September 22, 2016

Flint Hills Stream the Subject of Holistic Watershed Management Plan
Funding from Kingsbury Family Foundation Supports Conservation Research

Manhattan, Kansas - A project to develop and implement a holistic watershed management plan for a heritage stream in the Flint Hills recently received additional funding support from the Kingsbury Foundation in Kansas. The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS) has been working through partnerships for a decade to build technology that can find and show the largest issues affecting our streams, rivers, wetlands and water bodies.

The project has been ongoing, but the new funding will assist with further research and validation of the existing tools, which include GIS, online mapping and flood analysis. This phase of the project will be completed by the end of 2018. Scientists at KAWS will be looking at stream bank erosion, barriers to fish migration, watershed health and floodplain connectivity in the Cottonwood River Basin, but the resulting tools can eventually be used across the entire state.

“During rain events and flooding, the water runs off the land and into our water supply - taking with it small pieces of the way we use our lands,” said Jeff Neel, Director of Applied Research and Restoration at KAWS. “By addressing the cause of the problems - land management that causes more runoff as opposed to increased infiltration and retention - rather than the result, we can more effectively address potential issues before they start, increase baseflow during droughts and minimize ongoing problems before they get worse.”

KAWS will be using these tools to present easy-to-understand results and planning options to communities and landowners to help preserve habitat and support biodiversity across the state. Assessments of streams, wetlands and adjacent (riparian) areas will also be used as a part of this project.

The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to achieve a healthy balance of economics, conservation and community to support sustainability of the natural ecosystems and working lands of Kansas.

The Kingsbury Family Foundation funds conservation research and related efforts in Kansas. By limiting the scope of philanthropic giving, the Kingsbury Family Foundation has made a significant impact on conservation in the state. Since its inception in 2001, the Foundation has funded research and conservation efforts related to water quality, habitat quality, biodiversity, and species preservation throughout the state.

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August 18, 2016

Conservation Grant to Fund Wetland Restoration at Great Plains Nature Center

Wichita, Kansas - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recently announced that community-led wetland, stream and coastal restoration projects across the nation have been awarded approximately $2.2 million in grants. The grantees have committed an additional $5.2 million in local project support, creating a total conservation investment of more than $7.4 million in projects that will restore wildlife habitat and urban waters. These projects will engage thousands of volunteers, students and local residents in community-based conservation projects.

The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS) was awarded one of the 58 “Five-Star and Urban Restoration” grants for 2016. These funds will be used to renovate an existing 2.6-acre wetland located at the Great Plains Nature Center (GPNC) in Wichita, Kansas with the help of 50 volunteers. The wetland will be restored through dredging and installation of a water control structure to provide enhanced management ability. This project will result in habitat improvement, improved management of the wetland, and removal of invasive species from surrounding buffers and uplands. Other partners on this project include: the City of Wichita, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Westar Energy, the Regional Economic Area Partnership, Wichita Clean Streams, Ducks Unlimited, the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Division of Conservation, Cargill Incorporated and the Whooping Crane Mitigation Fund.

“The Five Star and Urban Restoration Program is a funding opportunity for successful, community-focused conservation efforts,” said Jessica Mounts, executive director of KAWS. “Not only will this project produce tangible conservation rewards in an urban area, we will also see the additional benefits of engaging and empowering citizens to participate in the protection of fish and wildlife habitat and clean water in our community.”

“This wetland area at the GPNC is an integral part of the habitat for the deer, turkey, waterfowl, fish and shorebirds that call the area home,” remarked Jim Mason, Director of the GPNC. “Wetlands provide access to water for urban wildlife, and act as filters to help clean up watersheds. Beyond these benefits, the wetland is located just outside our ‘Bob Gress Wildlife Observatory,’ providing a prime spot where visitors to the GPNC can enjoy observing the animals that live here.”

“Ducks Unlimited is excited to join the 5-Star Urban Grant Partners on this very popular wetland renovation project at the GPNC. We hope the 20 thousand annual visitors at the GPNC will enjoy their newly renovated wetland,” said Joe Kramer, DU biologist for Kansas. “This project will give people who may not otherwise have opportunities to visit wetlands, a chance to experience how wetlands support people and wildlife.”

The Five Star and Urban Waters 2016 winners were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 220 applications. The partnership bases consideration for funding upon educational and training opportunities for youth and the community at large as well as ecological, cultural and economic benefits. These projects also involve a high degree of partnership between local government agencies, elected officials, community groups, businesses, schools and conservation organizations for improving local water quality and restoring important fish and wildlife habitats.

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The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to achieve a healthy balance of economics, conservation and community to support sustainability of the natural ecosystems and working lands of Kansas.

The Great Plains Nature Center is a cooperative project between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, and the City of Wichita Department of Park and Recreation. The Nature Center features the Koch Habitat Hall, Owl’s Nest gift shop, Coleman Auditorium, and 2 miles of Chisholm Creek Park nature trails. The Friends of the Great Plains Nature Center is a support organization formed to increase awareness and help sustain the Center's environmental education programs, organize and promote special events, recruit volunteers to assist staff, and raise funds for long-term viability.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13.6 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit

August 1, 2016

Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams Announces New Executive Director

Cheney, Kansas - The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, a non profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the natural heritage and resources of Kansas, is pleased to announce that Jessica Mounts of Cheney, KS has been named as its new Executive Director. Mounts will fill the vacancy left by Jeff Neel, who will continue his work with KAWS as Program Director of Applied Research, Restoration and Monitoring.

Mounts’ resume includes twelve years of experience in fisheries, water conservation and natural resources, as well as successful leadership building teams and programs. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Newman University, earned a mini-Master’s of Public Administration at Wichita State University, and is a graduate of the KU Emerging Leaders Academy.

“We are very pleased to announce this appointment,” says Brad Loveless, Board Chairman for KAWS. “Jessica’s experience involving the coordination of multiple partners, landowners, funding sources and volunteers to build and maintain successful projects will bring continued success to the mission of KAWS. I am confident that her energy, enthusiasm and skills will be an asset to KAWS as we move forward from our recent reorganization and continue to develop additional program areas.”

Most recently, Mounts was a key partner in working with the National Park Service to designate the Arkansas River as a National Water Trail, and campaigned for funding to build the first fish passage structure in Kansas on the Arkansas River in Wichita. Her diverse experience includes multiple conservation projects, public service and volunteering, serving on the Friends of the Great Plains Nature Center Board of Directors, and multiple publications, including “A Pocket Guide to the Stream Fishes of Kansas”.

“I look forward to continuing to serve the people and natural resources of Kansas as well as building community partnerships for conservation in this new capacity,” remarks Mounts. “I am dedicated to preserving our water resources, as our well-being and quality of life depends on healthy streams and wetlands. KAWS plays a key role in working to conserve this resource in innovative and collaborative ways for Kansas.”

The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to achieve a healthy balance of economics, conservation and community to support sustainability of the natural ecosystems and working lands of Kansas.