Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas
|2002 – 2005||2005 – 2007|
|2008 – 2011||2012 & 2013|
|2014 – 2017||2018 – 2020|
The site is an important point for rest and nourishment for hundreds of thousands of birds in their seasonal migrations between Arctic summer breeding grounds and southern winter ranges along the Gulf Coast, Caribbean and South America. Cheyenne Bottoms is considered by many to be the single most important wetland for migrating shorebirds in North America, and it is designated as a Ramsar wetland of international importance.
|Multitemporal satellite image based on 2006 (drought), 2007 (flood) and 2009 (normal). Bright colors represent significant changes in land cover from year to year; dull-gray colors indicate little change in land cover. The broad maroon-purple zone shows the extent of high water in 2007; black and dark blue show perennial water bodies. CBWA - Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area; TCN - The Nature Conservancy. Adapted from Aber, Pavri and Aber (2012, fig. 16-20).|
The following kite aerial photographs were taken in mid-May 2005. At this time, the marshes contained substantial water, and wetland vegetation was greening up nicely. The images are arranged to provide full 360° panorama of the Nature Conservancy marsh complex at Cheyenne Bottoms.
|Great bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani), also known as softstem bulrush and grey club rush. Bulrushes are among the most beneficial emergent wetland plants (Whitley et al. 1999). They may form dense thickets along the margins of water bodies. The seeds are particularly valuable for ducks; bulrush provides nesting habitat, and it binds wet soils quite effectively.|
|Blunt spike rush (Eleocharis obtusa). Spike rushes are quite common in and diagnostic of wetland environments in temperate regions around the world. They provide shelter for fish, amphibians and insects, and are a food resource for many wetland birds and mammals.|
|Common cattail (Typha latifolia) and narrow-leafed cattail (Typha angustifolia) have hybridized in the Cheyenne Bottoms vicinity (Zimmerman 1990). Among the most common wetland plants worldwide, cattails are invasive in the Great Plains and are able to displace more desirable wetland plants.|
Left: healthy cattail beds prior to drought, May 2002.
|Above: panoramic view assembled from four wide-angle photographs, July 2004. A - former mudflat, now vegetated with blunt spike rush, B - former cattail beds, largely dead following drought, C - delta of Deception Creek. |
Below: panoramic image assembled from two wide-angle photographs taken in May 2005. A mosaic of emergent wetland vegetation is evident; darkest green patches in marsh are bulrush.
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|Dry mudflats with cattle tracks (left foreground) and residual water pools (right side) are typical in late summer. Cattle graze on wet meadow in left background. Image date Aug. 2005.|
|View toward northeast over Nature Conservancy marshes. The dry channel of Deception Creek and its delta are visible in upper left portion of scene. Vegetation has spread over dry mudflats in lower left corner. Image date May 2006.|
|View toward northwest with Hoisington in the far background. All mudflats are dry and vegetation displays limited growth in this scene. Image date May 2006; compare with May 2005 pictures above.|
In October 2006, the Nature Conservancy began a systematic effort to control marsh vegetation in mudflats and thickets. Mechanical means were employed; herbicides were considered unsuitable to use for sensitive wetland habitat at that time. Dry mudflats were plowed (disked) in order to remove opportunistic weeds, such as bull thistle and cocklebur. Thickets were mowed to cut down the standing thatch of cattail, bulrush, and other emergent wetland plants. The idea was to simulate heavy buffalo grazing on the dry marsh environment.
|View toward northwest with Hoisington in the far background. The marsh is completely dry and substantial portions have been plowed or mowed. Image date Oct. 2006.|
|View northward over dry marsh. Bare soil has been plowed and vegetated portions are partly mowed (note tractor). Reddish-brown vegetation is unmowed thickets of cattail and bulrush. Image date Oct. 2006.|
|Closeup view of tractor mowing down vegetation thicket in raised portions of the marsh. Image date Oct. 2006.|
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