WICHITA — The drought that has hit Kansas has taken a toll on a south-central arboretum, but officials there are using the low water levels on its creek to improve the waterway.
Robin Macy, owner and steward of the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, told The Wichita Eagle crews have been dredging Euphrates Creek, which often floods the arboretum when it rains. Dredging the creek is intended to alleviate flooding, help the ecosystem and minimize blue-green algae, she said.
The creek has only been dredged twice in the last century, the last time in the 1950s.
The drought is “really the best time to clear out ponds, clear out creeks,” Macy said. “It’s kind of ugly, but part of the life cycle.”
She said the dredging is also possible thanks to a 2008 grant for $25,000 from Markham Winery in California that was intended for the dredging project on Euphrates Creek. The project, however, has been delayed because there was so much rain in 2009 and 2010.
“You just have to wait for Mother Nature,” Macy said. A local construction company also offered to help with the work, which is expected to be finished Friday.
“Their generosity is turning $25,000 into a lot more,” Macy said.
The dirt from the creek will be put it in a meadow behind the arboretum where Macy intends to plant a tallgrass prairie.
Macy is also getting ready for a possible repeat drought next year and is considering digging new wells.
“It will rain again,” Macy said. “And we’re gonna have a deeper creek and maybe a cistern and maybe a way to harness Mother Nature.”