Baker Wetlands Discovery Center, Lawrence

#19 of 21 in Wildlife in Kansas
Wildlife Area · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
The Haskell-Baker Wetlands is a nature preserve and artificially sustained wetland, spanning approximately 640 acres south of Lawrence, Kansas, United States. It is associated with the Wakarusa River and sustained by levees and flood controls built in the 1990s.

Baker University owns 573 acres, the major portion of the site; Haskell Indian Nations University holds 27 acres, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and the University of Kansas hold 20 acres each. Baker University received its portion by a transfer from the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1968. This area was formerly used for farming by settlers and later was purchased by Haskell to teach farming to its students and be self sustaining. When the school's functions changed, the Department of Interior transferred the property to the HEW, which declared it surplus. It was transferred via the General Services Administration and regular process to Baker University.

In 1969, the National Park Service declared the wetlands a National Natural Landmark. The wetlands support 413 documented species of vascular plant, 265 species of bird, and 61 additional vertebrate species.
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Baker Wetlands Discovery Center reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
9 reviews
  • This is just outside Lawrence on the south side and is bounded on the south by the Wakarusa River. The center is an expansive earth-contact building with educational contents in classrooms and a...  more »
  • The Discovery Center is a great place to begin your visit to the wetlands. It was very cold the day I went, so people were inside taking note of all the birds visiting the feeders and raptors...  more »
  • The building is open during the hours listed. The trails are open dawn-to-dusk. The volunteer at the center the day I was there was very friendly. As of 2017, the wetlands themselves still need to mature to get back to how the old ones were before the highway went through, but it seems to have a good start. In just 30 minutes or so, I saw great blue herons, a red-bellied woodpecker, lots of red-winged blackbirds, rabbits, wood rats, and more.
  • Every time we take the kids we have a great time. We prefer to visit on Sunday when it is less crowded and more peaceful. The staff is very kind and helpful and has helped me kids enjoy many of the activities available.

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