Jamestown Wetland Renovation Project Dedication

Local sportsman, area residents and political leaders joined the leaders of several conservation organizations in celebrating the dedication of the Jamestown Wetland Renovation Project on Saturday, September 19, 2009 at the Gun Club Marsh dam site.

The dedication marks the end of phase one in a multi-phase renovation project, said Rob Unruh, Wildlife Manager for Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks. These historic wetlands were deteriorating due to sediment deposited in the wetland from the 138 square miles of the Marsh Creek Watershed which lies mostly in Jewell County, but also in Republic and Cloud counties.

The marsh itself is just north of the city of Jamestown. The wildlife area is a 4,729 acre public hunting area and is situated in the Central Flyway, making it an important migration stop-over for waterfowl, shore birds and other water birds, including the endangered whooping crane, which is a frequent visitor in both spring and fall.

This project is the result of a partnership between 15 different groups and organizations. continued Unruh, Together they supported the 3.2 million dollar renovation. Without this renovation, the marsh would have filled with sediment and cattails, and ceased to exist someday.

Unruh explained that current farming and conservation methods on the watershed have drastically reduced the amount of sediment that now comes into the marsh. However, with the renovation, Wildlife Area managers are able now to better control excessive stands of cattails, provide better habitat for wildlife and it improved the area with better access for hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The key element in the renovation was better water management, said Unruh. No sediment was removed due to the prohibitive cost and environmental concern.

The renovation project began in 2001 with public meetings followed by a feasibility study in 2003; drainage of channels in 2004; construction of a new 300 acre marsh, named Marsh Creek Marsh, in 2005; raising the height of the Gun Club Marsh dam in 2006; and they completed construction of a sub-dividing berm and bypass canal in Gun Club Marsh in 2007. Jamestown Marsh was flooded 8 times in 2008 causing damage to the construction and repairs were completed early this year.

The division of Gun Club Marsh into 2 units, accomplished by constructing an earthen levy, allows for different management activities in each marsh unit. This arrangement also is a water conservation measure to be used in water-short years. All of the water can be channeled into one or the other units, allowing the marsh to be at optimum condition for wildlife and hunting.

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and Ducks Unlimited, Inc. enlisted the professional services of Schwab-Eaton Engineers to design and manage construction of the project. Chris Cox, a Concordia native, was the principle engineer.

Speakers at the dedication highlighted the value of the renovation and the importance of the 15-organization partnership that made it all possible.

Partners of the Jamestown Wetland Renovation Project are: Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; North American Wetland Conservation Council (NAWCA); Ducks Unlimited, Inc.; The Nature Conservancy; Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams; Pheasants Forever; Westar Energy; Kansas Wildlife Federation; CloudCorp; Cloud County Board of Commissioners; City of Jamestown; Cloud County Convention and Tourism; Jewell County Board of Commissioners; Republic County Board of Commissioners; and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

In order to secure the NAWCA grant we had to show support from this partnership; NAWCA contributed $1million while the 2.2 million dollar balance was a combined effort from the other groups, said Unruh.

The day of the dedication began at 9:30 when Greenwing Legacy members (youth members) of Ducks Unlimited, Inc banded geese with leg bands and neck collars, then released them onto the marsh. After a short break, a drawing was held in which Lori Slate, Jewell, won a copy of a limited edition print entitled Jamestown Revisited by Harold Roe, wildlife artist.

Master of Ceremonies for the dedication was Scott Manley, Ducks Unlimited, Inc, Jackson, MS. The invocation was given by Johnny Belz, TX and the youth led in the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance. Speakers included Keith Sexson, Assistant Secretary of Operation, Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks; Jane Irvine, Greenwing Legacy Advocate, Leavenworth; Tom Warner, former Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commissioner; Bill Watson, The Nature Conservancy, Wichita; Dennis Haag, Kansas Alliance of Wetlands and Stream, Salina; Jordan Martincich, Pheasants Forever, Ottawa; Kirk Lowell, CloudCorp, Concordia; Barth Couch, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Salina; Representative Elaine Bowers, Concordia; and concluded by Judy Hill, Mayor, Jamestown.

The unveiling of the Carin Monument was accomplished by Judy Hill and Rep. Elaine Bowers. A luncheon, sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Inc. was held at the Jamestown Community Center following the dedication.

The area is managed by Rob Unruh, Webber, and Assistant Manager, Matt Farmer, Concordia; supervised by Public Lands Supervisor, Bruce Taggart, Hays. Law enforcement duties are shared by the Wildlife Area Managers, Lieutenant Lynn Thompson, Scandia, and Natural Resource Officers Todd Robinson, Concordia and Michael Peterson, Mankato.