STAFFORD COUNTY – Staff from the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in Kansas and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Denver Regional Office recently met with representatives from the Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5 (District) to discuss future opportunities to collaborate on water management and conservation. The Dec. 5 meeting at the refuge near Stafford reaffirmed the Fish and Wildlife’s commitment to working closely with partners, including the District, to find local, voluntary, collaborative and non-regulatory solutions to address water needs of surrounding communities, while also achieving the refuge’s wildlife conservation purposes.
The meeting successfully established mutual understanding and shared perspectives between participants, paving the way for ongoing discussions and future collaboration between the Service and the District in 2020. The meeting focused on background about the refuge’s ongoing water impairment claim, and local community needs and concerns. Other topics discussed included: past and present conservation efforts to reduce water usage, ways to improve water conservation and available water modeling tools and opportunities moving forward.
Both the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Groundwater Management District committed to future meetings to delve into the technical aspects of water management. A preferred plan or proposal to remedy the refuge’s water impairment was not discussed during this initial meeting. Future discussions could include using a range of options and will also include opportunities for additional partner and public involvement.
“Together with the District, we are committed to working on collaborative, mutually-beneficial water management efforts to benefit people and wildlife, now and into the future,” said Assistant Regional Director of the National Wildlife Refuge System Will Meeks. “We have a long history of working with local communities and private landowners to support local needs, while meeting refuge requirements to provide healthy habitats and wildlife for the American people.”
“The District is excited to be working together with the Service in crafting a reasonable, sustainable resolution that is based on the best science we have available to us today,” said Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5 District Manager Orrin Feril. “We look forward to continuing our discussions with the Service and other stakeholders in the region to determine a meaningful path forward that will be effective and long-lasting.”
“Ensuring the safety and well-being of staff, visitors and the local community is our top priority,” said Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Manager Mike Oldham. “We look forward to serving as good neighbors and seeking sustainable, long-term options and solutions to better manage water for local communities and wildlife in 2020 and beyond.”
The Service and the District anticipate meeting regularly over the coming weeks and months. Both the Service and the District are committed to providing future updates to keep the public informed.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen in the West, visit our website, connect with us on Instagram and Facebook, follow us on Twitter, watch our YouTube channel, and download public domain photos from Flickr.