and General Description
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in
Kansas has been driven by two guiding beliefs. The first is recognizing the value of our
native plant communities, not only for their biological diversity, but also their
sustainability and their productivity. The second has been to build into the Partners
Program the flexibility necessary to make it accommodate the needs of both the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service and the private landowner/producer.
The Kansas Partners for Fish and
Wildlife Program has utilized this philosophy to voluntarily assist private landowners to
restore, enhance, and develop thousands of acres of highly functional wetland, grassland,
and woodland habitats throughout the state. Since 1990, the Partners Program has partnered
with over 500 Kansas landowners. The number of new requests for assistance continues to
Gail Combs, Kansas farmer and Partners
cooperator, says this about the Kansas Partners Program, "This program does so much
good and works so well with me as an agricultural producer and an environmentalist, that
it hardly seems possible that a government program could work this well."
- Prairie restoration
- Prairie enhancement
- Riparian restoration
- Riparian enhancement
- Wetland restoration
- Wetland creation
- Bottomland hardwoods
- Oxbow restoration
- Environmental education
Project activities in western
Kansas are about 75% upland work and 25% wetland work.
Upland sites, in most
cases, are enhanced with the implementation of a grazing management system that follows
the general guidelines of "take half, leave half". This can be in the form of
rotational grazing, enhancing cattle distribution with additional fence and watering
sites, or by managing the timing of grazing to allow regrowth of grasses. Invading woody
species are removed or controlled in some manner if deemed a problem. The conservation and
enhancement of native prairie is given top priority.
The majority of the
wetland sites are playa lake restorations and wetland creations. Playa lakes are restored
by taking them out of production and planting a grass filterstrip buffer around the playa
to reduce sedimentation and provide wildlife habitat. Wetland creations are accomplished
with the construction of lowhead dams 3 to 4 feet in height and the installation of
in-line water control structures. A typical lowhead dam would measure 12 feet wide on the
top with 10 to 1 slopes, with the top of the structure serving as the spillway. Wetlands
are fenced if the area is being grazed.
In eastern Kansas,
conservation of existing tallgrass prairie is a top priority. This may include developing
grazing systems and adjusting grazing rates on native prairie, cross-fencing, water
developments, recommendations of burn frequency and timing, control of woody vegetation
through clipping or burning, and recommendations of herbicide applications for noxious
In cropland areas,
native grasslands are restored by no-till drilling native grasses at lower seeding rates
and native forbs at higher seeding rates.
Wetland restoration of
croplands is accomplished by constructing ditch plugs, low berms, shallow depressions and
installing water control structures.
Riparian protection and
restoration is accomplished through cross-fencing, fencing of riparnan areas and
re-vegetation with native plant communities (native grasses and forbs or bottomland
hardwoods through direct seeding).
The cost share ratios range from 10% to
90% and are figured on a site-by-site basis. Factors controlling cost share are: (1)
length of agreement, (2) total acres, and (3) wildlife and environmental benefits of the