The Nature Conservancy Receives Major Gift for Wetland Restoration Efforts in Kansas
The Charles Hulme Foundation of Great Bend donates $100,000
Topeka, KS | April 03, 2014
The Charles Hulme Foundation of Great Bend has given $100,000 to The Nature Conservancy in Kansas, for the Our Kansas Prairie Legacy: The Next Steps capital campaign. The donation is a lead gift in the campaign and will be used to protect and improve wetland habitats across Kansas, including at Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve.
The Nature Conservancy in Kansas launched the fundraising campaign in late 2011 to expand conservation efforts across the state, with emphasis on the prairie ranges of the Flint Hills, Red Hills, and western Kansas as well as on the wetlands and streams of Kansas. The Conservancy’s work relies on strong partnerships with private landowners that produce lasting, large-scale conservation gains, as well as benefits to people and communities. The campaign has received gifts and pledges of nearly $4,000,000 toward the $5,000,000 goal.
"As we wind down the Charles Hulme Foundation, we hand off a legacy of conservation to a next generation. We are fortunate to see ahead the many young faces who renew a trust passed forward from their predecessors," said Elizabeth L. Turner, foundation trustee.
A large portion of the Charles Hulme Foundation gift will be used for the purchase of heavy equipment to undertake the removal of invasive trees and other wetland restoration at Cheyenne Bottoms. Cheyenne Bottoms, located in central Kansas near Great Bend, is one of the most important inland marshes in North America, attracting tens of thousands of shorebirds and nearly a quarter million waterfowl annually. The 41,000-acre Cheyenne Bottoms complex is one of only 34 U.S. sites designated a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The American Bird Conservancy and the National Audubon Society have both selected Cheyenne Bottoms as a Globally Important Bird Area, and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network named the Bottoms a Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve. The Nature Conservancy owns and manages the 7,694-acre Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve adjacent to the 19,857-acre state-owned Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area.
Charles Hulme, born in the 1890s, was a Great Bend businessman active in ‘citizen science,’ a concept that recruits public participation in scientific research. Hulme voluntarily served on the Kansas Fish, Game and Forestry Commission for over four decades. At the height of the Depression, Hulme advocated for the protection of Cheyenne Bottoms, eventually helping the state acquire the nearly 20,000 acres that is today managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The Nature Conservancy began purchasing land at Cheyenne Bottoms in the late 1980s in order to expand the conservation of this natural wonder.
“This gift is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his time and resources to improving the natural world of Kansas. I would urge everyone this spring to visit Cheyenne Bottoms, a place where birds outnumber people and you can quietly observe one of the best phenomena of nature,” commented Rob Manes, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Kansas.
Peak migratory season for shorebirds is late April to late May when nearly 600,000 shorebirds from 39 species pass through the Bottoms. Visitors to Cheyenne Bottoms can expect to see species like Wilson’s phalarope, long-billed dowitcher, white-rumped sandpiper, Baird’s sandpiper, and stilt sandpiper. Whooping cranes have also been seen at Cheyenne Bottoms during their fall and spring migrations. Peak time to view waterfowl like mallards and blue-winged teal starts in early March. Cheyenne Bottoms is located near Great Bend and is open all year round. Information about the Bottoms, driving directions, and the location of a public observation area are available at two information kiosks located at intersection of U.S Highways 56 and 281 and Highway 4 two miles east of Hoisington. Visitors are also encouraged to visit the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, a gateway to one of the world’s best wetlands.
The Nature Conservancy in Kansas was established in 1989. With more than 6,500 members, it has conserved nearly 100,000 acres in the state. Learn more at www.nature.org/kansas.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org. To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit www.nature.org/global. To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.