Roger Boyd wants to keep the Baker Wetlands wet.
And efforts to counter the effects that flood control measures have had on the wetlands recently got a helping hand.
Roger Boyd, director of natural areas at Baker University, said the school received a $12,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through a special fund established for wetland restoration.
The money will finance several projects geared toward rehydrating the wetlands south of Lawrence and re-establishing native wetland prairie vegetation.
The work includes surveying the entire 573 acres to develop a comprehensive management plan, excavating and plugging a mile-long drainage culvert installed in the 1920s or '30s, replacing nine other culverts with water control structures, removing 40 acres of cottonwood trees to encourage further growth of prairie grasses, purchasing prairie grass seed for 80 acres of previously cultivated fields, and mowing 100 acres of brush.
THE MOWING and survey work were completed earlier this fall, and Boyd expects to have the culverts plugged within the next couple weeks. Stanley Ziegler, of Emporia Soil Conservation, was hired to plug the culverts and install the water control structures. The rest of the projects probably will be put on hold until January, when Boyd expects to receive additional grant money.
By controlling the flow of water out of the wetlands, Boyd hopes to restore the area to true wetlands conditions.
"We think that by doing all these different projects, we're going to rehydrate the place and make it a very wet wetlands," he said. "The goal is to increase the amount of surface water for a longer period of time, but we don't want to flood the whole area year-round. The majority of the area was usually only wet from early spring through early summer."
SINCE Clinton Dam was constructed, the wetlands doesn't receive nearly the amount of water than once flowed into the area, Boyd said, adding that a flood control channel along Louisiana Street also lowers the water table.
The water control structures are constructed on a berm that acts as a dam to retain water on the wetlands up to a specific elevation. Once the water reaches that level, it will flow into a culvert and drain off into the Wakarusa River.
"We're trying to re-create what was a natural situation out here," Boyd said.
ANOTHER project geared toward rehydration recently was completed. "Three industries along 31st Street were filling in some of the wetlands," said Boyd. "They had to get a permit, and to do so, they had to do something to compensate."
The permits, issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, financed the elevatation of a 2,300-foot stretch of levy by three feet in the northwest section of the wetlands.
During the spring rainy season, the levy will prevent water run-off, Boyd said. He hopes the project will result in about a foot of water on the quarter section from early April through mid-June.