Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Streams--the seventh of a series of the eight Natural Wonders of the Red Hills

The Medicine River at Lake City in Barber County sports its fall wardrobe.
Photo by Lee Ann Brunson
     From the larger rivers of the Red Hills to the smallest of canyon rivulets, the wonderful stream resources of the Red Hills are the lifeblood of the region. The streams are the critical water avenues of human and wild commerce in The Kansas Outback. Often taken for granted, the larger streams are generally permanent flowing, especially in the upper reaches. The Salt Fork of the Arkansas, Crooked Creek, Cimarron River, Bluff Creek, Calvary Creek, and Medicine River represent the larger of these resources. North bank tributaries to the Medicine River, in particular, are fed by a permanent pleistocene-age water source, the Great Bend Prairie Aquifer. These notable streams include Thompson, Spring, Soldier, Turkey, and Elm creeks. Mule Creek and Amber Creek are other significant tributaries in the region. This aquifer also represents life-giving water to communities, industries and agriculture in counties north of the Red Hills. These surface drains to this buried reservoir have constant flow, nurturing tremendous aquatic and riparian plant and animal diversity. Southern red belly dace and Arkansas darters dance above the gravelly, sandy creek bottoms. Red-spotted toads depend on canyon creeks for breeding sites. Barred owls haunt the riparian forests. This land of enchantment is a natural quilt of exotic, wild inhabitants all tied together by the water network of life-giving aquatic threads--the streams of the Red Hills. 

Medicine River at Sun City--named for its natural salts and used for
its known healing powers by Native Americans
Bear Creek out of its banks (Barber County)

Overhanging bank on Little Bear Creek, Barber County
Cimarron River, Comanche County

North Branch Elm Creek, Barber County
A small rivulet on a Barber County ranch showing flow
after the Anderson Creek Wildfire of March, 2016

A winter scene on Elm Creek, near Elm Mills
The uppermost reach of Nescatunga Creek, Comanche County

Salt Fork of the Arkansas River coated by morning fog,
Zbar Ranch, Barber County

Turkey Creek, Barber County

Icy time at North Branch Elm Creek, Barber County

A small, un-named rivulet showing flow recovery
following the eradication of eastern
red cedar trees from the Anderson Creek
Wildfire from March, 2016

Earlier recognized natural wonders of the Red Hills:
St. Jacob's Well, Caves, Wildflowers, Grasslands, Wildlife, and Fossils. Stay tuned for the eighth and final natural wonder soon!