Newton wetland project seeking volunteer help

Chad Frey
The Kansan

A wetlands park project is moving forward on SW 14th, despite visual evidence to the contrary. One step in the process of creating a bird-watching haven is coming up this week. 

A wetlands created during a bank restoration project on Sand Creek has been closed to the public, despite becoming a birding hotspot. That could change, with the city approving a move forward to create a park using private funds.

And organizers want the help of the community for what is a simple job — collecting native plant seeds for planting at the new park.   

"We really just want people to come out and have a little bit of ownership in this new park," aid Libby Albers with the Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams "....we are excited to have the community to be part of this project." 

Members of the Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams and staff of Dyck Arboretum will be hosting a seed collection at Kauffman Museum in North Newton at 6 p.m. Sept. 1, 22 and 29.

The three night event has been dubbed "Wetland Wednesdays."

Volunteers will be able to learn what to collect from Brad Guhr, a horticulturalist for Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston. 

"They are providing all the technical leadership for this, teaching us to collect the seed and collecting the right things to make sure we are not picking up things that will be invasive," Albers said. 

Volunteers should wear long pants and close toed shoes. They should also bring their own water bottles, and a pair of scissors or small cutting tools if they desire.  

The goal is to collect seeds that can add to the variety of plant life at the new park — a site that was created during a Sand Creek restoration project that created the wetlands and made use of native grasses. 

"We hope that by direct sowing some wild flowers we will get more diversity. ... It has had exposure to native seeds in the area in the last decade," Albers said. "We want to bring in more diverse birds and wildlife in the area."