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PBPN Sign Historic Wetlands Contract

Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Chairman Joseph Rupnick, Bureau of Indian Affairs Superintendent Antoinette Houle and Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist Karen Woodrich display the ceremonial contracts for the wetland restoration project.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) commemorated the approval of an Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Wetland Reserve Easement (ACEP-WRE) contract on Monday, December 17, 2018, in an event held at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort.

The contract approval marks a momentous event in Kansas; this is the first Tribal Wetland long-term contract established in Kansas, and one of only a handful throughout the United States. Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation has entered into a 30-year contract with NRCS to restore the functions and values of an existing wetland located on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation.

“The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is thankful for the opportunity to return this portion of land back to its natural wetland condition and for the area’s high potential to provide environmental education. We look forward to having our youth and the community visit the site and experience direct learning about the unique attributes a wetland provides for water resources and the environment,” said Joseph Rupnick, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Chairman.

PBPN Tribal Chairman Joseph Rupnick addresses the crowd and expresses the importance of returning the land to its natural state.

The wetland restoration area consists of 31.7 acres located just west of I road and south of 134 Rd on the E1/2 NW1/4 Se. 7-9-14. The project was initiated in 1996 under the direction of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Planning and Environmental Protection department according to PBPN PEP director, Virginia LeClere. Over the course of many years, and many staff contributing to the project, it is now a reality.

A conservation map detailing specific areas of the wetlands project.

The primary objectives of this project are to restore and enhance wetland wildlife habitat and improve the overall water quality for the contract area. The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation aspire to restore the values and functions of the degraded wetland by restoring hydrology and enhancing the wetland and adjacent upland buffer area for pollinators.
The first phase of the project will begin in early spring of 2019. The PBPN Land Maintenance and Road & Bridge departments will start excavation and groundwork to create dikes, berms, and pools as designed by engineer plans.

This area will also be used for educational outreach and provide opportunities for hunting, trapping, and recreational bird watching. A walking path will be established for visitors to reach the center area of the wetlands in order to observe the natural wildlife in their restored habitat.

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PBPN Chairman Joseph Rupnick, BIA Superintendent Antoinette Houle and NRCS State Conservationist Karen Woodrich signing the ceremonial contracts establishing the wetlands 30-year contract.

Several programs have been and will be involved in establishing the wetlands project. Members of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Council are joined by PBPN Planning and Environmental Protection, Land Maintenance, and Road & Bridge staff, along with Bureau of Indian Affairs Horton Agency staff and representatives of the USDA.