Kirk Thompson named wetland manager of the year

Kirk Thompson, Public Lands manager at Benedictine Bottoms Wildlife Area, was recently named Kansas Ducks Unlimited’s Wetland Manager of the Year, and for those who know Thompson, it comes as little surprise.

A Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism employee of 34 years, Thompson knows what it means to be dedicated to something. His work with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) on the Missouri River Mitigation properties, and his efforts to repair seepage issues at the 56 manageable wetland areas he oversees at the Benedictine Bottoms Wildlife area, are proof of that.

“Kirk has worked diligently with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers on the Missouri River Mitigation properties to develop and enhance wetlands,” said KDWPT Public Lands Supervisor Dustin Mengarelli, who nominated Thompson. He added that the multi-million dollar USACE mitigation project created 5.75 miles of side chute shallow water channels that create a more natural stream bed flow regime. Thompson worked closely with the USACE during the mitigation work to develop two wetlands at the Dalbey Wildlife Area, south of Atchison, totaling 58 acres.

Mengarelli added that Thompson has taken it upon himself to work with the USACE mitigation funds to address water loss at Benedictine Bottoms Wildlife Area.

“He spread over 1,300 tons of bentonite clay on these wetlands in an effort to seal up the leaking pools. He has worked diligently to repair the three wells at the Bottoms, one of which was approximately 50 years old,” said Mengarelli. “His hard work is paying off as the wetlands have begun to hold water and the pumps are able to fill the units instead of temporarily maintaining water levels.”