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Vicky Keffer and Judy Rusco stand with the ten sets of binoculars donated to the Kansas Wetlands Education Center on behalf of Wayne Rusco. - photo by KAREN LA PIERRE

CHEYENNE BOTTOMS — With ten new sets of binoculars, the Kansas Wetlands Education Center will now have them available for bird-watching tours of Cheyenne Bottoms.

The donations were made on behalf of Wayne Rusco.

Rusco, was a local cattleman, farmer and sportsman, who was born and raised near Cheyenne Bottoms. Rusco  always had interest in the local wetlands, even as a child. He recalled ice skating with a friend across the frozen water in the winters of his youth. Often finding that the late afternoon sun would start to melt the ice, he would need to skate faster before the thaw came.

"He was never without his binoculars," said his wife Judy Rusco. He would be pleased with the purchase of the binoculars, she said. Rusco passed away in 2006.

Being raised on a farm and growing up around the Bottoms, he always had an interest in the development and maintenance of the natural wetlands. He was fortunate to have witnessed the development and growth of the different features at the Cheyenne Bottoms. As a young man, he helped with the building of the roads and dikes, helped control the growth of cattails, and assisted with numerous fires throughout the years.

"Rusco was a true friend of Cheyenne Bottoms, and the staff that worked there," said Karl Grover, field supervisor of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area. "He was excited to see the development of the new Kansas Wetlands Education Center and would be happy to know that memorials given in his name were used for that purpose."

Curtis Wolf, manager of KWEC, said that the binoculars have been put to good use and several groups have used the binoculars already.