High, cloud-tossed skies and a seemingly endless sea of sage-colored foliage sweep off to the far horizon at Black Kettle National Grasslands, a protected, lake-dotted region popular with outdoors enthusiasts, wandering cattle and photographers.
A story of environmental devastation and successful habitat restoration. The mined land wildlife area, better know as the Strip Pits, is in Cherokee County. Mining in the area began in the late 1800s. Today, the area is characterized by woodlands, healthy grasslands, and abundant water. The area includes 46 tracts of land totalling 14,500 acres. Several hundred water-filled pits dot the acres of public waters. More than 200 lakes on the area are managed for fishing. Strip mine lakes produce some of Kansas' finest fishing. Sportfish include largemouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted bass, wipers, bullhead, and warmouth. Some lakes have been specially managed to favor certain fish species. A large lake located within unit 30 is stocked with rainbow trout during late fall through early spring. Unique characteristics of the lake allow trout to survive year-round. A trout stamp is required by anyone fishing for trout. There is a diversity of habitats, including native grassland, woody shrub areas, oak, hickory forests, and wetlands. Waterfowl hunting can be good on the area, along with improved quail havitat. Cottontail rabbits and fox squirrels are abundant. The woodlands areas of the property hold excellant populations of white tailed deer and eastern turkey. The area supports good numbers of raccoons, muskrats, bobcats, beavers, and coyotes. Other furbearers, including mink, and fox are also common. Canoeing is allowed on all MLWA waters, while motorized boats may only be used for fishing. No water skiing or personal watercraft use is allowed. Swimming is NOT allowed on the area. Tent camping is allowed at any location except refuge areas. RV's may be parked in designated areas or parking lots. Certain areas may be closed to hunting and fishing periodically.
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