The Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to be if you're a whooping crane needing a mid-migration rest.
It's also a fine year-round home for a mink looking to settle down and raise a few minklets.
But it's not a good place to be an eastern red cedar or locust tree.
Around Quivira, piles of both are stacked high on bulldozed ground waiting to be burned.
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More tree removal is coming.
"The overall goal is grassland restoration," said Dan Severson, refuge manager. "That means we're taking out a lot of cedars and invasive trees."
Severson said what's now the refuge was once mostly sand prairie, which is now a particularly rare ecosystem thanks, somewhat, to humans.
"A lot of these trees came to the prairie in the '30s, when there was a big push to keep soil from blowing," he said. "They've kind of become part of the prairie as they've expanded."
And they haven't made many positive contributions.
On a recent tour, biologist Rachel Laubhan walked into a locust grove of about one-half acre.
"There's not a lot of undergrowth here for a diversity of wildlife," she said, walking amid thick tree trunks and on an inch-high blanket of cheat grass.
A few yards away, she walked through chest-high tall grass prairie of several assorted grasses and forbs, the kind of place that could support anything from tiny sparrows and voles to mature whitetail bucks.
"This is some of what we're trying for," she said. "Good, healthy tall grass prairie."
As well as locust groves, Severson said the refuge will continue its ongoing fight against salt cedar, an invasive tree growing in moist areas. It, too, allows no productive plants to grow nearby.
They'll reach as many cedar trees as possible. Elms, Osage orange, hackberry and other trees are also on the hit list.
The area's main original tree — cottonwoods — will largely be allowed to grow. Sand plum, a bush found in sand prairie, will be managed.
"It's a native plant but it should not be as dominant as it has become," Severson said. "It's a plant that should be in the neighborhood of 10 percent of the prairie, not as thick or tall as it is now. Ten foot sand plum is not normal."
He also said an added benefit to massive tree eradication will be the freeing-up of huge amounts of water, which could help Quivira's marshes.
Eventually, it's hoped native species of wildlife now uncommon or totally missing from Quivira will come back as the prairie renovation project continues.
"When we lost the great grassland habitat, we lost some great grassland birds that would be on the prairie," Severson said. "Lesser prairie chickens used to be on the refuge. Hopefully we can get some of those grassland birds back."
Getting the native grasses back is going to take time. Seed blends that feature a variety of native grasses and forbs will be planted.
It could be several years before people enjoy the sight of head-high bluestem, vibrant wild flowers and the wildlife they'll attract.
Some wildlife species that have done well as trees have increased also may be less common.
"There are a lot of places where people can bird on degraded prairie," Severson said. "There's a lot more of that than quality prairie. My goal is to have the very best example of sand prairie, with mixed marshes, possible."