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Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River WRAPS project recognized


In late 2006, the Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Watershed Restoration And Protection Strategies (WRAPS) project approached Dr. Bob Stephenson of Fort Hays State University to develop a plan and partnership for collecting water samples in the watersheds. It happened to be the perfect timing as graduate student at the time, James Leiker, needed a project in the fall of 2006 to fulfill graduation requirements. The WRAPS group, Stephenson, and Leiker selected key locations to help determine pollutant loading in the Big Creek Watershed and the effect the City of Hays had on overall watershed pollutant loading.

The team set-up a sampling schedule that included set days of the month and following at least 1/2-inch rainfall event that would trigger runoff within the City of Hays. FHSU allows the team to use monitoring equipment, a laboratory, and a University vehicle for the project. The team runs the suspended solid and bacteria analysis and then the samples are transported to Kansas State University for the nitrogen and phosphorus, analysis. The team quickly learned that additional sampling locations needed to be added to get a better gauge on pollutant loading across the watersheds. As of December 2008, the project currently has 33 sampling locations.

Leiker quickly fulfilled his graduation requirement and stayed on the project continuing with no financial incentives until he was hired by the WRAPS group in August 2007. To date, Stephenson continues to collaborate and promote this project with no financial incentives.

Stephenson and Leiker use what they learn in the field to educate others in the watersheds in the following ways: 1) sharing with government officials from the City of Hays to look at ways to improve urban water quality; 2) teaching other FHSU students by taking them out to collect samples and then teaching them how to run the suspended solid tests and how to interpret the results; 3) by sharing with community residents at the Annual Home & Garden Show and at the Annual Community Water Festival, which are both held at The Mall in Hays; and 4) designing posters and displays for use at professional meetings.

The Kansas Wildlife Federation wishes to recognize the efforts of all these individuals through the bestowing of the Stream Team of the Year for 2008 to the Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies Project.

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