The Cheyenne Bottoms are among the greatest natural treasures of Kansas, drawing hunters and birders from throughout the state and far beyond with a riot of ducks, geese, whooping cranes and other wildlife. But the important wetlands system long had to speak for itself, offering visitors no opportunity to ask questions or otherwise fully comprehend what they see there. That changed with Friday's opening of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center near Great Bend, a 11,000-square-foot, $4.2 million facility for research and public education. Kansans owe their appreciation to Kansas Wildlife and Parks Secretary Mike Hayden and project partners including Fort Hays State University, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the city of Great Bend and the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation, which gave $500,000 for the center's Koch Wetlands Exhibit. As the attraction helps interpret Cheyenne Bottoms for kids and other visitors, it stands to both enrich their visit and underscore the need for conservation.
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