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CHEROKEE COUNTY — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Kansas Field Office and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) (collectively known as “Trustees”) have acquired 711 acres in Cherokee County. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will hold title to the property and be responsible for its operation and maintenance. This marks the first restoration acquisition in Kansas since the implementation of the Cherokee County Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment.
Cherokee County is part of the Tri-State Mining District in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, which was mined extensively for lead, cadmium, and zinc for more than a century. As a consequence of these mining and mine-related activities, large amounts of metals were released into the Cherokee County environment. Lead, cadmium, and zinc are potentially toxic to a wide variety of organisms, including birds, mammals, fish, mussels, and plants. The Trustees have been documenting these effects since the mid-1990s. The Restoration Plan outlines specific goals to compensate for mining-related damage to the environment.
The property was previously enrolled in the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). The WRP is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, enhance, and restore wetlands on their property. As part of the WRP agreement, NRCS will fund restoration of native grasslands and construct wetlands.
The 711-acre property has 1 mile of perennial stream with an intact riparian corridor. The Trustees will work together with KDWPT and NRCS to draft and implement a management plan for the property. The management plan will focus on benefits to wildlife such as shorebirds, waterfowl, and other migratory birds. It is anticipated that the property will provide a recreational benefit to the public for activities such as hunting, fishing, and bird watching.
For more information, phone the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Kansas Field Office in Manhattan, 785-539-3474. The completed management plan will be posted online atwww.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/NRDA/CherCO_KS/CherokeeCounty.htm.