Clickable Map of  Cheyenne Bottoms,

The Wetland of International Importance

ES 546

Earth Science Department

Emporia State University

Fall 2004

Course Project

by Tamara Korenman

Cheyenne Bottoms, one of the world's most important wildlife areas, is located in central Kansas, just north of the Arkansas River near Great Bend. Cheyenne Bottoms occupies approximately 64 square miles (166 kmē) in Barton County near Great Bend and Hoisington.  It is managed in part by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and partly by the Nature Conservancy (Aber, J and Pavri, F.  Cheyenne Bottoms, KS)


In the fall of 1998, Cheyenne Bottoms was designated a "Wetland of International Importance" under a worldwide treaty.  Many consider Cheyenne Bottoms to be the most important stopover site for bird migration in all of North America, if not the entire western hemisphere (Aber, J.  

ES 546 Project Summary)


The basin is developed in lower Cretaceous bedrock overlying upper Permian salt-bearing strata. Subsurface salt solution is a possible cause for subsidence of the basin, and wind erosion may have further scoured the basin. The sedimentary record of Cheyenne Bottoms encompasses the past 100,000 years (Zimmerman 1990).  During this interval, the bottoms has alternated between wet and dry conditions many times. Since the end of the Pleistocene Epoch 10,000 years ago, a distinct drying trend developed and culminated in the hypsithermal or altithermal, a period of warmer and drier conditions across the western United States a few 1000 years ago. More recently the world's climate has cooled slightly during the past three millennia. Cheyenne Bottoms has continued to experience wet and dry cycles until the present (Aber, J.  Wetland Environments)


On the ground, Cheyenne Bottoms appears essentially flat with almost no relief across the basin. However, the bottoms does have distinct geomorphic zones. The state wildlife area includes the "downstream" end of the enclosed drainage system, which occupies an oval depression in the southeastern end of the larger basin. Water drainage in this portion is closely managed via inlet/outlet canals along with numerous levees, gates, and water pumps. The Nature Conservancy lands include delta complexes of Blood and Deception creeks in the "upstream" end of the bottoms. The small deltas and associated marshes resemble the geomorphic pattern of the Mississippi Delta. Immediately northeast of Cheyenne Bottoms is a small region of sand-hills terrain--location of Camp Aldrich (Aber, J.


Index map for Cheyenne Bottoms vicinity, based on Landsat TM band 5 (mid-infrared) image; 10 July 1989. This Landsat TM scene illustrates conditions prior to changes in land management introduced by the Nature

Conservancy and state wildlife area in the 1990s (Aber, J. ES 546 Project Summary)


Clicking on the yellow dots, find images and information about the Cheyenne Bottoms features.



Aber, J., Eddy, T. and, Smith, G.  Wetlands Environments.

Course offered by the Earth Science Department, Emporia State University


Aber, J. and Pavri, F. Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, HYSPIRE

Kansas NASA EPSCoR Rural Resources Cluster


Ball, J.P. 1990.  Influence of subsequent flooding depth on cattail control by burning and mowing. Journal of  Aquatic Plant Management. 28:32-36


Cheyenne Bottoms Driving Tour

Funded by Kansas Audubon


ES 546 Project Summary, Cheyenne Bottoms, KS

Course offered by the Earth Science Department, Emporia State University


Galatowitsch, S.M., Anderson, N., & Ascher, P. 1999.  Invasiveness in wetland plants in temperature North America.  Wetlands 19: 733-755


Great Bend Convention & Visitors Bureau: Hunting and Fishing


Hands, H.  Kansas travelers--importance of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in shorebird migration--includes related bird observation tips--brief Article--Cover story.  Natural History, May, 1998


Hunting Services


Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. 1995. Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area Management Plan.  Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt


Kansas Hunting Report: Region 3 Southwest Kansas


Mallik, A.&Wein, R. 1986. Response of a Typha marsh community to draining, flooding, and seasonal burning.  Can. J. Bot. 64::2136-2143


Newman, S., Schuette, J., Grace, J., Rutchey, K., Fontaine, T., Reddy, K.,& Pietrucha, M. 1998.  Factors influencing cattail abundance in the northern Everglades.  Aquatic Botanic. 60:265-280.


Saenz, J.H. Jr., & Smith, L. (1995).  Effects of spring and fall burning on cattails in South Dakota, pp. 151-157. In: Cerulean, S. and Engstrom (eds.).  Fire in Wetlands: A Management Perspective Proc. Tall Timber Fire Ecology Conf., No. 19, Tall Timbers Res. Sta., Tallahassee, FL


Smith, L. (1989).  Effects of grazing and burning on nutritive quality of cattail in playas.  Journal of Aquatic Plant Management, 27: 51-53


Smith, L., & Kadlec, J. (1985).  Fire and Herbivory in a Great Salt Lake marsh.  Ecology. 66:259-265


Thoms, J.  Hunting the Bottoms. Waterfowling in the Great Bend Region of Central Kansas


Von Loh, J. & Oliver, K. (1999).  1998 annual report--geographic information system database Cheynne Bottoms Wildlife Area, Kansas.  Tech Mem. No. 8260-99-04, U.S. Dept. Int., Bur. Reclam., Denver, CO


Zimmerman, J. (1990). Cheyenne Bottoms: Wetland in Jeopardy.  University Press of Kansas