KAWS Places New Executive Director

“The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS) has placed Jeff Neel, Manhattan, as our new executive director,” said Brad Loveless, KAWS Board president. “The vacancy was created with the retirement of Harold Klaege who served in the position for over five years. Neel began his duties August 1.”

            Neel comes to KAWS from a position as an environmental consultant in his own Blue Earth business. He has a long history with KAWS serving on the KAWS Three Rivers Chapter board when he worked as an Extension/Research Associate at Kansas State University, and having contracted for Geographic Information System (GIS) services with KAWS for a number of projects, said Loveless. Neel has worked with KAWS staff previously to develop GIS products related to watershed, riparian forest, and wetland assessments, and helped to develop assessment methods that are being used as a standard at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Kansas Forest Service, and the Kansas Water Office. Our Board directors are quite pleased to have Jeff move into the director’s position, he continued.

            “Through our joint efforts we have developed the progressive capacity to identify wetland sites for protection, enhancement, and creation in numerous watersheds; identify riparian sites for forestry management, protection and establishment in the Delaware River basin; and consequently, now, are gaining a better understanding of the timing of floodplain connectivity to riparian forest and wetlands,” said Neel. “We hope to guide restoration efforts and best management practice (BMPs) implementation in theNeosho River basin by providing this information to the stakeholder leadership team in the area. Additionally, assessment work in a range of KHDE’s Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategywatersheds throughout the state has led to recognition of sites to implement BMPs associated with animal feeding operations, stream bank erosion sites, riparian buffer sites, ephemeral gully erosion sites, and potential terrace outlet retention and treatment areas in more than twenty watersheds. One notable example of our success was evidenced when our watershed assessment efforts led to 20-plus stream bank stabilization sites being selected along the main stem of the Delaware River for American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 funding to stabilize stream banks contributing to sedimentation of the watershed system and Perry Lake.”

            KAWS is an integrator, like the waters that unite and connect us all, Neel said. I see KAWS bringing together diverse partners interested in a healthy future for our state and a higher quality life for Kansans that builds on our rich heritage. Our streams, rivers, wetlands, riparian areas, prairies, and soils are the gut-like indicators of what kind of future we can expect for ourselves and future generations. What we do to them we do to ourselves and our progeny. My vision for KAWS is to make sure our integrated future is a proud one with our partners working together in more thoughtful, efficient, and ecological ways.

            KAWS has been fortunate to have Harold Klaege’s good help through an important phase in the organization’s development, and we wish him well in retirement, noted Loveless. We are excited to have Jeff now in this leadership role and we anticipate new opportunities for KAWS to protect and enhanceKansas‘ streams, wetlands, and riparian areas.

            KAWS was organized in 1994 and is a 501.c.3 nonprofit. The mission is to ensure the future of wetlands, streams, and their adjacent riparian areas as integral parts of our Kansas heritage and landscape. KAWS meets its mission through a variety of educational and outreach efforts, demonstration projects, and other activities. To learn more about KAWS, go to KAWS office is located at 

1228 Westloop Place

 PMB#234, ManhattanKS 66502-2840.  Contact Neel at [email protected], phone (785) 410-0040.