11 Oct KARA Applauds Senator Moran and Governor Kelly’s Work to Push USFWS and KDA to Continue Discussions on Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Solution
On Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sent a letter to the Kansas Dept. of Agriculture (KDA) requesting, in lieu of KDA’s Division of Water Resources issuing administration orders at this time for 2024, the state formulate a working group to develop a solution involving the federal government, groundwater management districts and other stakeholders to develop options to begin implementation in January 2025.
Kansas United States Senator Jerry Moran and Governor Laura Kelly have been in frequent communication with USFWS on the negative impacts executing a call for water would’ve had on the state.
“Our association is appreciative of Senator Moran and Governor Kelly’s efforts explaining the devastation a call for water would have had not only on the producers within the Rattlesnake Creek Basin, but also the local agribusinesses and state as a whole,” Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association President and CEO Ron Seeber said. “We are pleased the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) acknowledged Senator Moran and Governor Kelly’s concerns and has made the decision to allow for the fair approach of working with stakeholders and the Kansas Dept. of Agriculture to find a sustainable, long-term solution.”
The Rattlesnake Creek Basin has long provided water to the region’s agriculture industry and to migratory and resident wildlife in the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is managed by the USFWS, which earlier this year renewed its call for water.
The announcement means that USFWS has agreed to conditionally pause its request to secure its senior water right as it directs KDA and local stakeholders to find a practicable and permanent solution to the current impairment.
Senator Jerry Moran has, for several years, called on USFWS to work with KDA toward a solution.
“I appreciate the effort from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to listen to Kansans and hear their concerns with the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed,” said Senator Jerry Moran. “It is important we establish long-term solutions that support the refuge and the regional economy, and I am pleased that all parties are working together towards a sustainable future for the watershed and our Kansas producers.”
In September, Governor Kelly sent a letter to the director of USFWS to work with the KDA’s Division of Water Resources to find a solution to the issue. In the letter, she wrote that a “failure to reach a collaborative and gradual solution will create unnecessary economic hardships for local businesses and communities that will ripple across the state and region.”
“I am pleased that both parties have agreed to collaborate on a sustainable solution for all who rely on the Rattlesnake Creek Basin,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “By working together, we can show how agricultural producers and all water rights holders can rise to the challenge to meet our state’s water needs now and into the future.”