Mountain-Prairie Region  Partners for Fish & Wildlife
Introduction and General Description

butterfly on Kansas wildflower photoThe 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 accelerate.

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."

Kansas Activities

  • Prairie restoration
  • Prairie enhancement
  • Riparian restoration
  • Riparian enhancement
  • Wetland restoration
  • Wetland creation
  • Bottomland hardwoods
  • Oxbow restoration
  • Environmental education

Technical Assistance

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 plant control.

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 project.