This season the Cheyenne Bottoms is blooming with beauty after an extraordinarily dry 2013. But this year, said Curtis Wolf, manager at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, "there's water in the bottoms."
Three spring activities at the center, northeast of Great Bend on Kansas Highway 156 at the edge of Cheyenne Bottoms wetlands, will show off that beauty: the annual Wild Goose Chase 5K/3K Fun Run, a series of Greater Prairie Chicken Lek Tours and a Digital Photography Seminar.
The second annual Wild Goose Chase 5K/3K Fun Run, not only a major fundraiser for the center, is also is known as the fastest and flattest 5K/3K in all of Kansas. The run is scheduled for Saturday, April 26. Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m., and the race starts at 9 a.m. Prizes are awarded by age divisions to both men and women. Eagle Communications is a sponsor, helping to gather T-shirt sponsors and provide advertising.
Early registration is $25 for ages 18 and older and $15 for ages 17 and younger. Late registration, after April 15, is $35 for ages 18 and older and $25 for ages 17 and younger. Those who register late are not guaranteed to receive a T-shirt. Registration forms can be found at the website, wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu.
The bizarre and unique mating rituals of the greater prairie chicken are a must-see in April. Male prairie chickens fight, sing and dance to win the affection of females on communal mating grounds known as "leks" (the "e" is pronounced as in "legs"). According to the Nature Conservancy website, the "males drum their feet in stylized dances and make a booming call that can be heard for over a mile."
The dances happen only at sunrise and take about three hours. Guides will drive spectators to a comfortable trailer blind were the leks are located. Ten tours, with a maximum of seven people per tour, are scheduled for April and require a reservation at least two days prior. Cost is $25 per person 12 and older.
The schedule for the remaining eight tours:
Saturday, April 5 at 5:45 a.m.
Tuesday, April 8 at 5:45 a.m.
Friday, April 11 at 5:30 a.m.
Saturday, April 12 at 5:30 a.m.
Tuesday, April 15 at 5:30 a.m.
Friday, April 18 at 5:30 a.m.
Tuesday, April 22 at 5:20 a.m.
Sunday, April 27 at 5:20 a.m.
On Saturday, May 17, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Central Kansas Photography Club of Great Bend and the KWEC will present "A Digital Photography Seminar" by Steve Traudt. Traudt demonstrates refined photography skills -- taking the camera off auto, changing composition and being creative with flash, along with many other tidbits.
Registration before Thursday, May 1, is $49. For students from grade school up, the cost is $39. College students must have a valid student I.D. Lunch will be provided for early registrants but not those who register on the day-of the event.
An outdoor Green Mountain Grill will be raffled off at the Digital Photography Seminar at the cost of $5 per ticket. Attendance at the seminar is not necessary to win. For more information and registration, call Dan Soeke, club vice president, at 620-786-6799 or visit wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu to print and mail a registration form.
For additional information about upcoming events or to register for any of these events, call the KWEC at 1-877-243-9268 or visit wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu.