By MIKE COURSON
Great Bend Post
A construction project and dry conditions continue to conspire to keep Cheyenne Bottoms dry. Storms that were predicted to drop several of inches of moisture in the area late last week instead yielded rain totals of an inch or less around most of Barton County. Kansas Wetlands Education Center Director Curtis Wolf said current drought are similar to those experienced 10 years ago.
"That was just a terrible string of drought we went through then," he said. "It was towards the beginning of August we had a large rain. I think it was a six or seven-inch rain, and broke that drought. It pretty well filled everything up. We actually had a really good fall migration after that. It only takes one rain to fill things up again, but the forecast doesn't look real good for that."
Wolf said some species of birds have already started the fall, south-bound migration. With no pools at the Bottoms, those birds are likely to bypass the area this year.
"Those birds aren't going to be stopping here," he said. "They're going to find other wet areas or just skip through the area and try to make it to the next place, wherever that is."
Unfortunately, that means the Bottoms and KWEC will also see a decrease in traffic this year unless conditions improve. "We would start seeing some of the bird watchers coming in, especially on weekends," Wolf said. "When we don't have the habitat here, they're not going to be coming, either."
Except for spotty showers Wednesday, conditions are to remain hot and dry for much of the state over the next week. According to drought.gov, June 2022 was the 50th driest on record in Kansas in the last 128 years, and 2022 has been the 52nd driest year in that span. Much of the southwest corner of the state remains in extreme and exceptional drought conditions though the northeast corner of Barton County has been upgraded to "abnormally dry."