Cheyenne Bottoms Habitat Restoration
Cheyenne Bottoms is the largest inland wetland in the United States. This 31 square-mile public wildlife area includes almost 20,000 acres of shallow wetlands and grass, which provide necessary habitat for migratory birds as they rest and feed. Cheyenne Bottoms is recognized internationally as a critical stop-over for millions of birds during their spring and fall migrations, including 350 different bird species, half of North America’s shorebirds, as well as whooping cranes and other endangered birds. Each year around 60,000 birders, hunters, and other nature enthusiasts visit from across the county, adding $2.8 million to the state’s annual economy.
Unfortunately, erosion in the heavily-farmed watershed is causing Cheyenne Bottoms to fill up with silt, which plugs water control structures and other infrastructure needed to keep the wetland in healthy, manageable condition. Invasive vegetation is also degrading the natural wetland habitat. Ducks Unlimited (DU) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) plan to restore and enhance portions of the wildlife area to ensure that it remains an ideal habitat for migrating birds and an important destination for birders and hunters.
This project will reengineer several wetland units to improve and restore hydrology by removing sediment from wetland areas, removing invasive vegetation, and replacing aging infrastructure for water management and pumping. These improvements will enable KDWPT staff to better manage water levels for ideal wetland habitat conditions, improving water quality and restoring natural ecosystem functions.
* Project restores natural hydrologic conditions to facilitate improved capture and infiltration of surface water and groundwater recharge