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Wednesday, December 7 2005

Wildlife at Risk…From the Budget?

As Congress reconvenes in Washington, D.C. after a Thanksgiving holiday break, one of the first things on the schedule is the deliberation of a massive budget bill that could spell disaster for wildlife and public lands across the U.S.

Both House and Senate passed different versions of a budget last month. Now they must figure out a way to combine the two and put that final bill to one last up-or-down vote.

What is so bad?

* More than 300 million acres of public lands-your public lands-could be sold to developers at bargain-basement prices if a series of mining provisions make it into the final bill, possibly becoming one of the biggest taxpayer rip-offs in a very long time.

* Both budgets cut important Farm Bill conservation programs, which are popular incentives for farmers that encourage them to use wildlife-friendly practices on their lands. More than half of all land in our country is dedicated to agriculture, making the management of farmland very important for wildlife.

* A provision in the Senate budget would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, sacrificing one of America’s most wild places for a small bit of oil.

Call or email your senators and your representative.

Urge them to oppose any final budget bill that includes these harmful provisions.

Learn more about the bad things in the two budgets.

Thank you in advance for speaking up on this issue!

The National Wildlife Federation Team


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+ Don S @ 03:09pm

Wednesday, September 14 2005

Your Kansas pheasant outlook

ESPN Outdoors has this story on this year’s pheasant season outlook.

Things look quite good for Kansas, which is expected to have the third-largest pheasant harvest in the nation this year.

+ Dan @ 03:35pm

Can you have a walleye tournament in September?

Brent Frazee asks this $109,000 question in this story picked up by the San Jose Mercury News.

Milford Lake will host this year’s Professional Walleye Trail Mercury Marine Championship September 16-18. Congratulations to Geary County for landing this tournament and showing off Kansas!

However, some people are anticipating a rough go:

“I can tell this is going to be a tough tournament,” said Good, 50, who lives in Brainerd, Minn. “The locals all say this is the worst time of the year for walleye fishing.

“Part of it has to do with there being so much food in the water right now - all the young-of-the-year fish. And then, this is a transition time. The fish are moving from the deeper water to shallower water.

That sounds difficult. Still, there’s a reason why these guys are professionals: they catch fish when people like me can’t. Besides, it can’t possibly be as bad as the infamous Pittsburgh Bass Tournmanent.

+ Dan @ 03:08pm

Wednesday, September 7 2005

Hurricane Katrina and wetlands

The Kansas Wildlife Federation encourages all Americans to step forward and help our fellow citizens put their lives back together after Hurricane Katrina.

Going forward, we need to realize we have ways to lessen the impact storms like these have, through better management of our coastal wetland areas.

Wetlands have immense value, not just to fish and wildlife, but to human civilization. The services these areas perform for us include groundwater recharge here in Kansas, flood control, water filtration, as well as recreation. For hurricanes in particular, wetlands act as “speed bumps”, subtracting energy from the storm.

One of America’s largest wetlands complexes is in Louisiana, and that has been shrinking for years, largely due to silt being channeled out to the Gulf of Mexico by flood control projects.

MSNBC has this terrific story on the interaction between wetland loss and hurricane severity. Likewise, CNN has this story on the work ahead of us to restore Louisiana’s wetlands.

Our sister organization, the National Wildlife Federation, has much more on their work to restore this great marsh.

+ Dan @ 02:37pm

Tuesday, July 19 2005

Bird dog breeders threatened by Senator Santorum

If you don’t visit the US Sportsmen’s Alliance webpage, take a second now to go over and add it to your favorites. The USSA is a consortium of sportsmen’s organizations that keep an eye on the national scene for trends and legislative threats that could keep sportsmen out of the outdoors.

And proving once again that it’s not just Democrats who threaten outdoorsmen, the USSA is urging you to contact your national Senator, and urge him or her to reject SB 1139, a bill floated by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania. ) In typical federal fashion, SB 1139 takes a perceived problem and solves it by attacking people who have nothing to do with the problem in the first place. (Gun owners should be familiar with this drill by now.)

If you breed or buy bird dogs, you need to know about this bill. Take a look, and if you need to get the number for Sam Brownback or Pat Roberts, give us a call at 785-232-3238.

+ Dan @ 01:55pm

Tuesday, July 12 2005

Public lands: keeping wildlife habitat intact

One of the slogans in Kansas is “private land in private hands.” There’s a proud tradition of independence and good stewardship reflected in that sentiment.

As suburban sprawl changes the landscape, it also has changes that affect everyone who lives in the area. Water quality is harder to maintain, and wildlife habitat fragments, or disappears entirely.

One good example is the land owned by KWF member William Pracht. As detailed in this Wichita Eagle article on his privately-owned wetland area, Mr. Pracht is trying a wide variety of strategies to keep his land from becoming 80 acres of houses.

In many states, this could be accomplished by giving the the deed for the property to a non-profit, and then the non-profit would deed it over the state’s wildlife agency to be managed as a public wildlife area.

+ Dan @ 12:53pm

Wednesday, July 6 2005

The bird mashers in Altamont

Wind power advocates like to reassure people that great strides have been made in protecting birds from getting killed in wind turbine complexes.

Maybe, but as this article from the Associated Press goes, that may not quite be the case.

Here’s the killer quote:

An estimated 1,700 to 4,700 birds are killed each year in the 50-square-mile Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, and of those fatalities, between 880 and 1,300 are federally protected raptors such as burrowing owls, red-tailed hawks and golden eagles, according to a study released last year by the California Energy Commission.

“Altamont is killing more birds of prey than any other wind farm in North America,” said Jeff Miller, a wildlife advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Incredible numbers of raptors are being killed there, and it’s hard to believe it’s not having effects on the populations.”

Kansas, being in the center of the country, has a great deal of migratory birds to think about, including ducks and geese, as well as raptors.

While KWF doesn’t have anything against wind power in and of itself, the lack of siting guidelines is a failure to be good stewards to our world.

+ Dan @ 04:05pm

Tuesday, June 28 2005

Pheasant and quail seasons changed

Despite objections from Kansas landowners, the Kansas Wildlife & Parks Commission voted last week to substantially change pheasant and quail seasons in the state.

The landowner objections stem from a fear that there will still be a lot of crops in the field in the first week of November. That puts the farmers in the position of either refusing permission to hunt (and possibly losing income, if they charge for that) or losing crops to human trampling.

What’s disturbing to us about this change is two things. One is that the Department is making these changes especially to be “competitive in the marketplace.” But it’s not seasons that make us competitive, it’s quality. Also, it’s not the Department’s job to be a tourism agency, it’s their job to manage and steward the resource. Of course you can make the argument that without good funding, they can’t do that, but managing explicitly for the out of state hunter is a very troubling development for the Kansas agency in charge of our outdoor resources.

The other troubling idea is this quote:

“What we’ve learned over the years is that we get almost all negative responses (to a change).” said (John) Dykes, commission chairman. “We try to weigh all the factors and do the right thing.”

While anyone can appreciate that only hearing negative commentary is tiresome, there is an implication here that changes can be made at any point despite public input, since the public input will always be negative.

+ Dan @ 12:01pm

Thursday, June 23 2005

The alphabet soup of conservation

One of the most daunting things about the various government conservation programs is the bewildering variety of acronyms and initials. After the fourth or fifth different abbreviation, it becomes hard to keep things straight.

A terrific example comes out of the Hillsboro Free Press, which carries this article about conservation programs. By the time you’re done reading the short article, you’ve encountered 10 acronyms and abbreviations, as well as four different government agencies.

It’s a lot to get through, but the results can be terrific, and it’s not necessarily a lot of paperwork. The story here details that some of the programs have a one page application form, which certainly beats any mortgage application.

Although the article is written for Marion County, the same kinds of program and advice to call your local conservation service apply. If you’d like help navigating this maze, call the Kansas Wildlife Federation at 785-232-3238. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll know who will.

+ Dan @ 03:36pm

Tuesday, June 21 2005

Wichita Eagle Fishing Clinic now set for August 6

In case you wondered, the Eagle’s annual Fishing Clinic, rained out on its initial June 11 date, has been rescheduled for August 6. This program is put on by the Eagle, the KDWP, and the Great Plains Nature Center, and entry into Chisholm Creek Park. People who had registered previously are not guaranteed re-registration, so you’ll need to call in and reserve your spot again.

+ Dan @ 11:38am

Wednesday, June 15 2005

Wildlife & Parks Commission Meeting in Hays on June 23

If you’re an upland bird hunter, you may want to make sure to attend the upcoming meeting of the Kansas Wildlife & Parks Commission in Hays on June 23. Directions, time, and a pdf file of the agenda are available at the Department of Wildlife & Parks website.

On the agenda will be significant changes to upland bird hunting regulations and traditions; proposals that have been tossed around include shortening quail season, making a statewide quail opener, shortening prairie chicken season, and moving the pheasant season opening a week earlier.

The discussions around these changes have mostly been from the perspective of the management level - how Kansas fares in comparison to Nebraska and South Dakota, what the impact will be on bird populations, etc. What hasn’t been well represented, and what needs to be included in the discussion, is a lot more “war stories” from hunters in the field. What impact would it have on you to move pheasant season up a week? What impact would you see from curtailing quail season by a week or more? These are the kinds of questions where your input is needed.

If you can’t make the Commission meeting, KWF will be happy to communicate your views to the Commissioners. Email us at info@kswildlife.org, and we’ll send along your viewpoints.

+ Dan @ 12:50pm

Thursday, May 26 2005

Milford’s popularity endangering its fishery?

The Clay Center Dispatch carries this story on how Milford Reservoir’s popularity is becoming a mixed blessing.

As you know if you’ve been reading this website, Milford is one of the state’s top fisheries, and has gathered national attention, being a stop for top tournaments, including crappie, walleye, bass, and catfish.

But those tournments have drawn so much attention that the amount of visitors has almost doubled in less than two years. Area residents are asking the Department of Wildlife and Parks to spend more money on stocking programs.

+ Dan @ 06:21pm

Tuesday, May 17 2005

The Governor backs down on the Circle K

The purchase of the Circle K Ranch seems to be off the table, for the foreseeable future at least.

The newly-signed state budget includes a provision prohibiting the Department of Wildlife & Parks from buying the Circle K Ranch.

I’m afraid this decision may have to go into the “only in Kansas” file: you have a willing seller, a public starved for outdoor recreation opportunities, and a water crisis as aquifers are beginning to run dry. This purchase would have helped address all three of those problems, for an incredibly reasonable price.

But the Legislature rejects the proposal because it might take farm ground out of production.

Now, what’s the biggest issue in farming? Low prices for crops. What do low prices signify? Over-supply. And over-supply means excess production capacity. So how does keeping farm ground in production help farmers again?

+ Dan @ 06:01pm

Friday, May 13 2005

The poaching bill is now official…

Very quietly, Governor Sebelius has signed HB 2253 into law. That’s the bill that increases criminal penalties for repeat convictions of Kansas wildlife statutes. We’re a long way from being as tough as Wyoming or Colorado, but this is a big step forward from the merry-go-round of diversions and $100 fines.

Jeff Glines of the Pittsburg Morning-Sun has this write-up of the story which includes a little of the background about the partnership of organizations that helped make this bill happen. (If you get asked for a username, use “kswildlife” as the username and “Topeka1″ as the password.)

+ Dan @ 05:15pm

Wednesday, May 11 2005

A sign of future water conflicts

The Lincoln Journal-Star carries this article on a plan to further mine the Ogallala Aquifer as a way of filling local lakes.

Much like pensions funds get raided because they look like ready cash with no immediate demands, so-called “fossil water” is being targeted as water demands in the west exceed the amount of water available.

However, there are two very large drawbacks to tapping the Ogallala:

1) Other people want to tap it too, and thus the fights over water rights will be more intense than ever, and

2) Aquifer water recharges wetlands and is part of our surface stream flow.

It seems odd that we keep coming back to this point, but it doesn’t seem to be understood yet: groundwater depletion depletes streams and rivers.

+ Dan @ 02:40pm

Thursday, May 5 2005

EPA modifies Kansas water quality standards

Kansas, if you don’t know, has some of the lowest water quality in the nation in our streams and rivers. The official standard for most of the streams and rivers in the state is “Class C, non-recreational contact,” and the government’s goal, the standard we are striving towards, is that you should have a 12% chance of getting sick when you come into contact with the water.

Those regulations were put together by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, with extensive consultation from the Kansas Farm Bureau the general public.

This week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency released the news that is has mostly approved the Kansas water quality standards, with one important exception. Certain creeks and streams are not exempted from water quality standards during “high flow” events. That’s a critical modification, given that these high flow events are washing down cattle waste that has piled up in watersheds.

+ Dan @ 05:15pm

Monday, May 2 2005

You have 4 weeks left…

You have until May 30 to enjoy your spring turkey season in Kansas, which gives you an even four weeks as of today. Of course if this cold snap doesn’t end, it’s going to feel like fall turkey season….

And to make sure you enjoy it, here’s an article from Great Plains Game & Fish on successful hunting in the gusty Kansas conditions.

There’s a good story in there about trying to hunt in gale-force winds, and then there’s this quote:

Sound emitted by and responded to by both birds and hunters often figures into the success or failure of spring turkey hunts. “So when the wind kicks up, it’s time to change tactics a bit,” said Eric Johnson, a diehard turkey hunter who has experienced more than his share of foul-weather hunts. “Soft-sounding mouth calls and slate calls are traded for the loud, resonating tone of a good box call that cuts the wind and carries a considerable distance.”

+ Dan @ 04:53pm

Monday, April 18 2005

Pre-emption bill passes

The Wichita Eagle has this article on a new law pre-empting local laws on firearms transport in Kansas. The practical upshot is that it will be legal in Kansas, no matter where you are, to have your firearm in your car if it’s encased and unloaded.

It’s important to point out that this isn’t a requirement that firearms be encased - if your city or county currently does not require casing, then you are still not required to carry your firearm cased. What the bill does do is make a uniform standard across the state that should give hunters a lot of peace of mind.

This is one of the bills that the Kansas Wildlife Federation worked on during the session, and we’re quite pleased to see the Governor has signed it.

+ Dan @ 03:04pm

Friday, April 15 2005

KDWP gets out of the paper chase

The Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks is joining the 21st century, as it is getting out of the business of issuing paper hunting and fishing licenses.

I’ve heard several gripes about this, both from sportsmen and license vendors. However, there’s an important upside here, that isn’t getting mentioned in the Tribune article. By moving to a paperless system, the KDWP can have much better information for its law enforcement team. Now instead of having to research a box full of paper in Pratt, the Department can know instantly if out-of-state violators who aren’t eligible to hunt in Kansas are making the attempt to buy a license here.

+ Dan @ 02:46pm

Monday, April 11 2005

Kansan one of the 2005 National Wetlands Awards winners

Congratulations are in order for Barth Crouch, who is one of the winners of the 2005 National Wetlands Awards.

If you’ve been to a Pheasants Forever or a Quail Unlimited function in the state, you’ve probably met Barth, who has done an enormous amount of work for our state’s upland bird populations as PF’s regional biologist.

But Barth has also been a tremendous source of energy and knowledge for our state’s wetlands, particularly its playa lakes. He’s one of the founders behind the Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams, and he’s also on the Board of the Playa Lakes Joint Venture. Barth also helped craft the new extension of the CRP to include playa wetlands.

Congratulations to Barth Crouch!

+ Dan @ 04:42pm

Friday, April 8 2005

Stewardship for Grouse Creek

From the Ark City News comes this important story that the Grouse-Silver Creek Watershed district is changing its focus.

The news is important for a few different reasons. One is that Grouse Creek is a “reference stream” - a benchmark by which the water quality of other streams in the state and the country ar measured. The District’s recognition of this, and commitment to protecting the stream, is an important development for the future. Few steams in Kansas have been left so intact.

Another is that this will be another nail in the coffin for the idea of a dam on Grouse Creek. The idea has been circulated for a while of the creation of a resort lake in Cowley County by damming this irreplacable resource, and now the watershed district is almost inevitably in the anti-dam camp.

Lastly, the concepts of watershed management in Kansas have been synonymous with ideas such as building dams, culverting, channelizing, etc., etc. Those activities can hurt as much as they help, often making flooding worse while beating up the quality and the quantity of the water.

+ Dan @ 04:19pm

Wednesday, April 6 2005

Another state gets ready to tackle mercury emissions…

If the Feds won’t tackle mercury emissions, it’s up to the states to get it done. Minnesota legislators have joined the ranks of those who have recognized this, with the bi-partisan introduction of a bill to require a 90% reduction in mercury emissions from coal-fired power-plants in the state.

Why 90%? Because that’s the realistically available level of control given the technology on the market today. By contrast, the EPA’s new rules only require a 50% reduction over a fifteen-year period. The EPA’s plan puts 4 times as much mercury in the air from power plants as we would if the best available controls were required.

+ Dan @ 12:14pm

Monday, April 4 2005

Legislative wrap-up

Michael Pearce has this legislative wrap-up in the Wichita Eagle.

One good thing to note is that the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact has passed and will be signed by the Governor.

Also the bill that would sabotage land acquistion in the state looks like it’s going nowhere. Special thanks go to the emailers who’ve been hitting this one - When I chatted with Senator David Weysong about this bill, he said “every email I’ve gotten on this one tells me to vote against it.”

Look for an update later this week on what we can do to save the poaching bill.

+ Dan @ 03:59pm

Wednesday, March 30 2005

Poaching bill is in trouble….

Leave it to the Kansas Legislature to endanger a bill that passed both chambers unanimously.

HB 2253 is the bill that would escalate penalties for repeat violators of wildlife crimes. It passed the House 122-0 and the Senate 39-0.

The Senate added a number of amendments, all of the good ones that make the bill more functional. Since the versions differed, the House requested a conference committee.

At today’s conference committee, the House side informed the Senate that the House wanted to add HB 2115, the bowhunter unit revocation, to 2253.

2115 never made it out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, so the Senators on the Conference Committee feel pretty blind-sided and bitter about having this bill held over their heads. The idea seems to be to get a controversial measure passed by adding it to a popular one.

The worst part about this is that 2115 probably won’t matter anyway, as the KDWP will have a completely new deer management plan in the next 12 months.

If no one can compromise on this, we may lose the whole bill for something that wouldn’t matter in another 365 days.

Here’s what’s needed right now - the leaders of the Conference Committee need to hear from you right now. Tell them you don’t want to lose a bill that the state needs for a bill that will be obsolete within a year. Urge them to come an agreement that will benefit all of the state. Their contact info is as follows:

Senator Carolyn McGinn
Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee

Representative Don Myers
Chair of the House Wildlife, Tourism & Parks Committee
785 296-7695

As always, please be respectful and courteous when dealing with legislators. They want to do the right thing. This is your chance to tell them what that is.

+ Dan @ 05:03pm

Show us the data….

You might have seen the movie “Jerry Maguire” where the sports agent brings negotiations to a halt by shouting “Show me the money!”

If you changed that to “Show us the data!” that would be our reaction to a new proposal by the Department of Wildlife & Parks to expand the hunting seasons for prairie-chicken and quail.

Maybe there is some scientific support to justify a longer hunting season. If that’s true, the KDWP should be trumpeting itself in biological and land-management publications across the world, as prairie-chicken and quail populations have been in decline across their ranges in North AMerica.

This idea of extending the seasons on these birds has come up before. Dr. Robert Robel, a wildlife biologist with decades of experience in Kansas, helped kill that proposal by putting forward evidence to the Wildlife & Parks Commission that some of the quail hunting in Kansas is producing “additive mortality.”

This isn’t to say that Dr. Robel is anti-hunting - he’s also a life member of KWF and a life-long hunter himself. But to the best of our knowledge, we certainly don’t have room to talk about expanding quail and prairie-chicken seasons. If the birds really are on the rebound, what’s responsible to the resource is to talk about how we can keep that rolling, instead of expanding a hunting season too soon.

+ Dan @ 03:58pm

Tuesday, March 22 2005

Landowner goes to bat for prairie-chickens

A lobbyist for the Sierra Club recently derided the opposition to commercial wind power, saying “Prairie-chickens have declined by 80%. Why are people speaking up for them now?”

Leaving the logic of the statement aside - apparently if a species goes into decline, it’s okay to press the accelerator - it’s also not true that the decline of one of the emblems of Kansas has gone unnoticed or uncared for.

As one example, take this Wichita Eagle article about Cowley County rancher Bob Massey.

Bob has been working to maintain prairie-chicken populations - and has shared his love of the outdoors with visitors - for decades.

Prairie-chickens are in decline for a number of reasons, but people like Bob Massey have been doing their best for years to stem the tide.

+ Dan @ 01:42pm

Where the park bill goes from here

KWF supports SB 87, which would replace park entrance fees with a $4 car registration fee. This would give Kansans more affordable entry into the outdoors, fix our state parks, and do so very affordably.

Predictably there is opposition to the bill, mostly from legislators and lobbyists who don’t like the Department of Wildlife & Parks, such as the Kansas Farm Bureau. It doesn’t look like we’ll get much play on the bill this year, as opponents have asked the Attorney General’s office for a review of the bill’s consitutionality.

The Pratt Tribune has this excellent article summarizing what the bill would do and where it is right now.

+ Dan @ 01:04pm

Thursday, March 17 2005

URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Please call your State Senator on HB 2226

Thanks to the efforts of two Representatives with an antipathy to
the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, the House has on General Orders HB 2226, which is one of the more serious threats to the public and to wildlife to come out of this legislative session.

When a bill is placed on General Orders, only a straight up or down vote is allowed, and a bill placed on General Orders almost always passes. We anticipate the bill will go to the Senate.

HB 2226 is designed to keep the state of Kansas from buying any land for wildlife areas or state parks. Any acquisition of property of 480 acres or more would have to be subjected to approval from the full legislature - not just the monetary allocation, but the act of accepting the land itself.

This means that a willing seller could not sell his land to the state without gathering full legislative approval, and it also means that someone could not donate land or leave land to the state without legislative approval. As always, the Representatives who talk the most about property rights are the ones most willing to legislate against them.

As people lose their hunting grounds, public wildlife areas are going to become increasingly important - both as places for public access and as dedicated wildlife habitat. If this bill passes, it will be a major setback for the ability of the average Kansan to enjoy the outdoors.

You can see the full text of HB 2226 at the Kansas Legislature website. Note that you’ll need Acrobat Reader to see the text.

The most urgent need at this point is for communication from you to your state Senator, asking them to work against the passage of HB 2226.

As always, if you need information about how to contact your Senator or additional talking points, please don’t hesitate to contact the KWF office at 785-232-3238.

+ Dan @ 07:12pm

Wednesday, March 9 2005

Are hunters criminals?

Depends on the day and what you’re doing, but many of our state’s hunters could be risking arrest every time they put a gun in the car.

There is no simple way to know that you’re carrying your firearm inside a car legally in Kansas. Because every locality is free to set its own rules on firearms transportation, what’s perfectly legal in Miami County could get you arrested in Kansas City.

This has real consequences - the legal costs for dealing with such an arrest can easily exceed $2,500, including attorney fees and court costs. What’s just as bad: your conviction is listed in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database as a “weapons violation”.

KWF is working with the National Rifle Association, Representative Candy Ruff, and other organizations on behalf of HB 2439, which would keep cities and counties from passing stricter vehicle transportation requirements than the state. That way, the state’s 290,000+ hunters can get in the car and have peace of mind that they’re doing the right thing in the right way.

If you want to help get 2439 passed, call Representative John Edmonds, the Chair of the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs. His number is 785 296-7681, or you can email him at edmonds@house.state.ks.us. Let him know you’d like to see 2439 get out of committee.

+ Dan @ 01:44pm

Grassland Reserve Program application deadline is near

If you have at least 40 contiguous acres of grasslands, and would like to get some help preserving it, it just might be worth your time to make an application to the USDA’s Grasslands Reserve Program. Kansas has a Fiscal Year 2005 allocation of $2.5 million for ranchers who want to participate in GRP. You’ll need to get moving - the FY 2005 application deadline is April 1, 2005.

A capsule description of GRP from the Natural Resources Conservation Service:

In its third year of existence, GRP is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance grasslands on their property through easements (permanent or 30-year) and rental agreements (10-year, 15-year, 20-year, or 30-year). In Kansas, approximately $1.8 million will be set aside for easements, which includes $250,000 that Congress designated for counties in the Flint Hills. Approximately $750,000 will be set aside for rental agreements. Priority will be given to easements and 20-year and 30-year rental agreements. The program emphasizes the preservation of native and natural grasslands and shrublands, support for grazing operations, plant and animal biodiversity, and the protection of grassland that is under multiple threats of conversion.

Grazing, haying, mowing, and harvesting for seed production are all allowable uses under the GRP program. For more information about the program, call 785-823-4571, or go to the Kansas website of the NRCS.

+ Dan @ 01:24pm

Tuesday, March 1 2005

Mercury exposure lowers IQ, costs US economy billions

Fox News carries this report from the Mount Sinai Center for Children’s Health and the Environment. The report details how each year, hundreds of thousands of babies are born with lower IQs as a result of mercury exposure while in the womb.

The Kansas Wildlife Federation is part of a national coalition of organizations that is pushing the Bush administration to work for more aggressive reduction of mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants. The administration has essentially proposed a 30% reduction, but much higher reductions are possible given current technology. Because of mercury’s effect on unborn children, KWF is particularly making an effort to involve faith-based organizations that haven’t necessarily worked on environmental issues before. So far that’s included the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the Charismatic Episcopal Church, and Texas Democrats for Life.

The issue is a particular concern for Kansas, as we see more fish consumption warnings go up across the state. While Kansas is only 32nd in population, we are 19th in mercury emissions. Yet the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s web page manages not to mention emissions, instead treating it as a household hazard.

To find out how you can become involved in protecting children from mercury exposure, call us here at 785-232-3238, or email to info@kswildlife.org.

+ Dan @ 03:09pm

Monday, February 28 2005

Poaching bill passes House, 122-0

HB 2253, which would set in place progressively increasing minimum penalties for repeat violators of our state’s wildlife laws, has gotten out of the Kansas House of Representatives by a vote of 122-0.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it doesn’t yet have a committee assignment in the Senate. More than one bill has passed the House by a huge margin and then has died in the Senate - and vice versa.

To make sure we don’t lose momentum, call your state Senator today and ask for his or her help in moving HB 2253 through the Senate. For more information, call us here at 785-232-3238, or email info@kswildlife.org.

+ Dan @ 01:20pm

Monday, February 21 2005

Lobby Day is tomorrow

Our Lobby Day for the Kansas outdoors is tomorrow - and has gotten a nice write-up from Brent Frazee at the Kansas City Star.

A few things for tomorrow:

1) Don’t worry about coming for a long period of time. The important thing is to come by and talk to your legislators. We’ll have some hand-outs and talking points prepared for you, but feel free to come with your own viewpoints and ideas.

2) The Capitol is a lot of fun to visit. Make sure to take a look at the House and Senate chambers from the galleries, but also make sure to look for the famous Kansas murals along the second floor.

3) If you’re coming from a ways away, it’s worth it today to call your legislator and get an appointment. Generally you’ll get a ten minute slot.

4) If you don’t know who your legislator is, go to University of Kansas’ map of elected officials. Click the boxes for KS House districts and KS Senate districts, and then go to the top and select your city.

Or you can call us at 785-232-3238 and we’ll do all the work for you over the phone with you in about a minute.

+ Dan @ 01:06pm

Friday, February 18 2005

Two items of note from Michael Pearce

Michael Pearce, whose outdoor column for the Wichita Eagle should be one of your regular stops on the web, has two items in his most recent column.

The first is that the KDWP’s FISH Atlas is just about ready, and if you do any angling in the state, you should call and get one. Details are inside the story, but the upshot is that this is a public access program for anglers, similar in nature to the successful Walk-In Hunting Areas program.

The second is that the Senate passed the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact, and this is good news. Contact your state representative and ask that the compact get a vote in the House soon.

+ Dan @ 01:29pm

Wednesday, February 16 2005

Poaching bill is out of committee

Today, the House Wildlife, Tourism & Parks Committee unanimously passed our anti-poaching bill out of committee with a recommendation to the House for passage. The bill, HB 2253, is a measure that would stiffen penalties for repeat violators of Kansas wildlife laws.

That’s good news, but it’s just the start. Our bill is “below the line,” which means that it will only get heard if the House gets passed a certain number of other bills ahead in the traffic.

To generate some enthusiasm for this bill, please call your state Representative and let him or her know you want to see HB 2253 come up for a vote. If you don’t know who your state Representative is, call us at 785-232-3238, and we’ll be able to tell you in less than a minute.

Another way to get some steam behind the bill is to come out to the Capitol building on Tuesday, February 22. That’s when we’ll be having the Sportsmen’s Lobby Day. Anyone who’s gone hunting or fishing in Kansas is encouraged to come to Topeka, where we’ll be on the second floor rotunda. Your perspective of the management decisions made by state government officials is important. This is your opportunity to speak up for the outdoors.

Coffee and doughnuts will be provided, and this is an easy and fun way to get involved in our state’s future. Come for an hour, or come for the whole day - what’s important is that there’s a voice for the outdoors.

The Sportsman’s Lobby Day is a joint effort between the Kansas Wildlife Federation, Audubon of Kansas, the Kansas Bowhunters Association, the Kansas chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Kansas State Rifle Association, and the Kansas Outfitters Association.

For more information, call us at the Topeka office at 785-232-3238, or send an email to info@kswildlife.org.

+ Dan @ 08:47pm

Friday, February 4 2005

Conservation groups have our own poaching bill

While the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks has their own anti-poaching bill, Kansas sportsmen are also pushing a complementary effort.

This is a team of conservation organizations put together by KWF which includes our state’s wildlife officers, Audubon of Kansas, Kansas Bowhunters Association, Kansas National Wild Turkey Federation, Kansas Outfitters Association, and the Kansas State Rifle Association.

After considerable discussion among ourselves, we put together a bill which would do the following:

  • 1) Reform how diversions are used for wildlife crimes, so that violators would get out of a revolving door of continual violation.
  • 2) Institute minimum penalties for repeat violators, so that penalties increase as the number of convictions increase.
  • 3) Equalize minimum fines for in-state and out-of-state residents on many violations, so that resident violators don’t get a hands-off treatment.
  • To track our bill, or to see its wording, head over to the Kansas Legislature’s bill tracking page. To find out how you can support the bill, call the Topeka office at 785-232-3238 or email us at info@kswildlife.org.

    + Dan @ 12:09pm

    Thursday, February 3 2005

    Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact is in the Senate

    Today, the Kansas Wildlife Federation presented testimony in favor of the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact. This is a bill that would make it possible for Kansas to deny hunting licenses to out of state hunters who are violators in their own states. It also would make it easier for Kansas to enforce hunting laws for non-residents, because essentially, a violation in one state becomes a violation in all of the member states to the compact.

    This is a good bill that will help our state’s conservation officers do their jobs more efficiently and protect our state’s resources.

    Click here to read the text of the bill. Please note that this is a large Acrobat Reader document.

    To read the testimony of KWF in favor of this bill, click on “more”. To find out how you can help this bill go forward, call the KWF office at 785-232-3238 or email to info@kswildlife.org


    + Dan @ 05:41pm

    Tuesday, January 25 2005

    Some important dates to keep in mind

    Here are some upcoming events that will be of interest to the sportsmen and women of Kansas:

  • On Saturday, February 12, KWF will be holding its Annual Meeting and its Conservation Awards Program at the Holidome in Manhattan. The Annual Meeting is open to all current KWF members, and this is where we’ll decide many of our organization’s stands on the issues we’ll face over the next 12 months. This is your organization too, so if you haven’t come to one of our annual meetings before, please come share your ideas.
  • That night, we’ll be having the Conservation Awards Program, which recognizes real life Kansas heroes who have been making a difference in the state. Come share in our celebration of people who are making Kansas an even better place to live.

  • On Tuesday, February 22, we’ll be having the Sportsmen’s Lobby Day. Anyone who’s gone hunting or fishing in Kansas is encouraged to come to Topeka, where we’ll be on the second floor rotunda. Your perspective of the management decisions made by state government officials is important. This is your opportunity to speak up for the outdoors.
  • The Sportsman’s Lobby Day is a joint effort between the Kansas Wildlife Federation, Audubon of Kansas, the Kansas Bowhunters Association, the Kansas chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Kansas State Rifle Association, and the Kansas Outfitters Association.

    For more information, call us at the Topeka office at 785-232-3238, or send an email to info@kswildlife.org.

    + Dan @ 08:18pm

    Wednesday, January 12 2005

    Pheasants at the end of the season

    As we come up to the end of pheasant season, the weather’s getting worse and the birds that are left have become very wary.

    What to do? Great Plains Game & Fish has some ideas with an article titled “Ringnecks With Ph.D.s.”

    It’s long but read the whole thing; the article is full of unexpected tips that could make a real difference for you.

    + Dan @ 11:19am

    Another state record

    The Wichita Eagle brings us the news that a Leavenworth man may have taken the new state record buck for archery.

    Ron Ewert’s buck has been scored by Pope & Young at 266 2/8 inches.

    Wonder what they’re putting up in the water over by the Missouri border? In the past year we also had the state record paddlefish taken from over that way.

    + Dan @ 11:12am

    Thursday, January 6 2005

    Bad news for wind turbines

    I’ve been in any number of hearings and meetings where I’ve seen people from the wind power industry say that the impact of commercial wind turbines on wildlife is insignificant.

    Two news articles in the past week beg to differ.

    From the Wichita Eagle we have this article: “Wind turbines decimate bats.” A study of wind turbines in West Virginia found thousands of bat dying as a result of the wind installations there. Why is that important?

    Bats serve an important role in nature, and their populations are thought to be in decline, scientists said. The bats getting killed in Appalachia devour insects that pose grave threats to crops such as corn and cotton. They also feast on pests that can spread disease, such as mosquitoes.

    Then yesterday’s USA Today carried this story: “Wind turbines taking toll on birds of prey”. The story tries to localize the raptor kills to the Altamont Pass, but in reality, most wind installations located in a migratory pathway are going to generate bird kills.

    There are places for wind turbines and places where they must not be. Kansas needs really siting requirements in place.

    + Dan @ 05:42pm

    Tuesday, December 28 2004

    How tax breaks prop up wind energy

    A good story from today’s Lawrence Journal-World on how federal tax breaks are fueling the wind energy boom.

    It’s pretty routine for wind-energy developers to insist that their product is profitable even without the federal incentives. That doesn’t quite explain why there’s a mad rush to get these projects online before December 31, 2005, at which point the federal credits end.

    Here’s the money quote:

    (State official Lee) Allison said the federal income tax credit was critical to wind companies, which cannot compete against traditional energy producers without it.

    One might wonder why we should be funding businesses that can’t compete, but that’s a question for another day.

    + Dan @ 12:09pm

    Thursday, December 23 2004

    More on sandhill cranes

    The agenda for the January 20th meeting of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission is now up on the Department’s website. (Note that this is an Acrobat file.)

    On the agenda is a discussion of sandhill crane hunting season. If you value that hunting opportunity, please consider showing up to the Commission meeting, or sending in written comments in advance of the hearing if you can’t be there in person.

    As this article from the Kansas City Star relates, there will be a move to eliminate the sandhill crane season.

    KWF believes that good science belongs in the driver’s seat as we make wildlife decisions. Does the science suggest we can build up whooping cranes by eliminating sandhill crane season? Judge for yourself:

    People have been allowed to hunt sandhill cranes in Kansas since 1993. According to the state wildlife and parks department, 4,284 people have hunted 15,269 days, bagging 10,908 sandhill cranes in those 11 hunting seasons.

    So in 15,000 tries, there’s been one bad incident. There’s no reason to say that the incident wasn’t a bad thing - and the shooters in question are in the federal process now - but there’s nothing in those numbers that suggests that Kansas is keeping whooping cranes back.

    + Dan @ 10:24am

    Wednesday, November 24 2004

    LJ World slants wind power news

    I don’t mind media bias, really, I just don’t like media outlets that pretend to be objective while pursuing an agenda, or outlets that misrepresent the actual facts.

    A great case in point is the Lawrence Journal World’s recent story, “Plan would limit wind energy farms.” The misrepresentations start in the very first paragraph, as the story leads off with:

    Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday put a prime area of potential wind energy off-limits to near-term development, citing a need to protect the scenic Flint Hills.

    Compare that with the lead from the Wichita Eagle’s story, “State hopes to link wind farm regulation”:

    About a third of the Flint Hills should remain free of wind turbines until further guidelines for their development emerge at the both the state and local levels, a state panel has recommended.

    There’s a lot more to the LJ World story, and a lot more to what’s actually going on. To read it, click here for more. (more…)

    + Dan @ 09:54am

    Thursday, November 18 2004

    Peak days for deer-car collisions

    One of the issues that always comes up during a discussion of deer hunting laws is the subject of deer-car collisions. These incidents in Kansas seem to peak about November 17 of each year, so this is the prime time for caution and high-beams.

    This story from the Lawrence Journal-World has good information, not only on how to avoid the collisions, but why this is such a hot issue in the state. Looking at the table that accompanies the story, the rate of deer-car accidents doubled in just ten years.

    Kansas roads are safer than some states and more dangerous than others. Drivers in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Missouri contend with larger deer populations than we do, and have more drivers on the roads, yet have fewer accidents.

    Of particular note is this piece of advice:

    Don’t swerve to avoid a collision with a deer. The most serious accidents occur when motorists are taking evasive action.

    Remembering that in the actual moment, of course, is something else entirely.

    + Dan @ 01:03pm

    Friday, November 12 2004

    Confessions in Whooping Crane shootings

    The US Fish & Wildlife Service has announced that it has received confessions from the shooters of two whooping cranes.

    The shooters in question were a party of seven people from southwest Kansas, who apparently believed they were shooting at sandhill cranes.

    As excuses go, that’s particularly thin. A quote from the LJ World story sums that up:

    Jim Kellenberger, a hunting education instructor and retired game warden, said the conditions weren’t an excuse for shooting the birds.

    “We teach all the kids in hunter education that you have to identify the target before you pull the trigger,” Kellenberger said. “If you can’t ID something, you just don’t shoot.”

    It should be noted that the sandhilll crane season in Kansas has been in place since 1992, and this is the first shooting of whooping cranes in that 12 years.

    The Kansas Wildlife Federation is putting together a reward fund for the landowners in this case who turned in the responsible party. If you wish to contribute to the fund, you can mail a check to the KWF office, or give by credit card by calling us here at (785) 232-3238.

    + Dan @ 09:11am

    Wednesday, November 3 2004

    Felony poaching conviction

    It seems a little ungrateful to be anything other than enthusiastic about a felony conviction for poaching in Kansas, yet it’s hard to get too excited about the expected sentencing for Steven Pittman.

    Pittman was found with parts from 60 different deer, but is being sentenced for possessing six. For a felony conviction, Pittman will serve 90 days in a work-release setting, and will be find $6,000. Frankly, for someone who’s killed 60 deer and sold their antler racks, that’s walking around money. Additionally, work-release programs are for people who pose a minimum risk to the community, and it’s hard to see how Pittman fits that description.

    + Dan @ 09:37am

    Wednesday, October 27 2004

    Riley County wind power regs

    They’re not perfect, but they’re much better than nothing: the Riley County Commission will probably put new wind power regulations into effect at their meeting Thursday night.

    There’s a lot that could have been done better or different in these regulations, and it’s too bad that some people within the county government kept asking the wind energy developers to write their own regulations.

    That said, these regulations recognize wind energy as being industrial development. Additionally, they require enough work on the part of the wind power developer that there are a number of avenues for preservationists to challenge any proposal.

    To take a look at the regulatory package, you can download this pdf file. (You’ll need Acrobat Reader installed.) It’s unfortunate that these regulations don’t make reference to the Governor’s task force and its mapping project of intact prairie, but as noted previously, communication between the Governor and county governments on this issue hasn’t been obvious.

    + Dan @ 06:04pm

    Thursday, October 21 2004

    The Governor’s Stance on Wind Energy in the Flint Hills

    For months now, the Tallgrass Ranchers, Audubon of Kansas, Protect the Flint Hills and the Kansas Wildlife Federation have been looking for a clear, strong, public and unequivocal stance from Governor Sebelius on the issue of commercial wind energy in America’s last tallgrass prairie.

    Today’s Wichita Eagle carries this opinion piece from Lee Allison, the chair of the Kansas Energy Council. The piece is, in essence, a position statement on where the Governor intends to go on wind energy systems.

    Frankly, I’d have to give it a “B”, maybe a “B-”. It’s nice to have some official recognition that commercial wind complexes are not appropriate in every place they could be built. Additionally, there’s some great stuff here, including this quote:

    The controversy over wind energy in the tallgrass prairie is the Kansas equivalent of the fight over oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    All you need to do is go to one of the local zoning meetings to know the truth of that sentence. But at those same county zoning meetings, we don’t see representatives of the Governor’s office. When I told the Riley County Planning Commission that the Governor’s office was working on a mapping project that could be included in their work, they were surprised.

    If you want the Governor to make a stronger statement, or - even better - if you want to thank her for making this statement, call her office at 1-800-748-4408.

    + Dan @ 02:31pm

    Monday, October 4 2004

    The future of the Flint Hills

    As you probably already know, the future of the Flint Hills is right now. Even as this is being written, there are meetings at all levels of government all over Kansas that will decide what happens to America’s last tallgrass prairie.

    This article from the Wichita Eagle does an excellent job of summing up most of the issues and many of the players involved.

    The best part of the article is that opponents to commercial wind power aren’t painted as unreasonable, Not In My Back Yard fanatics, which has been the case with press coverage far too often. Too often, the media has treated wind power primarily as an issue of artistic taste, and it’s hard for people outside the Flint Hills to get too worked up on that issue alone.

    But what’s unfortunately missing from this article - and just about every news article from the mainstream media on the Flint Hills - are the words “America’s last tallgrass prairie,” or even the words “prairie-chicken.” The view of the Kansas Wildlife Federation is that if the discussion on the Flint Hills isn’t starting from the area’s absolute uniqueness, then it’s missing one of the most crucial components.

    The closest the article gets to that point is here:

    The Flint Hills, he said, belong on the list of geographic attractions that offer a truly unique look and feel - much like the Badlands, the Hill Country of east Texas, even the Grand Canyon.

    “Those are areas that become defined by their nature, by the indigenous culture and history of the place,” Allegrucci said. “The Flint Hills have that.”

    Sadly, if you go look at much of the Hill County these days, all you’ll see is 20-acre homesites. The drive from San Antonio to Johnson City on 281 used to be one the best drives in Texas. Now it’s an endless low-density suburb. Maybe we can avoid a similar fate in the Flint Hills, but we have to take action now.

    If you’d like to get involved in preserving America’s last tallgrass prairie, there are a lot of actions you can take right now to do so. Call us here at the KWF office at (785) 232-3238, or send us an email, and we’ll find a way for you to get involved that fits the time and energy you have available.

    + Dan @ 11:47am

    Thursday, September 23 2004

    + Dan @ 10:10am

    Letter to Editor on Proposed Coal Fired Power Plants

    KWF, along with the Conservation Federation of Missouri, are keeping tabs on a proposed complex of four coal-fired power plants north of Kansas City. The original plans have called for two plants on the Kansas side and two plants on the Missouri side.

    This letter to the editor neatly spells out the many problems associated with the proposal. Kansas is already 18th in the country in mercury emissions, although we’re 32nd in population.

    KWF board member Matt Nowak has been helping to organize opposition to the proposal, and has done some tremendous work. More on this as it makes it way through the planning process.

    + Dan @ 10:07am

    Thursday, September 9 2004

    Act Now to Go Bowhunting in Leavenworth

    Suburban areas create unbeatable deer habitat - lots of food, plenty of water, lots of places to hide, and almost no predators or hunting pressure.

    That’s about to change in Leavenworth, which is kicking off a new bowhunting program in the city, starting October 1st.

    There’s always a catch, and the catch here is that you have to attend one of two special orientation sessions. One is being held on September 11th, and one is being held on September 18th. Those interested in the program should call John Goodman at (913) 682-9201. I just got off the phone with John, and the city has a list of landowners he can provide you with, once you get into the orientation.

    Property owners are still needed, and if you have a parcel of three acres or more in Leavenworth and want to provide some hunting access, give John a call at the number above.

    For more information on the program, you can also visit the City of Leavenworth website.

    + Dan @ 09:49am

    Monday, August 30 2004

    Grouse Creek Dam May Be Dead

    To follow up on an earlier posting, the Grouse Creek Dam project may finally be dead.

    After hearing extensive testimony from project opponents, and after receiving a 62-page paper detailing all the reasons why the dam is a bad idea, the Kansas Water Authority voted 11-1 to not fund a feasibility study. That study would have been the first step in involving the state government in the construction of the facility. Without the state’s resources involved, there’s very little chance of the project moving forward.

    However, the developers who’ve been pitching this idea swear that this is not the end, and that they’re not giving up. We’ll have to see what the future holds.

    + Dan @ 10:04am

    Monday, August 23 2004

    Grouse Creek Dam Won’t Die

    After a brief infatuation, most of the Kansas state government has backed away from the idea of a dam in Cowley County. The idea, if you haven’t heard about it, is to dam up one of the last free-flowing year-round streams in Kansas and turn it into a resort lake - 8,000 acres of water and 150 miles of lakeside houses. Underneath the water would be the remains of tallgrass prairie and a few hundred oil wells.

    During the past Legislature, KWF supported a bill to preclude the use of eminent domain for the dam’s construction - one of the few times that KWF, the Sierra Club, the Kansas Farm Bureau, and the Kansas Livestock Association were all on the same side of an issue.

    In today’s Wichita Eagle, we see the idea is not dead yet, as the Wichita Chamber of Commerce is after the state to produce retirement destinations. Others see an “economic benefit.”

    It’s unclear why voters and taxpayers in Topeka, Garden City, Atchison, etc., should be expected to pick up the tab for a lake that they’ll never be able to use. If all of the surrounding lakeside property would be forcibly removed from the present owners and then sold for private homes, then it’s hard to see how there’s a great benefit for the rest of us.

    KWF supports the acquisition of land for wildlife habitat from willing sellers at fair market price. Eminent domain to create a private resort is exactly opposed to our values, as is damming up one of the last free-running streams in our state.

    If you would like to have some input on this, why not call the Governor’s office, at 1-877-579-6757. Ask her to take a clear and public stand against this project, so we can move on to other water issues in the state.

    + Dan @ 11:01am

    Tuesday, August 10 2004

    Douglas Fishing Lake Has Mercury

    A recent sampling of fish taken out of Douglas State Fishing Lake reveals mercury levels that are unsafe for children and pregnant women.

    Turns out that Kansas is one of the top 20 mercury-emitting states in the US, even though we have one of the smaller populations. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says that it “may” develop a posting system for lakes where there are contaminated fish.

    Clinton and Perry lakes still have fish with mercury levels below concern, though for how much longer is certainly an open question.

    The issue has particular significance right now, as EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt will be deciding whether mercury emissions will be more strictly regulated for every coal-fired power plant. Our sister organization, the National Wildlife Federation, is taking that issue on. Find out more and give Mr. Leavitt your input by clicking here.

    + Dan @ 09:07am

    Monday, August 2 2004

    Zebra Mussels Now in Oklahoma

    The news on zebra mussels continues to be bad, as everyone’s least favorite invasive species has moved 60 miles downstream from Kansas into Oklahoma’s Kaw Reservoir. As you probably know, zebra mussels displace native wildlife, disrupt the food chain, and can play havoc with mechanical systems.

    Here are two quotes from the article that I found staggering:

    This one, in reference to El Dorado:

    Larval mussels, called veligers, were recently found in every water sample taken at the 17,000-acre lake.

    This one refers to the speed with which an infestation can take place:

    Tests done six weeks ago showed no signs of zebra mussels [in the Kaw Reservoir]. Tests done within the last two weeks showed them lakewide.

    So what can be done? Boater education is one important part of the job. If you have speakers on your computer, we highly recommend the KDWP streaming video about zebra mussels.

    This video shouldn’t require special software to view, and has some great information about how to treat your boat to prevent from spreading the invaders. It also has some great pictures of just how small these things are - you can see how they get into small pipes and foul up the works.

    + Dan @ 05:20pm

    Thursday, July 29 2004

    West Nile Virus

    The Abilene Reflector-Chronice has this story on controlling West Nile Virus.

    Bottom line is that spraying probably won’t help very much, either in terms of actually controlling the bugs or halting the disease. The most effective thing governments can do is to address storm drains and to keep after homeowners and landoweners to address potential mosquito breeding sites.

    The one bit of good news in the story is that children are no more susceptible to WNV than adults.

    + Dan @ 03:28pm

    Thursday, July 22 2004

    Beautiful letter about wind energy

    It’s important to keep re-iterating that the Kansas Wildlife Federation is not against commercial wind power - but we are for the Flint Hills - and all the rest of our state’s remaining grasslands. When you examine the question of wind energy from this angle, you start to see some serious flaws in the plan.

    So while we wouldn’t agree with everything in the letter quoted below, it’s an example of some important truths that often get overlooked in the discussion about commercial wind power.

    The Manhattan Mercury News doesn’t seem to link its Letters to the Editor page, so I’ll just quote this piece in its entirety. Click on “more” to read it: (more…)

    + Dan @ 10:37am

    Wednesday, July 14 2004

    Less Than a Week for WIHA Enrollment

    If you have 80 or more contiguous acres, and have thought about enrolling it with the KDWP’s Walk-In Hunting Area program, you have less than a week to get your application in. The deadline for enrollment is July 20th.

    A basic description is here at the Hutchinson Daily News - it’s the second entry down.

    Take a look, and if you think you’d like to apply for a WIHA lease, call your nearest Wildlife & Parks regional office - a directory can be found on this portion of the KDWP’s website.

    + Dan @ 09:55am

    Tuesday, July 13 2004

    More Developments with the Circle K

    The Dodge City Daily Globe has this story on the latest developments with the Circle K Ranch.

    As you might remember, the appraised value came in at about $3.2 million. The problem now is that the city leadership of Hays has ruled out selling at that price.

    So the newest wrinkle is a possible co-purchase between the KDWP and Big Bend Groundwater Management District.

    While the addition of 7,000 acres of wildlife habitat is a tremendous interest, the reason the Groundwater Management District might be involved is the retirement of 8,000 acre-feet of water rights.

    + Dan @ 03:29pm

    Monday, July 12 2004

    JW Wind Power Waiting

    In every county-level discussion of wind power siting regulations, the question eventually comes up: “Will the wind power companies sue?”

    For now, JW Wind Power won’t sue Wabaunsee County over its Commission’s ban. My own reading of the article suggests that JW will wait to see how their project goes in the neighboring counties, and then try again for Wabaunsee land.

    The Wabaunsee County vote to keep commercial wind energy out is important for two reasons: it demonstrates that contrary to the arguments of the wind proponents, that this is industrial development that warrants regulation, and that landowners in the Flint Hills are not joyfully lining up with contracts, eager to sign on.

    + Dan @ 12:00pm

    Tuesday, June 29 2004

    Quail and Prairie-Chicken Seasons Will Stay Put

    The Kansas City Star carried this short story covering last week’s Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting. The KC Star site requires registration, use “register@kswildlife.org” for the email and “topeka” as the password.

    There are some important details that the story doesn’t mention. One is that there were also proposed changes for prairie-chicken hunting, including a 138-day season for Greater Prairie Chickens, which certainly are not flourishing.

    Also not reported is that this was an effort on the part of a lot of groups: Quail Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Audubon of Kansas, and KWF all showed up and asked the Commission to refrain from the proposed changes. Dr. Robert Robel, of Kansas State University, deserves particular mention, as his authoritative testimony grounded the discussion in facts and may have turned the tide.

    + Dan @ 11:04am

    Circle K Ranch Appraisal In

    The news is in, and it’s surprising: the Circle K Ranch is worth about $3.2 million.

    During the Legislature, there were two objections from House legislators about the proposed Circle K purchase: one was that the Farm Bureau didn’t like it, and the other was that there was no appraisal, so the KDWP wasn’t being clear about how much money was actually on the line.

    The upshot is that for about $800,000, we can retire about 8,000 acre-feet of water rights and open up 12 square miles of quail, pheasant, and mule deer habitat. That’s because state government land purchases for wildlife and hunting areas are eligible for a 75% reimbursement from excise taxes, which you pay every time you buy ammunition or guns. Kansans are paying this tax, we might as well get some of that money back here in the state.

    So one objection down. What happens with the other one depends on whether or not the hunting community shows up in the next legislative session.

    + Dan @ 10:54am

    Thursday, June 17 2004

    A Moment of Decision for the Flint Hills

    The Wind and Prairie Task Force’s Final Report is now online. Note that the link goes directly to a 57-page pdf file - use caution if your version of Reader is slow or has some problems.

    The report has some helpful suggestions, but in a way, we’re all right back where we started, with the basic question - “Are we going to industrialize the Flint Hills?” - still up for grabs.

    The Task Force has put two options before the Governor. Option A encourages a moratorium and puts forward tax code changes that would direct commercial wind energy projects to ecologically low impact areas. Option B says we need to study the issue and ask wind power developers to exercise restraint.

    We put up Option A on this site sometime back. This is the path we’d like to the Governor to take.

    If you want to contact the Governor and encourage her to pick Option A, you need to call her and tell her so. Give a shout to the Governor’s office at 1-877-579-6757, and let her know you want her to take action to keep America’s last tallgrass prairie from becoming an industrial development.

    If you’d like to read our letter we sent to the Governor today to ask her to select Option A, click on “more.”

    + Dan @ 11:57am

    Wednesday, June 16 2004

    What’s Going on with the Flint Hills?

    Awhile back, we got word from Audubon of Kansas about a “Kansas Field Tour” of the Flint Hills. One full day was given to the topic of commercial wind energy development, with two speakers from wind power companies, and one rancher who’s been a wind power booster.

    Conspicuous by their absence was any presenter with doubts about commercial wind energy and the industrialization of the Flint Hills. Ron Klataske got in touch with one of the organizers and asked about this lack of balance, and he was told the conference wasn’t intended to be balanced.

    That’s a problem. KWF wrote the following letter to the Governor, just to ask what was happening and what the intent was. To date, we haven’t heard back, but in fairness, I was told the staffer who was assigned to respond to us had been ill lately. To read the letter, click on “more.”


    + Dan @ 08:54am

    Tuesday, June 1 2004

    The Wind Prairie Task Force Report: An Option to Protect the Flint Hills

    The Wind Prairie Task Force is taking its final report to the Governor on June 7th. As of this point, there are two options being presented, which basically boil down to “Protect the Flint Hills” or “Don’t protect the Flint Hills.”

    Not surprisingly, KWF is in favor of what’s known as “Option A”, which is a plan to protect the Flint Hills. You can see the whole thing below, by clicking on the word “more” below.

    If, after reading this, you think the Governor should protect the Flint Hills, there’s something you should do - namely, contact her. You can call the Governor’s office at 1-877-579-6757, and let her know you want her to take action to keep America’s last tallgrass prairie from becoming an industrial development.

    + Dan @ 02:37pm

    Wednesday, April 21 2004

    Another Dust Bowl?

    Kansas water management has always lived on borrowed time. After the terrible experience of the droughts in the 1930s and 1950s, the state spent the 1970s opening up new water rights.

    Well, if this researcher’s right, we may have to pay for that sooner rather than later. Julio Betancourt of the US Geological Survey says that temperature changes in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are consistent with conditions that create long-term “megadroughts. ”

    It’s certainly easy to get worked up over prophesies of doom and gloom - a lot of economists seem to make their living doing so. But if there’s any data that supports the correlation between these global changes and our local condition, we’d be wise to start thinking about our state’s water use, instead of ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away.

    + Dan @ 12:26pm

    Time for Input into Wind Energy

    The Hutchinson News carried this article awhile back on the Wind Prairie Task Force. Although it’s old, I’m re-posting it for two reasons:

    1) The article shows the bias of the way the task force is being run. The panel wasn’t set up to protect the Flint Hills, it was set up to find the most politically acceptable way to use the Flint Hills.

    2) The period of public comment mentioned in the article is now open, and will close on May 3. The easiest way to get your comment made part of the public record is to email the Task Force. That email address goes to Jerry Lonergan, who is one of the co-chairs of the Task Force.

    If you want to send in a hard copy of your comment, the address is:

    Jerry Lonergan
    ATTN: WPTF, Kansas, Inc.
    632 Van Buren, Suite 100
    Topeka, KS 66603

    Every single piece of public input counts on this. Please click the link and send an email right now. It doesn’t need to be anything long or persuasive - just a few lines stating your position is all that’s needed.

    + Dan @ 12:06pm

    Friday, April 16 2004

    Legislators Work to Kill a State Park

    The Kansans I talk to are often surprised to learn just how much hostility their legislators carry towards parklands and outdoor recreation. A perfect case in point: the sad tale of Menninger State Park.

    If you haven’t heard of this park, there’s a reason - it’s not in the state system yet.

    If there was ever, in the history of the state, something that should be a slam dunk, it would be this park. A closed-down hospital wants to give the state 80 acres of riverfront property, which would create the only state park in the state’s Capital City, and open up the only public access to the Kansas River inside the city limits of Topeka. So for absolutely no money down, you open up greenspace and get the public some outdoor recreation opportunities.

    Budget-cutters used the cost as an excuse to reject the park, saying the state wasn’t in position to take on the expense. The cost to run the park: $200,000 a year. The budget that was just passed? $10 billion. You be the judge on that.

    But before you get too mad at the Legislators for trying to kill off a park, ask this question: Where in the heck are the Topekans in this? Why hasn’t the Mayor been in the Capitol every week on this? Why aren’t Topeka voters burning up the phone lines of Speaker Doug Mays, Senator David Jackson, or Representatives Lana Gordon, or Vaughn Flora, or….? You get the idea.

    + Dan @ 12:59pm

    Friday, April 9 2004

    Well, it’s a start….

    Kansas Agriculture Secretary Adrian Polansky gave a talk on the future of rural areas here. The link goes to a short write-up in the LJ World.

    But even in this short write-up, you can see the gap between where we are now and where we need to go. Hunting and fishing is mentioned as a subset of “agri-tourism.” That’s exactly the approach that’s not going to pay off in the long run.

    For example, one of the reasons mentioned in changing the opening of quail season is the need to help the state’s “marketing plan.”

    No one’s going to deny a need for hunting and angling to play a role in the state’s economy. But it’s our responsibility as hunters and anglers to treat the resource and our natural heritage with respect. That means that we first have to manage for the health of the habitat and the wildlife.

    If wildlife management becomes shunted off into the corner marked “tourism” then we’ve started to treat the outdoors like a gold mine. And what do all gold mines have in common? Eventually they’re played out and they’re empty.

    + Dan @ 03:17pm

    Thursday, March 25 2004

    Sunshine is the Best Sterilizer

    It’s not strictly a wildlife issue, but it’s important to know: the leadership of the State Legislature is trying to relax rules on lobbyist disclosures.

    People are often surprised to hear my contention that government is far less corrupt these days than at any time in the past. But if we’re going to keep working towards the ideal of a government that actually reflects what the voters want, as opposed to special interest groups, it’s important to keep tabs on lobbyists - including me!

    A really good case in point: this article from the New York Times, showing that somehow, United States Senators pick stocks better than professional mutual fund managers. Huh.

    + Dan @ 09:34am

    Wind Power Moratorium Comes Close

    A floor amendment to create a one-year moratorium on commercial wind energy in the Flint Hills came close to passing, as the final Senate vote was 15-20 against.

    A little depressing for people who don’t want to see America’s last tallgrass prairie turned into a glorified industrial park, to be sure.

    But on the bright side: Back in December, no one expected this much legislative action to happen on wind power. Leadership in both houses have tried to make the issue go away a number of times, and Flint Hills advocates have kept coming back.

    The number one need right now is for education. Legislators see this issue as a “private property” or “county zoning” issue. But not one of them would let a landowner build a coal or nuclear power plant without a chance for the neighboring property owners to have some input.

    Wind power is a property rights issue - an isse of the adjoning land owners, who absolutely will see the use of eminent domain across their land as access roads and transmission lines are constructed.

    + Dan @ 09:22am

    Monday, March 22 2004

    Wishing Doesn’t Make It So

    Chances are that you learned sometime before you got out of high school that just because you would like for something to be true doesn’t mean that it will be.

    Unless you’re in the Kansas Legislature.

    The House Environment Committee is seriously considering a bill that would deal with the complicated issue of gravel mines and water evaporation by essentially saying “there is no such thing.”

    After listening to Wichita-area gravel miners, I don’t doubt there’s a bad process in the state government right now. But HB 2919, the bill they’ve put forward, would rewrite water law to say that there is no consumption of water from gravel pits. In other words, if you close your eyes, the monster will get bored and leave.

    This story from the Lawrence Journal-World will tell you more.

    + Dan @ 01:38pm

    Wednesday, March 17 2004

    Fear Mongering, Part 5,162

    One of the most objectionable tactics of The Old Guard in Kansas is that they never hesitate to pump in a bunch of fear and loathing into the debate over how we should manage our natural resources.

    This letter to the editor is a prime example. You can search all through this letter, but you won’t find any mention of the coming water crisis in Kansas, or of how the rural economy of Kansas has been slowly sinking out of sight. What you will find is an attempt to whip people into a frenzy over the prospect of “land grabbing bureaucrats.”

    America has enough real enemies. We don’t need to be inventing phony ones.

    + Dan @ 04:27pm

    Tuesday, March 16 2004

    Horse Theif Reservoir Gets Momentum

    The Dodge City Globe reports that a bill that would create the Horse Theif Reservoir in southwestern Kansas has moved out of committee.

    Just for the record - you don’t have to have a dam to create fishing opportunities or even to control floods. But given the lack of public fishing and hunting opportunities in this area of the state, a lake with 1,100 acres of publicly accessible land isn’t all bad.

    + Dan @ 10:16am

    Monday, March 15 2004

    What do Enron and Topeka Have in Common?

    The federal government isn’t known for having a sense of humor. If, for instance, Kansas gets federal money given for one deparment, and then spends it on another, no one shrugs and says “well, times are tough, so we’ll give you a pass.” In fact, the last time the state did this with KDWP money, it cost us $3.6 million.

    But being gluttons for punishment, we’re going to try it again. Governor Sebelius is “sweeping” money, which means she’s taking money that’s been dedicated to specific state agencies and putting it into the general fund.

    Here’s the killer quote from the story:

    The Wildlife and Parks Department may be in the most precarious situation. Federal and state laws prohibit use of hunting and fishing license revenue for purposes other than the wildlife fund, which pays for fish hatcheries to stock lakes and improvements to wildlife habitat.

    In the 1990s, the state had to repay $3.6 million to the federal government for spending money on parks that was collected from hunting and fishing licenses.

    As proposed in the budget, Wildlife and Parks would send more than $500,000 to the state general fund but get only $37,000 back in the form of pay raises for agency employees, said Dick Koerth, assistant secretary for administration.

    If you think this is a bad idea, call the Governor’s office today, at 1-877-579-6757. Let her know you want KDWP money to stay in the KDWP budget, and that flirting with the danger of federal penalties isn’t okay with you.

    + Dan @ 03:23pm

    Thursday, March 4 2004

    Wind and Prairie Task Force

    From the outside looking in, we at the Kansas Wildlife Federation are getting more and more concerned about the Governor’s Wind and Prairie Task Force. The basic mission seems like one of the government “happy talk” showcases - get people together and lock them in a room until there’s consensus. The problem is that where the last of the Tallgrass Prairie is concerned, there isn’t a lot of room. Either you think industrial development’s appropriate or you don’t. Looking at the agenda for the previous two meetings, it looks like the lion’s share of the meeting time is being given to wind power developers.

    Want to bet the final product calls for a “balance” between prairie preservation and wind power?

    + Dan @ 08:09pm

    Even in New York, They Know It

    The Grey Lady of American news, the New York Times, has weighed in with a pretty pointed editorial on just what’s at stake in the Missouri River management plan. If you haven’t kept up on this issue, this editorial gives you some of the facts, and neatly summarizes our opinions as well.

    + Dan @ 08:03pm

    Tuesday, March 2 2004

    No Respect, I Tell Ya

    Is there any group that gets less respect from the Legislature than hunters and anglers? Well, actually there is one - the professionals who manage and protect our resources. Representatives Clay Aurand and John Ballou showed the contempt they have for wildlife management and for good habitat practices at a recent legislative hearing. Remember - if the current crop of legislators had its way, there wouldn’t be any deer hunting in Kansas. If you want to let Representatives Aurand or Ballou know how you feel about what they said, why not dash off an email? (But please, keep it polite.) Representative Aurand’s email is aurand@house.state.ks.us, and Representative Ballou’s is john@johnballou.org.

    + Dan @ 05:26pm

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