Rain giving new life to wildlife refuge

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GREAT BEND, Kansas – After being dry for more than a year, the recent rain in Barton County has helped to jump-start the ecosystem at Cheyenne Bottoms.

“Sure, a lot of it would be what happens over the next month or so, with the recent rains we got here, we’ve been able to get some sheet water on things. It has been able to also really help us on the soil saturation so it’s a real good kick-start to the migration period,” said Tom Bidrowski, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

One of the most notable changes is that the wetlands are silent no longer.

“For the last two years, we haven’t really heard any frogs or toads. The day after the first big rain it was almost deafening out here,” said Jean Aycock, Kansas Wildlife Education Center Director.

With the return of much needed water, comes the wildlife and close behind, visitors to come see them.

“I like to see the deer and the birds,” said Jayce Bauer, Great Bend resident.

“We’ve seen more visitors coming in the door even because they’re excited wondering if birds had been returning. Probably the biggest thing is that the rains came, and the birds came,” said Linda Penner, Kansas Wetlands Education Center.

Right now, officials are hoping for several good rains before winter sets in to keep the wetlands in good condition as a habitat for wildlife.

With more rain in the forecast, more water in Cheyenne Bottoms will mean more migratory birds in the fall.

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