Kanopolis Lake Whooping Cranes

By Pam Bates, FOTWW

Kanopolis Lake is a reservoir in Ellsworth County in the Smoky Hills of central Kansas. The lake is formed by Kanopolis Dam and was completed in 1948 as a flood control and water conservation project of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Kanopolis Lake

Eight Whooping Cranes (5 adults and 3 juveniles) visiting Kanopolis Lake in Kansas Photo was taken by Brandon Beckman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps manages Kanopolis Dam and Kanopolis Lake for the purposes of flood damage reduction, recreation, fish and wildlife management, and water supply and quality management. It also oversees 11,000 acres (45 km2) of land around the reservoir, conducting prairie restoration, prescribed burning, and tree planting in order to conserve soil and benefit wildlife. The Corps also leases 41 units of land totaling roughly 12,500 acres (51 km2) to area farmers to use with designated wildlife management requirements.

The Corps has an outstanding wildlife program on Kanopolis Lake according to Friends of the Wild Whoopers’ (FOTWW) President Chester McConnell who visited the lake a week ago as part of FOTWW’s continuing “Stopover Habitat” program. FOTWW is evaluating Whooping Crane habitat potential on Corps’ lakes and making recommendations to protect and improve where needed. McConnell explained that, “I have been very pleased at the Corps’ programs on the lakes I have visited and I have observed  lots of very good Whooping Crane habitat.”

Eight Whooping Cranes (5 adults and 3 juveniles) visited the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Kanopolis Lake in Kansas this past weekend (Nov. 18-19), evidence that their habitat and wildlife management program is working.

 

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***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****
Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

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Farmer files federal lawsuit to prevent wind farm from starting, to protect Whooping Cranes

Farmer files federal lawsuit to prevent recently completed Pratt area wind farm from starting, to protect Whooping Cranes

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Wind farm project area

PRATT – A Pratt County farmer has filed a suit in federal court seeking to prevent a new wind farm in Pratt County from starting up because of the risk he believes it poses to Whooping Cranes.

Edwin Petrowsky, a former member of the Pratt County Zoning Commission, filed the suit Nov. 23 seeking temporary and permanent injunctions against NextEra Energy Resources.

Petrowsky contends the Ninnescah Wind Farm, which consists of 121 wind generators in the southeast quadrant of the county, is in the flyway of the Aransas-Wood Buffalo Whooping Crane, which is an endangered species. The wind farm is expected to go online next week.

At last count, there was only an estimated 329 wild Aransas-Wood cranes in North America.

Petrowsky charges that NextEra is aware of the danger the project is creating, yet has failed to obtain an “incidental taking permit” that would allow the incidental killing of some birds under the Endangered Species Act.

NextEra spokesperson Steve Stengel said that the company has worked with state and federal authorities “all throughout development of the project” and that the siting of the turbines “has taken into account migratory flyways.”

“Whooping Cranes generally fly higher than the heights of the turbines,” Stengel said. “But, in working with the agencies, we have agreed to ongoing bird monitoring at the site.”

According to an earlier story in the Pratt Tribune, the company has agreed to bird and bat monitoring during its first year of operation, “to track mortality rates.” The farm is also in an area with a high number of bat hibernation sites.

Parts of the wind farm, which will generate 200 megawatts of electricity that Westar Energy is under a 20-year contract to purchase, are within 35 to 40 miles of the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms, both designated as critical habitat for the whooping crane. The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, another designated habitat, is also nearby.

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***** FOTWW’s mission is to help preserve and protect the Aransas/Wood Buffalo
population of wild whooping cranes and their habitat. *****

Friends of the Wild Whoopers is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization.

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