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New Happenings Around Quivira

Here are the most recent notes and photographs from around Quivira.


Quivira has at least twelve woodlots and shelter belts that are scheduled to remain under the new Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP).  Under the Plan, there will be no specific management of these areas, other than allowing them to remain in their current states.  These woodlots, as are most Refuge areas, are open to public access, and often offer varied birding and nature observation opportunities.  Although there is no plan to develop the areas, the Refuge will work to improve access, parking, interpretive information, and publicity on each.  Stay tuned to this site for information as it develops.

 Santana Grove staff 448

The Santana Grove, located northwest of Little Salt Marsh

Water levels

The drought at Quivira continues, compounded by 33 days of 100-degrees or more during the summer.  By late July 2012, both Big and Little Salt Marshes had dried up completely.  By mid-August, the only water of any consequence was a small pond called Park Smith Lake, across from the Environmental Education Classroom.  August 2012 proved to be unusually cool and wet.  Incredibly, an average of 5 inches of rain fell throughout the Refuge area during August 24-26, 2012.  This returned water to most of the Refuge, including both  Big and Little Salt Marsh.  Water had also returned to the "flats" north and east of Big Salt Marsh, areas that had been dry since late spring.  Almost all water management units had at least some water.  However, by mid-September, water levels had again dropped, with only about 25% of Little Salt Marsh and 50% of Big Salt Marsh, respectively, covered with water.  Most of the smaller water management units were either dry or nearly dry.  By late October, both Little and Big Salt Marsh, and Park Smith Lake (across from the Environmental Education Classroom) were almost completely dry again.


Hope began to return, in the form of in-flowing water, by early November.  Rattlesnake Creek began flowing into the Refuge, slowly supplying water to Little Salt Marsh.  Big Salt Marsh (BSM) began receiving significant amounts of water through spring-water flow from the west, and water began to pool both in Big Salt Marsh proper, as well as in the flats north of Big Salt Marsh.  By February 2013, both Little and Big Salt Marshes had over 80% coverage.  By early February, BSM and the flats north of NE 170th Street were full.  By mid-March, staff was able to finally allow release of water from Little Salt Marsh into areas to the east and north.  By mid-April, Units 7, 14A, 28, 29, and 30 all were supplied with ample water from LSM.


The main water-management concern over the next few months is that, if the drought persists, most of the Refuge will dry up even earlier than last year.

  Snow Geese BSM 7 Feb 13 staff 448 

A large flock of Snow Geese in the now-full Big Salt Marsh, 7 Feb 2013 (being supplied by Rattlesnake Creek) 

 Geese 15 Mar 13 staff 448 

A pair of Canada Geese enjoys the newly-flooded Unit 7, east of Little Salt Marsh, 15 March 2013. 

Rattlesnake Creek 

 Rattlesnake Creek is the main supply of water to Little Salt Marsh, and hence many of the Refuge's water units (through a system of water control structures).  The Creek enters Little Salt Marsh on its west side.  Flow rates during good rain periods can approach several hundred cfs (cubic feet per second).  Although flow normally slows somewhat in summer due pressure on the aquifer from irrigation and trees, the lack of large rain events can also negatively affect the flow of the creek.  By late summer 2011, the Creek stopped flowing completely where it enters Quivira, and began flowing again in late October.  During summer 2012, the creek dried up completely by early July.  However, after a 3-day rain event in late August the creek began flowing again into Little Salt Marsh.  Since then (as of mid-September) the creek's flow has been very low and sporadic, sometimes drying for a few days, then flowing again.
Within Quivira, the Rattlesnake Creek drainage flows into Salt Creek.  As of mid-September, Salt Creek had a low, but regular, flow as it exited Quivira in Rice County.  The flow then stopped, then resumed in late October.  As mentioned above, water began slowly returning to Little Salt Marsh via this flow.  Schools of small stream fish were also observed, indicating some populations survived in pools upstream prior to the return flow.  By early February, the main pool of LSM was mostly full.  Flow of the creek, barring high amounts of rainfall, is expected to slow and then cease during the summer. 



RC flowing 2 Nov 2012 staff 448 

Rattlesnake Creek flowing again into the west side of Quivira, 2 November 2012 


Upland Areas

Drought persists, but a few well-placed rains and snowfall during late winter and spring have allowed some green-up of prairies and salt marshes.  Some areas are still trying to recover from two years of limited growth, when many of the upland areas exhibited only stunted growth and low seed production from forbs and grasses.  During 2012, rains were too few and too late to help most uplands, although a late green-up occurred in many areas in early September, spurring growth warm-season grasses and many species of late-summer wildflowers .

 Salt Flats staff 448 

Salt Flats on the south side of Little Salt Marsh 

Tornado Damage

Downed and damaged trees are still visible in the north half of Quivira from an F3 tornado that tracked through the area on the night of 14 April 2012.  The most visible damage is along the NE 140th Street blacktop near the Scenic Overlook, and along the east side of the Wildlife Drive.  For the full story, click on the link below:

Tornado Damages portions of Quivira

Firewood cutting permits: 

Firewood Cutting Permits Available Beginning August 1, 2011
Notice: Quivira is allowing the cutting and removal of firewood at the Refuge by special permit. Call 620-486-2393 for more information.

New wayside exhibits: 

New wayside interpretive signs have recently been installed around the Refuge. Eight signs will now help the visitor learn about subjects suchs as whooping cranes, prairie, shorebirds, salt marshes, and woody plant invasion.
Wayside exhibit 2 



What is going on out there? See the Phenology page for first of season birds, blooming, etc.



Last Updated: Apr 17, 2013
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