The Kansas City Star reports that Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas, along with Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, are experiencing some of the worst drought conditions in 20 years, leaving much of the marsh dried up.
Each has thousands of acres of shallow water intermixed with lush marsh plants, making them the favored resting places for millions of migrating birds every fall.
But the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge are currently about as far from prime as possible. Cheyenne Bottoms is all but dry, with cracks crisscrossing broad expanses of exposed dirt, looking like miles of spiderwebs. Only about a combined acre’s worth of stagnant puddles remain.
At Quivira, white salt storms form as the wind scours open expanses of bone-dry alkali marsh beds.
The area’s legendary Big Salt Marsh is about 80 percent dry. The Little Salt Marsh retains about 30 percent of its water, but it’s not very deep.
The Star reports that this doesn’t bode well for the hunters and wildlife watchers that would normally flock to the area, but the birds will likely adapt.
“Shorebirds, ducks and geese, they’re long-range fliers,” said Max Thompson, an ornithologist and birding author from Winfield. “If ...