Milford Wildlife Area News
The 2019 flood waters receded in December of 2019. Given the severe level of flooding, up to 30 feet over conservation pool and duration of 8+ months, the damage to our infrastructure is still needing to be repaired in many wetland cells. All permanent pumps were damaged in the flooding, these include the West Broughton Youth/Mentor area, North Smith and Beichter/Martin wetlands. Repairs will hopefully be completed on the Youth pump before teal season so we will be able to flood those cells throughout the duck season. All of the electrical connections for the portable pumps are badly corroded and will need to be replaced. This work is on going but we plan to have at least 4 portable pumps functioning on Lower Smith, Quimby and Zach Hudec wetlands. These repairs have been delayed to our lack of funds to make the repairs. The wildlife area is funded primarily by agricultural funds and last year approximately 90% of the fields were flooded out and all income was lost. That means we have many repairs to make with very little funds to do so.
During the last week of July we received heavy rains both locally and up stream which caused the Republican river to flood yet again. The river came up 6.5 feet over flood stage and filled all the wetlands, the lake also rose 8 feet above pool. Boards were put in on as many water control structures as possible to catch as much flood water as we could especially since we won't be able to pump some of these wetlands this fall.
The boat ramps, wetland berms and roads are passable and maintained.
Vegetation quality and quantity is quite good with a heavy smart weed component and generous seed production across most wetlands. Several patches of undesirable cockle-bur and velvet leaf were sprayed and mowed and some leftover millet seed was broadcasted. These millet plantings were unfortunately flooded out a few weeks later when the river came out of it's banks in late July.
West Broughton Youth/Mentor: This is the highest priority pump repair we have due to the need to perfect water rights which will impact the amount of water we can pump in the future. The wetland cells themselves look pretty good, several patches of cockle bur were sprayed/mowed and millet was broadcasted on a few pools. The structure on the south cell needs to be replaced and materials are on hand but due to the July flooding this repair was unable to be made.
Zach Hudec: The structures and berms are all in good condition. Portions of the cells were unable to be farmed this year due a significant silt deposit in the first and second cell. This silt deposit extends through the pump site as well. Silt will need to be removed and the corroded electrical connections and fuses replaced. We plan to have these repairs completed prior to big duck season. Due to the current agricultural lease we are unable to start pumping until October 10th.
Martin: The wetland cell has good vegetation and all boards have been put in the structures to hold as much runoff as possible. The pump that service both Martin and Beichter will not be operational this year due to the high cost of repairs and lack of funds.
Beichter: The south structure was badly eroded during the 2019 flood. Some rock has been placed around the structure but more work is needed. The July flood further delayed these repairs. The pump that service both Martin and Beichter will not be operational this year due to the high cost of repairs and lack of funds. The road leading into an area commonly called "high banks" is now open year-round providing improved access to Beichter wetland and the republican river.
Quimby: Excellent vegetation growth in both the north pool and south pools. The electrical connections are badly damaged and will need to be replaced prior to pumping but we plan to have this area pumped by big duck season. The south pool is no longer farmed and is now managed for moist soils. Boards have been put in the structure to hold the flood water and there is currently good water in both the north and south pools.
Mall Creek: The 2019 flood has eroded several places on the spillway and repairs were unable to be made due to wet conditions. Boards were placed in the water control structure to hold as much water as possible up to the breaks in the spillway. This wetland was unable to be dried down this year due to a higher than normal lake level and July flooding. Vegetation growth was minimal at best, lots of wide open water, very little flooded vegetation and food production.
Lower Smith/Gatesville: Several attempts were made to release as much water out of lower smith as possible to encourage vegetation growth and food production. Some desirable vegetation was able to grow prior to the July flood. Boards were put back in the structure to hold what we could of the July flood waters. Electrical connections are badly corroded and will need to be repaired and fuses replaced prior to pumping this area. Our goal is to have this area ready to pump by big duck season. This wetland is currently nearly full of water.
North Smith: Some mowing of velvet leaf and cockle-bur was done and we saw some desirable plant response. The west structure is badly damaged and needs to be replaced, spillways need to be reinforced with rock and the permanent pump that is used to flood this area is not operational this year due to the high cost of repairs. Boards have been put in the structures to hold as much flood water or run off as possible but this wetland is currently dry.
Steve Lloyd Lower Refuge (No hunting): All boards have been put in the 3 water control structures to hold as much water as possible. These pools are currently full.
Non Toxic Shot and use of Isportsman is required to hunt the Milford Wildlife Area Dove Fields.
Adults are required to be accompanied by a youth hunter age 17 or younger to hunt the dove field located within the West Broughton Youth/Mentor Area.
On July 2nd, several volunteers assisted greatly with replacing the Zach Hudec wetland memorial sign and replacing the base rocks for four other wetland stone signs. These signs were damaged in the 2019 flooding on the Milford Wildlife Area and have been lying on the ground since the flood waters receded in December of this past year. The financial assistance from the Zach Hudec family and donated equipment and expertise from Joe Warren and Grandpa Boone's Cabin & Outfitters made this project possible. Thank you to everyone involved!
Several of the seasonal roads were damaged by the flooding this past year and will not be open by March 1st. Martin Bottom, Beichter, River weirs west of the broughton bridge and the youth area seasonal roads were hit especially hard and are waiting on heavy equipment to arrive to make repairs or for the silt deposits to dry before it can be removed. Other seasonal roads are being graded and some rock is being hauled to improve conditions and will be opened throughout the first week of March.
The refuge area will be expanded to include an additional 200 acres along the southwest corner to the private property line. This change will take effect Match 1, 2020. The previous boundary was difficult to distinguish and thus enforce.
In addition to the refuge expansion, the seasonal road leading to the river known as "High Banks" will be open year-round also starting March 1, 2020.
Due to both the large number of recently flooded acres we have from last year and respiratory concerns due to Covid 19 only 5 prescribed spring burns were conducted during April this year totaling 253 acres. This should 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.
Summer of 2019: 12 prescribed summer (growing season) burns were conducted on Milford this year between late July and mid September totaling 219 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.
Due to the 2019 extreme flooding, we've been able to focus on tree and brush removal in some of the upland areas. Pictured below are two areas we've been working on commonly referred to as Sugarbowl and south of the timber creek bridge. These areas were summer burned, remaining brush was then mowed or mulched, trees were cut with chainsaws and patches of invasive cool season grasses such as brome and fescue were sprayed after the killing frost put the native warm season grasses into dormancy so they wouldn't be harmed. Herbicide applications will be done this next spring and summer as needed to kill the brush as it continues to sprout.
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, quail 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.
Gates and parking areas have been installed on the area for several years now. 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 to provide more accessible fishing access. The primary objective of installing the gates is to improve the overall integrity of the wildlife area by restricting vehicle access to a few pieces of the wildlife area. These gates should not only improve constituents wildlife interactions, they will also help reduce the spread of 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, in addition to the seasonal road vehicle access.