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Marais des Cygne Headwaters

KRWG Flint Hills Field Trip May 28, 2009

Present Carol Blocksome, Paul Ingle, Cynthia Annett, Laura Calwell, Dewayne Rice, Eric Banner, and Corey Alderson.
The group met in Eskridge in southern Wabaunsee County at 8:30 AM.There they filled up with coffee at the local café and discussed the day’s agenda and objectives. Eric Banner (KDHE) and Corey Alderson (KDWP) both were first timers to the group so an overview was given about the mission of the group. Eric has been studying original land surveys from the mid 1800s and identifying areas where trees were noted in historic riparian areas. Corey is an area biologist for KDWP and replaces Mike McFadden who left to work for the Corps.

The group of seven then loaded up in two pickups and headed out to evaluate two sites that Paul has visited on a number of occasions and feels they are good reference reaches for this group to consider when writing new descriptions. In addition, several other sites were evaluated from the windshield. Both sites are tributary streams mapped as intermittent on the USGS map and both were in grazed native tall grass prairie.
Site one is in Wabaunsee County (section 8-15-12E) and is a trib of Elm Creek.  Before heading out on the trek the soil survey was looked at and it was noted the soil mapper did not differentiate between the upland soils and the narrow band of the intermittent tributary stream.  The grazing regime was double stock early intensive grazing.  Although it had been a wet spring, Paul said he had been in this area in August and it still had wet pools. The trib had been manipulated in the past with a pond constructed on it which has now resulted in a new channel where the old spillway of the dam had been.  A headcut was also identified that was working its way upstream. The upper end could best be described as a wet meadow, with a number of deep perennial pools and braided channels. Trees were scarce in the upper end. The group all agreed this was an excellent reference reach.

Around 12:30 PM the group loaded up again and headed south for lunch into Lyon County.  An unimproved 1.5 mile section of county road was traversed to observe several sites on the way by. One site was a stark contrast with a nice woody draw and intermittent stream on the east side of the road and more of an ephemeral draw/channel west side of the road that was virtually treeless. The road was a bit of a challenge as it had rained a little bit the day before, but the group made it successfully into Lyon County with just two muddy trucks and 2 frazzled drivers.  A good discussion was held at the Main Street Pub&Grill over lunch in Allen.

After lunch the group headed back north to site 2 in north Lyon County (section 22-15-11E) a trib of 142-Mile Creek. The afternoon trek started on a trib of the trib. Paul has been observing this trib for a number of years and has seen good perennial pools even in mid to late summer. Upon reaching the main trib more trees were observed but most were hedge and locust with very few “trees of value” observed. Eric noted that historic records observed no trees this far up into the watershed.  Further downstream braided channels were observed and also moderate to severe streambank erosion. The main channel was not stable and still widening.  An unusual aquatic plant was observed choking the channel at one point; in addition, there was excessive algae observed. The group was in agreement most, if not all, trees could be removed from this site and still have a proper functioning system.

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