If you enjoy nature, birdwatching and wildlife, there’s a park on the west side of town that you might not know about but definitely want to visit.

Pracht Wetlands Park in northwest Wichita is a rare find in an urban area.   The park, with its natural pond and surrounding wetlands, lies just east of Maize Road and 29th St. North. 

Until 2015, the land was owned by the Pracht family who used the lake — formerly called Cadillac Lake — for duck hunting and farming. They sold the land to the Slawson Companies who  developed part of the land as the Cadillac Lake Mall, a retail center anchored by a Hobby Lobby store, and donated the rest to the city for  use as a public park and wildlife area.

The first two phases of the $1.7 million park opened to visitors in 2019. The park has an elevated walkway and a duck blind where visitors can observe wildlife and take photos without disturbing the inhabitants of the marshes. 

The park won the 2019 Kansas Recreation and Park Association  Innovative Program Award as well as awards from the American Planning Association and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

An Abundance of Wildlife

The park attracts thousands of migratory birds, including herons and egrets. Cranes, pheasant, ducks, turkey, deer, badgers, beavers, and various amphibians can all be seen there as well.

Phase 3 of the park’s development is expected to get under way next year. The city will spend about $1.5 million to extend the elevated walkway and add another duck blind. Work on 

The city has completed the qualified bidder process which approved three contractors for the chance to bid on the project. 

The timetable for completion of the final two phases of the project has not been set.

P.J. Griekspoor is a semi-retired veteran journalist with 55 years experience in writing and editing in Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina and Wichita.  She spent 18 years at the Wichita Eagle...