any dead AND down wood and are available free of charge by calling our office at 785-461-5402. Firewood is for personal use only and may not be sold commercially. Vehicles are not allowed off of maintained roads or inside gates or "no vehicles allowed" signs. Trees will be piled along roadways where practical. 

Gates and Parking Areas

Numerous gates and parking areas have been installed on the area. These parking areas are meant to provide a safe area to park vehicles off of roadways while visiting the area. A few dead end roads have been closed, many others will be open seasonally as posted from March 1-September 1 unless posted otherwise. The primary objective of installing the gates is to improve the overall integrity of the wildlife area by restricting vehicle access. These gates should not only improve constituents wildlife interactions, they will also reduce the high volume of trash, off-road vehicle use, poaching and vandalism that has occurred on the area in the past. The Steve Lloyd upper and lower refuge is closed to all activities year round, while the rest of the Wildlife Area is open to foot traffic within the gated areas.

General Information
1782 10th Road
Clay Center, KS    67432
Office Hours:
8am to 4:30pm However we are a field office so hours are subject to change

Milford Reservoir & WA (PDF 572.14 kB)

Manager: Kristin Kloft

Assistant Manager: Justin Wren

Phone: (785) 461-5402

Special Regulations

Camping, camp fires, off-road vehicle use, riding horses, and target shooting are prohibited activities. Camping can be done inside Milford State Park

Refuge areas are closed to all hunting and off-road activities throughout the year. There is one access road to the Steve Lloyd Overlook that is open year-round. Any off-road activities along this roadway are prohibited.

Free daily hunt permits are required to hunt waterfowl within the wetlands complex.

No motorized boats are allowed in any of the wetland areas except Mall Creek/Peterson Bottoms.

Only non-toxic shot is allowed in the wetland areas. The perimeters of these areas are posted.

Special Features

The West Broughton area has been designated a Youth/Mentor Area for all activities. Each mentor age 18 or older must be accompanied by a youth 17 years old or younger.

Here is a complete list of Public Land Regulations or you can download the regulation summary.


Milford Reservoir began operation in 1965 and the former Forestry, Fish and Game Commission began operation of the public hunting area in 1967.

Milford Facilities
Zach Hudec Wetland Parking Area
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 18.482 W97 03.153

West Broughton Youth Marsh Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 19.143 W97 03.785

Upper Smith Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 16.680 W97 01.506

Sugarbowl Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 14.127 W96 58.986

Martin Bottom Wetland South Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 16.856 W97 02.581

Steve Lloyd Refuge Outlook
  • Type of Facility: Wildlife Viewing
  • Location of Facility: N39 15.405 W97 00.879

Quimby Creek Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 11.025 W97 00.188

Martin Bottom Wetland North Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 17.552 W97 02.626

Mall Creek Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 15.767 W96 59.884

Lower Smith Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 16.037 W97 00.802

Gatesville Boat Ramp
  • Type of Facility: Boat Ramp
  • Location of Facility: N39 15.994 W97 00.726

Beichter Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 17.547 W97 03.181

Milford Wildlife Area Waterfowl Report - 01/25/2019
Waterfowl numbers

We've now had 4 flood events this fall.  The river crested 6 feet above flood stage in early September and 1 foot above in early October and 3 feet above in early December and again in late December.  The boat ramps on Gatesville/Lower Smith and Mall Creek are not accessible due to ice.  All wetlands, river and the north end of the lake are currently iced over.   

The COE is hoping to reach their target elevation of 3 feet below pool soon.  This will make it extremely difficult to hold water in the wetland pools.  The youth area and Zach Hudec may be able to be maintained by pumping if conditions permit (no ice).  If the river/lake is too low the North Smith and Beichter/Martin pumps are not operational.

Waterfowl counts given on this report are based on what was observed on the day the report is updated. Waterfowl numbers vary greatly from day to day and weather conditions and hunting pressure will affect the numbers of waterfowl on the area.

No ducks and 1,000 geese (mix of canadas and snows) were observed on the area.


REMINDER: Late duck season is January 19th-27th.  For more information, visit


Lake level Current Level is 1141.57 and Conservation Pool is 1144.4 The dam is releasing 2,000 CFS. The inflow into the lake is 3,050 CFS.
Hunting conditions

Vegetation growth and seed production was desirable in many of the wetland areas due to early dry conditions, prior to the flooding caused by the river and lake.  All managed wetlands currently have either pumped water or flood water in them.  The high flood waters have damaged the quality and food value of the vegetation in the wetlands.

No activites/hunting allowed in the Steve Lloyd Wetland/Refuge.

Motorized boats are only allowed in the Mall Creek wetland, electric motors are considered "motorized". All other public hunting wetlands are open to NON motorized boats and walk in hunting.

Expected hunting success Poor

Do NOT drive on dikes. Vehicles disrupt and discourage waterfowl from using the wetland areas. We have had several dikes being damaged due to unauthorized vehicles driving on them. Scouting is best done on foot to evaluate bird numbers and habitat conditions.

Please report any vehicles on dikes and anyone seen disturbing our pumps. Without the pumps in optimal condition we are unable to pump the wetlands to their greatest potential.

Remember - an electronic permit/sign-in on Isportsman is required for all hunting on Milford Wildlife Area. All hunters (youth included) must first register online by creating an account.  Hunters can then check in using the I-sportsman system from any phone or internet device. The information collected and comments received are very useful in establishing future management goals for the area. for more information on seasons and limits.