Finney State Lake
Wildlife Area

Christopher Allen and Logan Smith

Fall 2016
ES 555 Small-Format Aerial Photography
Dr. James S. Aber

Table of Contents
Aerial Photos


Finney State Lake and Wildlife Area is a small reservoir located in northeast Finney County approximately eight miles north and two miles west of Kalvesta, Kansas. Built upon a tributary of the Pawnee River, the reservoir serves as a hunting and fishing area (when water levels permit) to enthusiasts (Finney, 2016). In total, the Finney State Lake and Wildlife Area consists of 660 acres total (Aber et al). The Finney reservoir was developed as part of the New Deal set on by President Roosevelt. In 1933, F.W. Kinney donated 60 acres of land to Kansas Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. This would be followed by an additional 780 acres donated by Kinney in 1934. In 1935 the state purchased an additional 14 acres of land, making a total of 854 acres. Construction began on the dam in November 17th, 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and ended on April 1st, 1935. In total four people died in the construction of the dam. They and the Corps are represented on a plaque memorial (Finney, 2016).

Kite photograph of the Finney State Lake dam.
Patches of algae can be seen in the right side of the lake.

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Aerial Photography

During the weekend of October 7 through 9, a field trip was conducted which visitied Finney State Lake and Wildlife Area for a kite aerial photography session. Lighting conditions were optimal at the start of the afternoon session, and although the wind was blowing in strong it was easily accounted for by flying the kite with a tail. Our visit was during a relatively wet period for the lake, showing it with water well below its maximum levels.

Kite photograph of Finney State Lake. North is to the top left of photo.

The photo above shows the current water level of Finney State Lake along the north side of the lake. A shallow channel can be seen coming from the north, top left of photo, winding its way towards the lake. Farther from the lake, the channel has greener grass than the surrounding field. Rainwater that has fallen in the area finds its way into this channel as it makes its way down towards Finney State Lake, allowing for plants to flourish in the slightly wetter soil.

Kite photograph showing the field north of Finney State Lake in October of 2016.

Just north of where the lake was located at the time of the field trip is a stand of trees. Between the trees and the lake is a mud flat with sparse, shrubby vegetation. The nearby fields with distinctive mowing patterns are used for hunting, evidenced by a pair of hunters arriving at the Wildlife Area during our photography session.

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Precipitation and Water Level

The amount of precipitation received by the area draining into Finney State Lake quite drastically differed between 2014 and 2015. In May of 2015, southwestern Kansas set a record wettest year. Lake Finney was partially filled with water, reaching its greatest water level (NOAA, 2015). In 2012 and onwards the bottom of the lake was planted with wheat, as the lake was completely empty of water (Finney, 2016). NAIP imagery from July of 2014 reflects this, showing a totally dry lakebed.

NAIP imagery from the USGS showing Finney Lake in July of 2014.
The portion of the lake shown containing water in previous photos is planted with wheat.

With the record amount of rainfall in 2015, the lake was able to fill with water to a depth even greater than when we saw the lake during our class field trip. The following plot shows Finney Lake with a northern shore beyond a stand of trees present in a previous photo. This is the highest water level that photographic evidence shows Finney Lake to have ever reached. From this information, it can be interpreted that Finney Lake requires exceptionally wet years to retain much water.

NAIP imagery from the USGS showing Finney Lake in September of 2015.
The stand of trees in the center of the lake is inundated with water.

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Earth Explorer. United States Geologic Service. Accessed on December 6, 2016.

Finney/Southwest Region/State Fishing Lakes/Locations/KDWPT Info/KDWPT - KDWPT. Kansas Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism. Accessed on December 1, 2016.

Finney State Lake and Wildlife Area, Kansas. Aber, J.S. and Aber, S.W. 2016. Accessed on December 1, 2016.

National Temperature and Precipitation Maps. National Centers for Environmental Information. Accessed on December 1, 2016.

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