Photo: Greater White-fronted Goose
"Breeding across the tundra from Nunavut to Siberia, across Russia, and in Greenland, the Greater White-fronted Goose has one of the largest ranges of any species of goose in the world." Learn more about this and other birds at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds website. Photo courtesy of Tom Grey.
In The News
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Restores 760 Acres of Wetland Habitat
In 2011, with help from a $25,000 PLJV ConocoPhillips grant, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge embarked on a project to restore and enhance 760 acres of wetland habitat. The first unit of 34 acres was completed in February; restoration work is scheduled to resume in August or September and continue through the fall.
The refuge, located in south central Kansas, is a sand prairie-wetland complex with various types of wetlands supporting a diversity of wildlife, including migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. It is one of the few migration “stepping stones” in the southern Great Plains and is recognized as an Audubon Important Bird Area and a site of importance to shorebirds by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, as well as a Ramsar wetland of international importance. Many of these birds — such as the Northern Pintail, Mallard, Greater White-fronted Goose, Snowy Plover, American Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher, Whooping and Sandhill Cranes, and American White Pelican — are PLJV priority species.
Decades ago, soils were moved to form dikes and ditches leaving many narrow, deep open water sites, called borrow areas, that cannot be completely drained except by evaporation. These borrow areas and other cattail-choked sites are being transformed into moist-soil habitat that can be more efficiently drained and flooded to encourage annual plant and invertebrate production and increase the availability of food for shorebirds and waterfowl.
“When we recontour the wetland basins, we can manage them more effectively and efficiently,” says Refuge Manager Dan Severson. “In a normal year, our goal is to be able to flood those units at a more optimum level with less water.”
In addition to the borrow areas, the wetlands have been negatively impacted by the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer due to pumping for irrigation of agricultural crops, water development projects, and urbanization. The restoration project is only one of the ways Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is dealing with a declining water table. According to Severson, “Other management practices — such as controlling salt cedar, Russian olive, and cottonwood trees growing in the prairie uplands — also help us cope with the fact that less water is getting into the refuge.”
Based on an assessment of the impacts of climate change in the playa lakes region by the World Wildlife Fund, Anthropogenic Climate Change in the Playa Lakes Joint Venture Region, the complex of wetland habitats occurring in and around Quivira National Wildlife Refuge may become even more critical to wetland-dependent species over time. The assessment predicts drier conditions in the south and southwest, which is likely to shift bird migrations to the east and range distributions to the north, making the wetlands at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge even more important in the future.
The restoration project at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is made possible by funds from Ducks Unlimited, US Fish and Wildlife Service, George Stumps Wetland Trust and Playa Lakes Joint Venture.