Located in south central Kansas, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge lies in the transition zone of eastern and western prairies. In 1955, the Migratory Bird Commission approved the purchase of land to create the Refuge, and by 1998 the last of the Refuge's 22,135 acres had been purchased. The name "Quivira" is of Spanish origin, given to the region by the Spanish explorer, Coronado, who visited the area in 1541. Instead of gold, treasures and the fabled "Seven Cities of Cibola," Coronado instead found fertile grasslands, abundant wildlife, and small agricultural villages.
For untold years, the Big and Little Salt Marshes have attracted thousands of migratory waterfowl, providing them with food, cover and a place to rest. Native Americans and early settlers hunted the waterfowl in these marshes and shortly after the turn of the century, commercial hunting provided wagonloads of waterfowl to Kansas City restaurants and other eastern points.
In 1992, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge was designated as a Wetland Site of International Importance due to its location and role as a stopping point for migrating shore birds in the Central Flyway.
In May 1955, the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission approved the establishment of, and the processing of purchase agreements for, the “Great Salt Marsh National Wildlife Refuge” to recognize two unique, historic saltmarsh and salt flat areas, the Big Salt Marsh and the Little Salt Marsh. In 1958, the name of the refuge was changed to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge after the Spanish term for the area. Quivira National Wildlife Refuge has a mixed-grass sand prairie ecosystem that contains a diversity of grassland and wetland vegetation associations with a range of salinities, stream corridors, salt flats, sand dunes and hills, and agricultural lands.
On May 3, 1955, Quivira Refuge was established under these authorities and for these purposes:
- Migratory Bird Conservation Act (16 United States Code [U.S.C.] § 715d)
- for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds
- Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. § 742f(a)4)
- or the development, advancement, management, conservation, and protection of fish and wildlife resources
- Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. § 742f(b)1)
- for the benefit of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, in performing its activities and service
Other Facilities in this Complex
Quivira is one of three Refuges that are part of the Kansas Refuges Complex. The other two are Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge and Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge. The Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita which is run as a partnership with the City of Wichita and the State of Kansas is also part of the Complex.
Great Plains Nature Center
The Great Plains Nature Center is a cooperative project between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Kansas Wildlife & Parks, City of Wichita, and the Friends of the Great Plains Nature Center. These Partners share a common goal of providing opportunities for the public to investigate, understand and develop an appreciation for wildlife and the environment, while promoting sound stewardship of natural resources.