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KWEC hosts professional courses
new kl Kwec
Professionals from Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma study at Cheyenne Bottoms although it is currently dry. Kansas Wetlands Education Center Manager Curtis Wolf explained that there is usually more water in the summer at the Bottoms than there is now, but it has emptied out because of the drought. The water in CB comes primarily from above ground sources such as rain and drainage. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Eleven professionals from across the Midwest met this week at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center to study wetlands and defining wetlands.
The course, taught by Charles J. Newling of Briggsville, Wis., called Wetland Delineation, is a certification course for consulting firms and state biologists needing training in determining if a parcel of land is a wetland and if permits are needed for construction.
“In fact, it’s definitely a part of our mission to have research,” said Curtis Wolf, manager of KWEC.  Currently, “we have 5-7 graduate students doing research. This is another use of our facility.”
The class is an intensive, short course on training in laws pertaining to the Clean Water Acts. Cheyenne Bottoms is currently completely dry, while Quivira National Wildlife Refuge has a little water. QNWR receives more of its water from ground flow, said Wolf.
The students spent half the day in the classroom, and half of the day in the field, either at CB or QNWR. Newling explained that the soil at CB naturally contains a lot of mineral salts, and calls for advanced soil testing.
It is actually good that the Bottoms have no water right now because recognizing a wetlands without water is important, according to Newling. “It will help people stay on the right side of the law,” said Newling. He teaches classes all over the U.S.
There are three parameters to recognize a wetlands and it must include all three. They are:
•The right kinds of plants, including the salt grass and bull rushes found at the Bottoms.
•Hydric soil. Hydric soil is formed under conditions of saturation, flood or ponding, developing an ability to live without oxygen.
•Current hydrology or movement of water.
The point of the class is to help the students identify and collect information which will stand up through lawsuits, said Newling.
“Most of the students have biology degrees or advanced knowledge,” said Newling. All of them are working. “They’ll learn an additional new skill that is critical for any projects around water. We teach people how to stay in compliance with the law.”
Wolf is pleased about the classes. “This will benefit us big time, getting the word out.”
There are very few places to get this type of training, and almost impossible to find this region, Wolf said.
Newling works for the Wetland training Institute Inc. There are 20 individuals in the association that will provide about 18 courses for professionals concerning wetlands.