Beaver Creek Wetland
Definitions of a wetland vary, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency use this official definition:
“Wetlands are areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include bogs, marshes, and swamps”
Wetlands house much more than just weeds and water. They provide:
- Balance for nature’s ecosystems.
- Shelter and protection for aquatic animals.
- Recreation such as bird watching, fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, boating, photography, and nature studying.
- Natural protection from flooding and droughts. During wet weather, wetlands act as a huge sponge. They catch and hold water to keep it from flooding homes, roads, and fields.
- Erosion prevention by holding on to the earth with their roots and absorbing the wave action of ponds and lakes.
- Water purification. Wetlands help make dirty water pure, fresh, and sparkling. It’s like attaching a water filter to your kitchen faucet. The roots and stems of wetland plants act as filters catching dirt and pollutants from rain or runoff water. The clean water seeps down into the ground where it supplies our wells with pure drinking water.
Kaw Nation Wetland at Beaver Creek
In 2003, an inter-agency idea was proposed to enhance a small wetland site located within the Kaw Wildlife Management Area. The 40 acre site was named the Beaver Creek Wetland and the US Natural Resources Conservation Commission (NRCS) was asked to assist with the design of the enhancement. The Beaver Creek Wetland is located near the site of the historic Beaver Creek Nightclub in eastern Kay County. The legal description of the site is E ¼ Sec. 3 T24N R5E.
The construction of the wetland started in 2005, with this phase, two lowland ponds and the wetland dike along the previous county road area were constructed.
Once the construction was completed we had 20 acres of seasonal water coverage compared to the 1 3/4 acre previously there. In 2006 we also installed a lookout tower and birdhouses throughout the wetland.
Since the completion of the wetland, we are able to track the changes in water level, and see how the wetland functions.
As can be seen by the above pictures, the wetland goes through different stages.. The picture on the left shows the wetland when it is dry. To be a wetland, it just needs to have water on it for 14 days straight in a 12 month period. The middle picture shows the wetland with a normal amount of water on it. The Nation’s wetland stays at this level most of the year. The picture to the right shows the wetland when there has either been a flood or heavy rainfall. The Nation’s wetland can be influenced by Kaw Lake and when the lake is up it will flood back into the wetland.
The wetland has become an outdoor classroom where the KNED takes students to teach them about wetland habitat and the wetland’s part in supporting the ecosystem. Each May since 2011, the KNED has taught middle-school students form area schools at the wetland. Students learn about each role of the wetland—water storage and filtration, sediment trapping, nutrient cycling and flood control. KNED teaches students about water quality monitoring, soil study, and plant and animal identification. Also, during their trip, students visit the Kanza Museum to learn about tribal history and culture and understand the relationship between Kanza culture and environmental preservation.