It is exciting to have KAWS be in a place that it can now assist other emerging conservation non-profits grow their capacity
Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS) first became a Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV) Capacity grantee in 2002, and at the time, had only one staff member. KAWS was also a grant recipient in 2008 and since these initial years, has currently grown to nine staffers across the state of Kansas and continues to make strides in educating agencies, organizations and landowners of the need to address wetland, stream and riparian area issues in the PLJV area.
The KAWS team has developed an annual Playa Workshop that continues to grow and increase awareness of playas among producers and landowners. Several North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants have been developed between KAWS and DU to advance the conservation of Kansas’ wetlands. KAWS also holds a leadership role in the Kansas Natural Resources Conference – an annual, multi-discipline professional conference that attracts participants from across the region.
For many years, the KAWS team has managed Watershed Protection and Restoration Strategy (WRAPS) projects throughout eastern Kansas. Most recently, KAWS has partnered with other organizations to add several program-focused staff positions: a Conservation Easement Specialist in partnership with NRCS and KDWP, an Arkansas River National Water Trail Project Coordinator through a National Recreational Trails grant, and a highly-collaborative Watershed Technician in the John Redmond Watershed. This Watershed Technician is a boots-on-the-ground tech who assists landowners by installing habitat and watershed protection initiatives.
Since 1996, KAWS has grown from an alliance of watershed groups to a statewide non-profit organization that now has the capacity to assist other emerging conservation organizations. In 2021, KAWS became the fiscal sponsor for Great Plains Regeneration, a new non-profit whose mission is “Healthy soil creates healthy plants, healthy animals and healthy people.”
PLJV’s investment to grow the capacity of KAWS continues to be paid forward.