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Marais des Cygnes
National Wildlife Refuge

Deciduous trees and shrubs line the banks of the Marais des Cygnes River.  This riparian habitat is important for a variety of wildlife species.
24141 Kansas Hwy 52
Pleasanton, KS   66075
E-mail: maraisdescygnes@fws.gov
Phone Number: 913-352-8956
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The Refuge is named after the Marais des Cygnes River. The phrase means marsh of swans. It is presumed that trumpeter swans were found in adjacent wetlands.
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Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge

Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is located 39 miles south of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The 7,500-acre Refuge was established in 1992 to protect one of the most northwestern areas of bottomland hardwood forest in the United States as well as the largest contiguous tract of bottomland hardwood forest in Kansas.

The Refuge is named after the Marais des Cygnes River which runs through the middle of the Refuge and is the dominant natural feature of the region. The term "marais des cygnes" comes from the French language and means "marsh of the swans." It is presumed that trumpeter swans, which were historically common in the Midwest, used the wetlands adjacent to the Marais des Cygnes River during spring and fall migration.

The Refuge offers visitors the chance to view bottomland hardwood forest and tallgrass prairie. Both of these plant communities are rare in North America today. Bottomland hardwood forest has been reduced by 80 percent nationally since Euro-American settlement, and tallgrass prairie has been reduced by 99 percent.

Getting There . . .
Marais des Cygnes NWR is located 39 miles south of the Kansas City metropolitan area along U.S. Highway 69. At the intersection of U.S. Highway 69 and Kansas Highway 52, travel east 1 1/4 mile. The Refuge office is located on the south side of Kansas Highway 52.

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Wildlife and Habitat

High quality stands of bottomland hardwood forest, upland oak-hickory forest, tallgrass prairie, seasonal and permanent wetlands, and riverine areas are found throughout the Refuge.

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Evidence of old homesteads can be found throughout the Refuge; the inhabitants of these homesteads helped shape the culture of the area. Nearly every 40-acre tract on the Refuge had a small farm on it.

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Management Activities
Restoration and protection of unique plant and animal communities dominate management activities. Some of the specific communities receiving attention are bottomland hardwood forest, dry glade prairies, wet prairies, post/black-jack oak savannah, small temporary wetlands, and large floodplain marshes.

Restoration activities include planting trees within bottomland hardwood habitat, removal of trees from prairie habitat, planting native prairie plants in old crop fields, thinning trees in savannah habitat, and plugging ditches and constructing berms to restore wetland habitat. Prescribed fire and spraying of noxious weeds are also important activities for maintaining many sites.

Efforts are also being undertaken to ensure minimum river flows and protect the flooding pattern of the Marais des Cygnes River. This is necessary to protect a large and diverse mussel population and maintain the water levels necessary for bottomland hardwood and wet prairie communities.

Because the Refuge was only established in 1992, construction of public use facilities is still underway. Species inventories are still incomplete, and research continues to increase our knowledge about the wildlife and plants found on the Refuge.