Whooping crane in flight
Whooping crane Cheyenne Bottoms provides critical mid-continent habitat for endangered whooping cranes. © Kendal Larson

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Nature Conservancy acquires additional acreage at Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve

Acquisition prepares the way for wetland restoration

The Nature Conservancy has protected an additional 152 acres of land at Cheyenne Bottoms in Barton County. Globally known as one of the most important stopover sites for migrating birds, much of Cheyenne Bottoms is jointly preserved by The Nature Conservancy and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.

The newly acquired tract of land is adjacent to the 7,694 acres already owned by the Conservancy connects to the nearly 20,000-acres state wildlife area. The Conservancy plans to restore the wetland features of the property, which has been managed as cropland under previous ownership.

"Cheyenne Bottoms is one of only three extensive natural marsh complexes in Kansas," says avian programs manager Robert L. Penner. "Wetland loss in the United States is estimated to be over 50%, and estimates of wetland loss in Kansas are similarly dramatic. Restoring the wetland basins on this property will provide valuable habitat for both grassland birds and shorebirds - some of which are species of greatest conservation concern, like the endangered whooping crane."

Of the 478 species of birds that have been documented in Kansas, 346 have been observed using Cheyenne Bottoms. These birds migrate north as far as western Alaska and the tundra at the edge of the arctic and south to Louisiana, Texas, Central America and the far reaches of South America. Providing abundant food and a place to rest, Cheyenne Bottoms is an essential link in this migration.

The Nature Conservancy will retain the new property as an addition to the Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve, where the non-profit organization manages the land to ensure a diversity of wetland types - large, small, shallow, deep, salty, fresh, weedy and open water - to attract a diversity of bird species. It was one of the Conservancy's earliest land projects in Kansas.

"A single wetland type cannon provide all the resources required by many plant and animal species," says Penner. "Placing this new tract of land under permanent conservation ownership helps us provide the diversity needed to meet complex conservation needs."

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.