Milford Wildlife Area News
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.