The Big Dry Arm Spring Storm in the Great Basin Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Reserve March Morning on the Platte River After a Spring Storm in the Great Basin Hunting Upland Birds at Kingsbury Lake Waterfowl Production Area Sandhill Migration on the Platte River Badlands Sunrise The Green River at Ouray NWR North Park Lupines Moab Sunset

Partners for Fish & Wildlife - Kansas


Overview | Accomplishments | Kansas PFW Strategic Plan | Tallgrass Legacy Alliance | Comanche Pool | Contact Us | Open / Close All

Mixed grass in the Red Hills

Mixed grass in the Red Hills. Credit: USFWS.

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 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."

Overview »

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Activities | Technical Assistance | Habitats of Special Concern | Conservation Strategies | Partners

Kansas Activities

Waterfowl in Kansas. Credit: USFWS.

Waterfowl in Kansas. Credit: USFWS.

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

Technical Assistance

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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.

Habitats of Special Concern

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Tallgrass prairie in Flint Hills, Kansas. Credit: USFWS.

Tallgrass prairie in Flint Hills, Kansas. Credit: USFWS.

The tallgrass prairie is considered to be North America’s most altered biome. Less than 4% of this globally unique grassland remains intact. The State of Kansas harbors 80% of the remaining North American tallgrass prairie.

More than 700 plant species compose this unique plant community. Over 250 bird species, 60 species of mammals, 35 species of reptiles, amphibians, and countless species of insects, all form this rich tapestry of life that we call the tallgrass prairie.

Tallgrass Legacy Alliance

The Kansas Partners Program has made the tallgrass prairie one of its top priorities. In April 1999, the Partners Program helped to initiate an alliance of individuals and organizations called the Tallgrass Legacy Alliance.

The mission of the Tallgrass Legacy Alliance is to preserve, enhance, and restore the tallgrass prairie. This will be accomplished through educational and financial partnerships with private landowners, operators, and private and public entities, in a manner that will strengthen and improve the economic, social, and cultural foundations of the region.

Tom Moxley, rancher and President of the Tallgrass Legacy Alliance says, "The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners Program is working on the ground for producers and the environment in the State of Kansas."

Conservation Strategies

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Threats | Conservation Strategies | Priorities | Future Needs

Prescribed fire. Credit: USFWS.

Prescribed fire. Credit: USFWS.

Threats - « Back to section top
Presently, a variety of issues threaten the stability of the region. Some of these are as follows:

  • Invasive species
  • Fragmentation
  • Lack of state and federal incentives to manage prairies in a sustainable manner
  • Decline in agricultural profitability
  • Loss of native plant and animal diversity
  • Lack of public understanding of the value of native prairies

Conservation Strategies - « Back to section top

Native Prairies
The cornerstone of the Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program is the recognition that in order to save the prairies, we must first keep the ranching community healthy and on the landscape. This premise is facilitated by working through producer organizations such as the Kansas Livestock Association, the Kansas Farm Bureau, and numerous other state, federal, and private partnerships.

The Kansas Partners Program works hand in hand with private landowners to tailor conservation projects to truly fit the needs of the individual producer and the needs of the environment.

As an example, invasive species control benefits both ranch profitability and biological diversity. The two together generate stability. Assistance with improved grazing strategies can lead to improved profit margin and greatly improved habitat for a large number of prairie species, such as the lesser and greater prairie chicken.

In general, native prairie restoration and enhancement projects average $50 per acre to complete.

Prairie Streams
Protecting and enhancing streamside corridors improves fish and wildlife habitats and water quality by limiting livestock access. Riparian restoation activities cost about $6,000 per mile of stream.

Wetland restorations provide economic opportunities in the form of recreational use and, at the same time, offer tremendous water quality and trust species benefits for society as a whole. A "win-win" project is the definition of success for the Kansas Partners Program. The cost of wetland restorations in Kansas is currently estimated at $400 per acre.

Priorities - « Back to section top

Native prairie is our number one priority. Tallgrass prairie is considered to be the most altered biome in North America, making it a habitat type of concern. Grassland nesting birds are the fastest declining guild of birds in North America today. Preservation efforts of the prairie ecosystem will be through educational and financial alliances/partnerships, on-the-ground grassland management assistance and grassland easement programs.

Playa lakes, other wetlands and riparian areas are the second priority of the Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program conservation efforts. Wetlands and riparian areas have been significantly altered in Kansas, especially playas, oxbows and saline wetlands which are considered habitats of special concern.

Our long term goal is to restore and enhance wildlife habitat for migratory birds, waterfowl, and threatened and endangered species. It is our goal to prevent further listing of plant and animal species within the state and to show positive gains in terms of acres preserved or restored relative to all habitats of concern.

FY 2017–2021 Targets - « Back to section top

  • 105 Private Landowner Agreements
  • 945 new conservation partnerships
  • Restore/enhance 53,000 upland acres
  • Restore/enhance 700 wetland acres
  • Restore/enhance 47 riparian/river/stream miles


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  • Key landowners
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service internal partners (including Refuges, Fisheries, Ecological Services,  Migratory Birds)
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism
  • The Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition
  • Tallgrass Legacy Alliance
  • Comanche Pool Prairie Resource Foundation
  • Smoky Hills Grazers
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Kansas Prescribed Fire Council
  • Kansas Prescribed Burn Association
  • U.S. National Park Service
  • Monarch Watch
  • Pheasants Forever Inc, and Quail Forever
  • USGS Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
  • Kansas Livestock Association
  • National Wild Turkey Federation
  • City of Manhattan, KS
  • Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society

  • Dow AgroSciences
  • USDA Farm Service Agency
  • Kansas Association of Conservation Districts
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Commission for Environmental Cooperation
  • Westar Energy
  • U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Playa Lakes Joint Venture
  • Kansas National Wildlife Refuge Project Leaders
  • D.O.D. Fort Riley Conservation Team
  • Kansas Biological Survey
  • Kansas Department of Health and Environment
  • Kansas Alliance for Wetlands & Streams
  • Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative
  • Kansas Forest Service
  • Noble Foundation
  • Great Plains Fire Science Exchange

Accomplishments »

Fremont's leather plant. Credit: USFWS.

Fremont's leather plant. Credit: USFWS.

The primary accomplishment of the Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife program is the development of a state-wide network of partners, sincerely committed to working towards an environmentally sound, fiscally stable, and socially acceptable method of land stewardship within the agricultural heartland of America.

FY 2020 Habitat Accomplishments

  • Upland Acres: 18,750 acres restored or enhanced
  • Wetland Acres: 247 acres restored or enhanced
  • River/Riparian Miles: 60 miles restored or enhanced
  • Number of private landowner projects: 43

FY 1992-2020 Cumulative Habitat Accomplishments

  • Upland Acres: 563,500 acres restored or enhanced
  • Wetland Acres: 24,380 acres restored or enhanced
  • River/Riparian Miles: 510 miles restored/enhanced

The Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife program has completed 855 projects with private landowners throughout the state. Congratulations and thank you to our partners for 28 years of restoring wildlife habitat together.

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Kansas PFW Strategic Plan »

Tallgrass Legacy Alliance »

Comanche Pool »

Lesser Prairie Chicken. Credit: USFWS.

Lesser Prairie Chicken. Credit: USFWS.

Over the past three years, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kansas Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has been involved in a partnership with state and federal agencies in both Kansas and Oklahoma with the common goal of improving and protecting our vanishing prairie resources. What makes this partnership unique is that it centers around a local, landowner-driven, non-profit resource foundation called the Comanche Pool Prairie Resource Foundation, known locally as The Comanche Pool.

The Comanche Pool was founded by a group of landowners located in the mixed-grass and sand-sage prairies encompassing approximately 5.4 million acres in south-central Kansas and North-central Oklahoma. This area includes two Fish and Wildlife Service Regions, two Natural Resources Conservation Service Regions, two State Wildlife Agencies and numerous local Conservation Districts.

The Comanche Pool is dedicated to providing for the regeneration and protection of natural resources, the education of ranchers, local citizens and youth on the proper management of the rangeland ecosystem and enhancement of the socioeconomic well-being of the rural community.

The partnership between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Comanche Pool began in 1998 when the Service’s Oklahoma Field Office and the Western Governors’ Association, along with the High Plains Resources, Conservation, and Development; the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife; and the Natural Resources Conservation Service hosted Rancher Conversation Meetings in western Oklahoma. These meetings generated landowner input and interest in a new direction the Service was taking toward candidate species conservation. This led to the development of the High Plains Partnership, an effort geared toward the conservation of species at risk in portions of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas. Several Comanche Pool board members were in attendance at the initial meeting and expressed an interest in being involved in this new program.

Map of the Comanche Pool. Credit: USFWS.

Map of the Comanche Pool. Credit: USFWS.

In Kansas, it was decided that the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program would be the best mechanism for completing habitat projects. Contact was made with the Comanche Pool in early February of 2000, and a partnership was developed.

Projects are geared toward habitat restoration and protection for the lesser prairie chicken, black-tailed prairie dog, ferruginous hawk, burrowing owl, plains minnow, red spotted toad, and Arkansas darter. However, the overall emphasis of the partnership is on good rangeland management. Some of the habitat improvement practices include grazing management plans, fencing, water development, control of woody invasives, and native plant restoration.

The Comanche Pool has also received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the FMC Corporation for additional habitat restoration projects and has worked diligently to secure a Range Specialist position, jointly-funded by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Comanche Pool. This position will act as a point of contact for the Service and provide technical assistance to landowners looking to improve their rangeland habitat in both Kansas and Oklahoma. So far, this position has been responsible for completing grassland inventories and grazing plans on over 46,000 acres in four Oklahoma Counties and six Kansas Counties.

The partnership developed with the Comanche Pool and others like it are what has made the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program a successful endeavor throughout the United States. Working with local, landowner-driven organizations is critical to the to the success of a habitat restoration program on private lands, especially in a state like Kansas which is 98% privately owned.

For more information about the partnership contact the Comanche Pool Prairie Resource Foundation at (620)582-2211 ext. 3 or the Kansas Partners for Fish & Wildlife Program at (620)486-2393.

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Contact Us »

State Coordinator

Mike Disney
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2609 Anderson Ave.
Manhattan, KS 66502
(785) 539-3474 ext. 107

Private Lands Biologists

Aron Flanders
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Quiviria National Wildlife Refuge
1434 NE 80th Street
Stafford, KS 67578
(620) 486-2393

Tony Ifland
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge
702 E. Xavier Road
Kirwin, KS 67644
(785) 543-3133

Greg Kramos
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2609 Anderson Ave.
Manhattan, KS 66502
(785) 539-3474 ext. 111

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: October 05, 2020
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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