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Cheyenne Bottoms in central Kansas is the largest inland wetland in the United States. A 41,000-acre natural basin, the wetland is a key stopover for a multitude of migrating birds to eat and rest. The Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area covers nearly half of the basin.

The wetland’s water level changes with precipitation and surface flows. For example, 2007 was a wet year, and 2013 was a dry year until heavy rain in late summer partially replenished the marshland.

The lines in the basin are roads on top of dikes, built in the 1950s to impound water in five pools and manage water levels. Further subdivision of the wetland pools took place in the 1990s. Water levels in individual pools are periodically flooded or drained to control invasive vegetation (such as hybrid cattails) and promote desirable aquatic vegetation. Additionally, small grains such as Japanese millet are sometimes seeded to provide supplemental food resources, then flooded to make the food available to foraging waterfowl.

The crops surrounding Cheyenne Bottoms include alfalfa, sorghum, wheat, corn, and soybeans, along with pasture.

Two intermittent streams, Blood and Deception creeks, flow into the Bottoms from the northwest. Canals were built to divert water from the Arkansas River and Wet Walnut Creek to provide a source of supplemental water to the wetland. However, drought kept the Bottoms dry in 2022.

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, includes Cheyenne Bottoms as a Wetlands of International Importance.

Imagery

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July 18, 1986, Landsat 5 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
Aug. 19, 1992, Landsat 5 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
July 19, 1998, Landsat 5 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
July 22, 2005, Landsat 5 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
Aug. 13, 2007, Landsat 5 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
July 1, 2009, Landsat 5 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
July 17, 2012, Landsat 7 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
July 12, 2013, Landsat 8 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
Aug. 29, 2013, Landsat 8 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
July 20, 2016, Landsat 8 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
Aug. 11, 2018, Landsat 8 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
July 29, 2019, Landsat 8 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
June 13, 2020, Landsat 8 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
June 16, 2021, Landsat 8 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
July 13, 2022, Landsat 9 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA
July 13, 2022, Landsat 9 (path/row 29/33) — Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, USA

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References

Aber, J.S., Penner II, R.L., and Aber, S.E.W., 2021, Using Remote Sensing to Monitor Cattail Invasion, Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve, Kansas: Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://doi.org/10.1660/062.124.0103.

Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, 2022, Cheyenne Bottoms Waterfowl Report: Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://ksoutdoors.com/KDWP-Info/Locations/Wildlife-Areas/Southwest/Cheyenne-Bottoms/Cheyenne-Bottoms-Waterfowl-Report.

Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, [n.d.], Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area: Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://ksoutdoors.com/KDWP-Info/Locations/Wildlife-Areas/Southwest/Cheyenne-Bottoms.

Kansas Natural Resource Council, 2015, The Waters of Kansas—Cheyenne Bottoms: accessed December 23, 2022, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIs5jKIzcjs.

Kansas Wetlands Education Center, [n.d.], Kansas Wetlands Education Center: Fort Hays State University, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu/.

The Nature Conservancy, 2022, Places We Protect—Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas: The Nature Conservancy, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/places-we-protect/cheyenne-bottoms-preserve/.

Owen, T., 2012, Cheyenne Bottoms in Drought: NASA Earth Observatory, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/79337/cheyenne-bottoms-in-drought.

Simeral, D., 2022, U.S. Drought Monitor—November 29, 2022: National Drought Mitigation Center, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/png/20221129/20221129_usdm.png.

Sittel, M., 2022, Drought progression in Kansas during the 2022 growing season: Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://eupdate.agronomy.ksu.edu/article_new/drought-progression-in-kansas-during-the-2022-growing-season-515-5.

Thacker, S., 2022, Where are the birds? Cheyenne Bottoms is dry, but the news isn’t all bad: Great Bend Tribune, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://www.gbtribune.com/news/local-news/where-are-birds/.

Thomson, J., 2022, A Million Migrating Birds Expecting Kansas Wetlands Will Find Dust: Newsweek, accessed December 23, 2022, at https://www.newsweek.com/migrating-birds-affected-drying-wetlands-kansas-drought-1761001.

USDA, 2021, CropScape—Cropland Data Layer: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, accessed January 25, 2023, at https://nassgeodata.gmu.edu/CropScape/.

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