The Nature Conservancy announced Friday it has acquired an additional 152 acres of land it plans to add to the Cheyenne Bottoms wildlife area in Barton County.
Globally recognized as one of the most important stopover sites for migrating birds in the Americas, much of Cheyenne Bottoms is jointly preserved by The Nature Conservancy and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.
The newly acquired tract of land is adjacent to the 7,694 acres already owned by the conservancy, which connects to the nearly 20,000-acre state wildlife area, according to a release from the organization.
The conservancy plans to restore the wetland features of the property, which has been managed as cropland under previous ownership.
“Cheyenne Bottoms is one of only three extensive natural marsh complexes in Kansas,” says avian programs manager Robert L. Penner. “Wetland loss in the United States is estimated to be over 50 percent, and estimates of wetland loss in Kansas are similarly dramatic.”
“Restoring the wetland basins on this property will provide valuable habitat for both grassland birds and shorebirds, some of which are species of greatest conservation concern, like the endangered whooping crane,” Penner said.
Of the 478 species of birds that have been documented in Kansas, 346 have been observed using Cheyenne Bottoms.
These birds migrate north as far as western Alaska and the tundra at the edge of the Arctic and south to Louisiana, Texas, Central America and the far reaches of South America. Providing abundant food and a place to rest, Cheyenne Bottoms is an essential link in this migration.
The Nature Conservancy will retain the new property as an addition to the Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve, where the non-profit organization manages the land to ensure a diversity of wetland types to attract a diversity of bird species. It was one of the conservancy’s earliest land projects in Kansas.
“A single wetland type cannot provide all the resources required by many plant and animal species,” Penner said. “Placing this new tract of land under permanent conservation ownership helps us provide the diversity needed to meet complex conservation needs.”