Kansas Wildlife Federation

Sunday, October 16 2005

Farm bill conservation programs need your support

This article from Babe Winkelman’s syndicated column points to the need for sportsmen to make a ruckus now in order to save the farm bill conservation programs.

These programs, such as CRP, Wetlands Reserve Programs, and other important means of helping farmers and ranchers preserve habitat, are on the chopping block along with many other programs post-Katrina.

Part of the basic purpose of government is health and security. CRP, WRP, etc., don’t just benefit wildlife, they benefit humans by cleaning our water. If you want to step up for these programs, call Senator Sam Brownback at (202) 224-6521, and/or Senator Pat Roberts at (202) 224-4774. Ask them to send you in writing their stances on full funding in the 2007 Farm Bill for conservation programs.

+ Dan @ 02:37pm

Elden Baily passes

The Lawrence Journal-World has this sad story on the passing of Elden Baily, one of Kansas’s passionate outdoorsmen who was glad to share his success and the traditions of hunting and fishing in our state.

An example of the contributions Elden made is here:

Bailey was known for the techniques he developed to catch walleye and crappie, particularly during Kansas winters. A Web site is dedicated to Bailey Magnet Lures, which he invented to catch crappie and small-mouth bass.

No mention is made in the story of where to send condolences or memorial gifts, so in lieu of those, make it a point to share your love of the outdoors with someone today. Kansas Big Brothers/Big Sisters has their
Pass It On program,
and they can always use hearing from you.

+ Dan @ 02:25pm

Wednesday, September 14 2005

Senate: Keep the mercury pumping

In the category of “Disappointing but not surprising” is this news from the United States Senate: on a vote of 51-47, the body voted to keep in place the EPA’s rules on mercury emisssions from power plants.

The rules set in place by the EPA are dangerously unaggressive, and over a 15 year period, will put hundreds of tons of mercury in our waters - four times as much as we would have to using the best available technology.

The battleground now really shifts to the state legislatures, which have the authority to require the technology Congress won’t.

+ Dan @ 03:19pm

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

Thursday, September 1 2005

Remembering Harold Ensley

It’s appropriate for us to mark the passing of Harold Ensley, The Sportsman’s Friend.

Mr. Ensley was a pioneer of outdoor broadcasting, one of the inventors of the medium. The business of companies like the Outdoor Life Network owe a great deal to Mr. Ensley.

But even more than that, Mr. Ensley passionately loved the outdoors and wanted to share that with us. It’s people like him who have made hunting and fishing beloved traditions in Kansas, and we have a lot to celebrate in this state because of his efforts and the efforts of those he inspired.

+ Dan @ 02:54pm

Thursday, August 25 2005

Record tuna also sets mercury record

For all of the excuses and finger pointing that goes on with mercury, a few things are clear: one is that mercury levels are increasing in local waters, and another is that human sources of mercury get the blame.

While the effect is unknown for deep-sea fish, fish from coastal waters are certainly accumulating mercury in great quantities. As one example, the Delaware News Journal carries this article on a record-breaking tuna, which came in on the scale at 873 pounds. (And imagine that fight!)

Perhaps not surprisingly, the fish also carried a new level of mercury contamination. The quote from the article:

The mercury also was nearly twice the highest level of mercury ever found by the FDA in fresh or frozen tuna steaks….

As always, pregnant women and small children should probably minimize fish consumption, especially for critters high on the food chain, such as tuna and swordfish.

+ Dan @ 02:56pm

Tuesday, July 26 2005

2005 Outdoor Skills Camp!

If you’re between 12-18 years old - or if you know a budding outdoorsmen who is - then take this opportunity to get involved with KWF’s Outdoor Skills Camp for 2005.

Outdoor Skills Camp is a program to develop young people into being better hunters, anglers, and furharvesters. OSC features small groups and expert instruction. Since every attendee must be accompanied by an adult, it makes for an ideal weekend for father and sons - or fathers and daughters.

Classes will be held in wildlife habitat management, furharvesting, wingshooting, fishing, wild turkey hunting, and more. The intensive nature of the classes guarantees that youngsters will come away with a deepened passion and expertise.

Outdoor Skills Camp will be held at Rock Springs 4-H Camp, which is south of Junction City, and the camp is on October 1-2.

For more information, or to enroll, call Charlie Lee at (785) 532-5734.

+ Dan @ 07:42pm

Friday, July 15 2005

Summertime: Out on the water

With the July heat, it’s a great time to get out to the great lakes in Kansas. A couple of stories to keep in mind:

We’ve said it before, and we’ll probably say it again, but Milford Lake is one of the country’s best fisheries and recreational areas. This story by Michael Pearce in the Wichita Eagle talks about how these are the good old days for Milford.

If you’re taking kids out on the water, keep in mind that Kansas law now requires children under 12 to have a life jacket on while boating. Of course, you shouldn’t neet a law to tell you that. Getting killed on the water isn’t hard, and this story from the Pratt Tribune goes into detail as to how easy it’s been for people to get killed while trying to retrieve rubber rafts. 703 people died in boating mishaps last year, and 85% weren’t wearing life jackets.

+ Dan @ 09:10pm

Thursday, July 7 2005

Rural land: Buy it if you can while you can

Not too many people are in a position to become landowners of recreational ground, which is one of the reasons KWF believes so strongly in the state’s being able to buy land for public wildlife management.

However, if you are thinking about buying some ground to hunt on, the old rule of real estate is still true: the time to buy is now. That’s particularly true of farm ground, as this article from the Financial Times shows: rural property values are climbing fast.

What’s driving this explosion? A combination of factors, but urban sprawl pushes up value, as does the need for recreational property, as does a recent wave of good crop prices.

Land doesn’t usually get cheaper after gets more expensive, so if you have your eye on something, now may be the time.

And if you can’t buy something of your own, there’s one thing you must do: call your state legislator, and ask that he or she back the purchase of wildlife management areas. If you don’t know who your legislators are, call us at the KWF office, and we’ll fill you in.

+ Dan @ 12:27pm

Tuesday, June 28 2005

Pond management brochure

As so often happens on the Internet, I was looking for something completely different when I stumbled upon this brochure from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

The brochure, entitled “Producing Fish & Wildlife in Kansas Ponds” is a terrific resource for landowners who want to have a great quality fishery on their properties. The publication has tips on good selection, how to plant, and how to avoid some common mistakes made in pond maintenance.

+ Dan @ 11:39am

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

Tuesday, June 14 2005

Water, water everywhere….

… at least in parts of Kansas, where we’re at triple the normal rainfall for the month.

In south-east Kansas, Fall River State Park is shut down due to flooding. Cross Timbers State Park is also mostly under water, with the lake being 27 feet above normal. That’s more than a gallon or two.

Continuing with the theme of water, those no-good tree-huggers over at Forbes Magazine carry this article on the effects of fertilizers and manures, which may have effects on freshwater lakes for hundreds of years to come. Predictably, the Farm Bureau’s reaction is “this is not our fault.”

For some good news, there are lots more Kansas lakes open to the average angler, with the state’s new community lake leasing program.

One concern that we have about this program is that it may harm some of the state’s fisheries by exposing them to much more fishing pressure. That bears watching. But on the whole, the benefit to anglers across the state is clear - especially with high gas prices, as many of these smaller community lakes can be worked on foot.

+ Dan @ 12:22pm

Tuesday, June 7 2005

Streamside fishing in Kansas!

With gas back at $2 a gallon and with no relief in sight, boat fishing may have to take a back seat for some folks. If you’re like me and never learned to fish with a boat, it wouldn’t matter, except that Kansas is not really known for its streamside fishing.

But perhaps that’s changing, as the past week brought a mini-Renaissance of streamside fishing stories for the Sunflower State:

The Kansas City Star carries this story about Emporia fishing guide Bill Hartman who has started a fly-fishing guiding service called, appropriately enough, Fly Fish Kansas. Bill offers full day trips at $200 and half-day trips at $115, all-inclusive. Take a look at the story; you just may want to give him a call. If you get asked for email and password to view the story, use “register@kswildlife.org” and “Topeka1″ for the password.

Michael Pearce in the Wichita Eagle has two great stories on the same topic in his Sunday Outdoors page. The first one tells of his experiences landing 70 fish in one day’s worth of fly-fishing in Thurman Creek.

The other entry details 30 miles of public access to streambank fishing in Kansas. The list only includes clear water streams; if you’re willing to put on the stink bait and get into the murky water, there’s miles more of river available to you.

Lastly, the Lawrence Journal-World carries this story on a new fly-fishing business in town. So why drive to Cabela’s, which doesn’t have the passion for fly fishing, when you can go this store?

If you’re looking for fly-fishing stores, don’t forget the good folks at Chapman Creek Fly & Tackle, just off I-70 west of Junction City. If you’re planning to fish anywhere in the Milford area, those folks will hook you up with the equipment and the latest knowledge about what’s happening. They’re also good supporters of conservation and youth education.

+ Dan @ 02:14pm

Tuesday, May 31 2005

A round-up of conservation links

No urgent news is jumping out at us from the world of conservation, so here are a few outdoor stories from the Great Plains and beyond that have caught the eye over the past few days:

The Kansas City Star carries this story on Kansas scenic byways. Three Kansas roadways, including the Flint Hills Scenic Byway, the Post Rock Scenic Byway, and the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway, have been nominated for National Scenic Byway designation, which can help fund the development of communities and attractions along those roads.

You know it’s a big fish when it takes two hours of fight to get it to the boat. Andrew Miller had to call friends on his cellphone for help in getting the state’s new record grass carp out of the water. The fish weighed in at 67 pounds.

Zebra mussels seem to have disappeared from Cheney Reservoir. This is very good news for a variety of reasons, but the invaders, which can kill off game fish and screw up water lines, are still present in El Dorado. Boaters have to be very responsible in all of Kansas waters, making sure to empty out live wells and bait wells before leaving the reservoir. Other tips on keeping zebra mussels from spreading are at the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks website.

And finally, speaking of boating on Kansas waters, two Wichita anglers won this weekend’s tournament in the Grand National Walleye Cup series at Wilson Lake on Sunday. Doug Duncan and Tim Brockman brought in a six-walleye limit weight of ten and a half pounds, for which they received $1,000. Not a bad day at the lake.

+ Dan @ 03:05pm

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 24 2005

It’s walleye time!

Ned Kedhe at the Topeka Capitol-Journal tells us that from now until early July is the best time for walleye fishing in Kansas.

As usual, Ned’s column is a veritable manual for fishing. Ned knows his business and can teach you as much in one column as many writers will do in a whole feature story.

If you’re up for the challenge, you can also get into one of the walleye tournaments in the state. Visit the website of the Kansas Walleye Association for more details on those.

+ Dan @ 02:06pm

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

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

Friday, April 29 2005

USA Today covers the Missouri River

USA Today carries this story on the woes of the Missouri River.

While the article is a pretty good introduction of why this is an important story, it unfortunately minimizes the role that the Army Corps of Engineers has played in this debacle. The Corps’ insistence on managing and maintaining the Missouri as a barge highway - despite the warnings of river scientists employed by the Corps itself - has made the situation much worse than it needs to be.

That’s the reason that the Kansas Wildlife Federation has joined in a lawsuit brought by the National Wildlife Federation and other colleagues against the ACE’s management regime. For more information on that, you can visit NWF’s page on the topic. While you’re there, sign up for NWF action alerts.

+ Dan @ 11:23am

Thursday, April 21 2005

Outdoor Kansas Kids Day on May 7

The Dodge Globe carries this article on this year’s Outdoor Kansas Kids Day,” which is at Meade State Park. This is just one in a series of events put on by Kansas Wildscapes Foundation (the other KWF), the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, and the Kansas Parks & Recreation Association, along with Bass Pro Shops and Capitol Federal.

This year’s program includes bird houses, archery, and fishing. To find out about an OK Kids Day in your neck of the woods, visit the Wildscape website. To find out about Meade State Park, take advantage of the new Department of Wildlife & Parks website and see their entry.

+ Dan @ 01:23pm

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

White bass fishing tips!

Ned Kedhe always has something to say about fishing in Kansas, and here’s a timely column of his in the Topeka Capitol Journal on white bass fishing.

Bottom line: this is the month to get out and do it, because we’re hitting the prime spawning time. Just as encouraging, however, is that a long-term decline in the Kansas white bass fishery may be turning around.

According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, white bass are found in most of the state’s larger reservoirs. So good luck!

+ Dan @ 04:20pm

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

Thursday, March 24 2005

EPA ignored its own science in drafting mercury rules

MSNBC carries this Washington Post story detailing how the EPA ignored its own data when drafting its mercury emissions rules.

The EPA’s new rules put in place a market-approach, in which mercury emissions are capped and emission permits for mercury are traded. In a meeting with Wildlife Federation affiliates, EPA leadership insisted that this was a more cost-effective strategy than simply clamping down on mercury emissions entirely, and that part of the reason was that there were more costly and serious threats from coal-fired plants than just mercury.

That insistence seems contradicted by this quote from the story:

What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion.

That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule. Acknowledging the Harvard study would have forced the agency to consider more stringent controls, said environmentalists and the study’s author.

This is nothing new. At both the state and federal level, good science is routinely beaten out by economic or political considerations. That’s why groups like Kansas Wildlife Federation are such a necessity - there must be an independent, non-governmental watchdog for our natural resources.

+ Dan @ 01:37pm

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

Tuesday, March 15 2005

It’s getting to be walleye time

As the weather turns to Spring (and not a moment too soon!) Michael Pearce over at the Wichita Eagle has two good articles in the Sunday paper on walleye fishing.

One is on the quality walleye fishing that’s close to Wichita. There are certainly some good fisheries mentioned in the article, but if you’re not in the south-central area, you may also want to think about Milford.

The other is a great article on the start of walleye fishing weather and includes some good tips on where to cast and what kinds of water conditions to watch for.

You might still need a parka this week, but it won’t be ice-fishing!

+ Dan @ 04:53pm

Friday, March 11 2005

More on mercury

The EPA will announce new rules next week governing mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The good news is that mercury emissions from coal burning will finally come under some kind of regulation. That can’t happen quickly enough, as evidence continues to mount up that the toxic metal presents a major new threat. This story from the Boston Globe, for example, details how mercury is being found in songbirds and other forest-dwelling species. Previously, mercury was thought to only be a threat to fish and birds (and people) that ate the fish.

The bad news is that the new controls are less than what the law might actually require. The Clean Air Act would have required the best available controls, which currently filter about 90% of the mercury coming out of a powerplant. Under the new rules, the EPA will require a 70% reduction by 2018. Call me impatient, but I don’t see why we should have to wait 13 years.

What does this mean practically? Let’s say for the sake of argument that a power plant is currently emitting 100 pounds of mercury per year. Under the Clean Air Act as it’s been written and interpreted, that would drop to 10 pounds per year. Under the new rules, that same power plant might put 1,000 pounds more of mercury into the air by 2018. The worst part is that this is easily avoidable given current technology.

The Washington Post has more on the story. If you get a registration screen, use “register@kswildlife.org” as your email and “topeka” as your password.

+ Dan @ 12:37pm

Friday, March 4 2005

Mercury round-up

A lot of breaking news on mercury today that deserves the attention of anyone who eats fish or cares about wildlife or unborn children. (I think that’s everyone.)

The Albuquerque Tribune carries this outstanding editorial calling for state action. New Mexico’s older coal-fired power plants are a signifcant source of mercury emissions and other pollution in the United States. Current New Mexico law prohibits the state from having stricter standards than the federal Clean Air Act; given that the Administration’s under-ambitious plans for mercury emissions, this editorial is calling on the state Legislature to step up.

In North Carolina, the state’s Attorney General is taking action against the EPA for allowing coal plants in other states to pollute North Carolina’s waterways. North Carolina also has stricter standards for mercury emissions than the federal government.

In Washington, the state legislature is looking at a bill that would tackle mercury from obsolete automobiles. In essence, the bill would require auto recyclers to take mercury out of cars before compacting them. Dismantled cars will be a mercury emissions source for at least another 10 years, though certainly not on the scale of coal-fired power plants.

The New Jersey legislature is also looking at a similar bill. New Jersey may be reacting to recent news that there’s a lot more mercury in the state’s fish than the US EPA anticipated.

Finally one of the objections from the power generation industry to new regulations on emissions is that scrubbing technology is too expensive. ADA-ES, an environmental technology company, announced yesterday that its new product reduces mercury emissions by 90%, even on Wyoming coal, which has been particularly problematic for scrubbing technology. This is good news for Kansas, which burns a good deal of Wyoming coal.

+ Dan @ 01:09pm

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

Wednesday, February 9 2005

Defending hunting

One of the great things about the Kansas hunting scene is that there’s no real “anti” movement here; we don’t have to worry about PETA or the Humane Society coming into the Legislature and blowing our traditions out.

But as James Swan points out in this column on ESPN Outdoors, that’s not enough all by itself. Just as one example, the Humane Society is on a national campaign to stop archery hunting, and with $95 million to spend, they’ve got the resources to have an impact in more than one state. And I don’t think anyone believes for a second they’ll stop with getting rid of bowhunters.

Nationwide, about 6 percent of the population goes hunting, and yet that small minority funds a great deal of our nation’s habitat and restoration. We need to be a lot better at explaining to the rest of the country about the benefits we bring to America’s outdoors.

Mr. Swan gives some great examples of worthwhile projects that will help us communicate to non-sportsmen about the positive impact we have on the American outdoors. While you’re looking at supporting those, you might also take a moment and check to see if your KWF membership is up to date.

+ Dan @ 02:55pm

Tuesday, February 8 2005

Wetlands and property

One of the issues that comes up when dealing with wetlands is the question of landowner rights. Environmental laws that protect wetlands are often labeled as being intrusions into the rights of the property holder.

On the other hand, laws that protect downstream property rights for surface waters are established and more or less unquestioned. No one really argues that landowners should have the right to build dams where ever they want with no regulation, or that surface water diversion rights should be unregulated.

Laws that protect wetlands perform the exact same function - they protect the quantity and quality of water available for the downstream user.

Here’s one excellent example of the value that wetlands provide: the erosion of coastal wetlands in Louisiana. As it turns out, this isn’t just a crisis for the state’s wildlife and for the Gulf of Mexico - it also turns out that the loss of coastal barrier wetlands is endangering the state’s oil and gas industry. Flood control is one of the more important economic functions of wetlands areas.

To the Pacific Legal Foundation, that’s not a good enough reason to have a law. The PLF is going to attempt to get a Supreme Court ruling to get a Michigan man off the hook for his chronic violations of the Clean Water Act. This is the Foundation’s second attempt; the Court refused to intervene last year. Hopefully, they’ll do so again this year, as their SWANCC decision has already created enough problems as it is.

+ Dan @ 04:13pm

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

    (more…)

    + Dan @ 05:41pm

    Friday, January 7 2005

    Fishing and family

    When we’re talking about state-wide policy, it’s easy to talk only about the big things, like the dollars spent by anglers, or the amount of water in the aquifers, or the number of acres in CRP.

    But at the end of the day, what we’re really talking about is the experiences that people have when they go outdoors, and the way that those experiences build traditions and draw families and friends together.

    Brent Frazee has a great example in this Kansas City Star columnabout a father-son team who have been fishing together for more than 40 years. They liked it enough to turn it into the family business. If you’re going to the Kansas City Sportshow, you just might see them.

    + Dan @ 09:56am

    Wednesday, December 8 2004

    NWF, KWF, and the EPA

    The title of this post is quite an alphabet soup, but it is accurate.

    This past week, representatives from National Wildlife Federation affiliates met in Washington DC with senior leadership from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Kansas Wildlife Federation was one of the more than 20 state groups that sent a representative.

    While it’s hard to have an open dialogue with so many people in one room, the meeting did show that there is truly nation-wide interest on the part of hunters and anglers in regards to the issues of mercury emissions and wetlands.

    What we communicated as a group is a level of frustration with the White House’s initiatives in these two areas, mostly because we view the policies as self-contradictory. While it’s great that the President wants to add 3 million acres of wetlands in America, it’s hard to do this when the EPA is still telling the Corps that “isolated wetlands” enjoy no protection.

    If you’re a waterfowler, you know how important seasonal wetlands such as prairie potholes are to the success of duck and goose migration and nesting. A policy to add wetland acreage is laudable, and very possible, but only if we close up a loophole that currently places about 20 million acres at risk.

    Our other agenda item was on mercury. The White House has floated a plan that would cut mercury emissions by 30% over 5 years and 70% over 15 years.

    The problem is that it’s possible to do much better. It’s realistic and cost-effective to cut mercury emissions by 90% by 2010. While we can discuss the right mechanism to cut those emissions, the nation is not served when the goals laid out are so modest.

    Mercury is a special issue for Kansans: we’re 32nd in population in the country - and 18th in mercury emissions.

    + Dan @ 06:07pm

    Tuesday, November 16 2004

    The impact of pheasant season

    The Wichita Eagle carries this story about the impact of pheasant season on local economies. When 100,000 people show up at the doorstep, there are going to be some opportunities.

    A lot of people out enjoying the outdoors, people making their livelihoods from hunting - all of that can be terrific. The challenge that we have as a state and as sportsmen is to make sure that the dollar signs don’t cloud our eyes.

    If we treat wildlife as a goldmine, and try to pump the maximum value out in the shortest time, we’re going to play that goldmine out, and we’ll lose our state’s natural heritage. Pheasants, quail, and prairie-chickens have all been consistently declining over the past 30 years, and one good season won’t reverse that. Good management with an eye to the future will make sure we have both the wildlife and the economic benefits they bring.

    + Dan @ 09:49am

    Tuesday, October 19 2004

    Keep Fort Riley in mind

    Michael Pearce has a good reminder in his Wichita Eagle column: don’t forget about Fort Riley. While getting on the base requires going through some hoops, once you get there, you’re in one of the largest publicly accessible outdoor spaces in Kansas.

    Deer and turkey populations are doing especially well there, and quail numbers are up this year as compared to previous years.

    For more about Ft. Riley’s hunting opportunities and regulations, call (785) 239-6211, or log onto Fort Riley’s Outdoor Recreation Center website, which can tell you how to get the required permits.

    + Dan @ 10:34am

    Thursday, October 7 2004

    National Wildlife Federation Releases “Blueprint for America’s Wetlands”

    We received this email from the National Wildlife Federation today, which is looking for organizations to sign onto its new agenda for wetlands preservation and restoration. If you belong to a club, group, or organization that wants to take action that will keep wetland areas intact, please take a look at their Blueprint.

    Hunters and anglers across the country have time and time again shown their support for protection of wetlands. Sportsmen and women know that wetlands are critical to both humans and wildlife. Yet the nation continues to lose around 130,000 acres of wetlands per year and what remains, is increasingly degraded. What will it take to save America’s wetlands for future generations of humans and wildlife?

    NWF has attempted to answer this question in the form of a “Conservation Blueprint for America’s Wetlands.” The Wetlands Blueprint sets out an aggressive and comprehensive agenda, in the form of 10 essential steps for the protection and restoration of the nation’s wetlands. We would like to ask for you to join us in endorsing and promoting this critical Blueprint.

    (more…)

    + Dan @ 04:18pm

    Tuesday, September 28 2004

    Kansas gets walleye ‘Super Bowl’

    The folks in Geary County haven’t just gotten a walleye tournament, they’ve landed the walleye tournament.

    This story in the Kansas City Star has the details. The short and sweet version is that the Professional Walleye Trail will hold its 2005 championship tournament at Milford Lake. (If you get a “registration required” screen, use “register@kswildlife.org” as your id and “topeka1″ as your password.)

    The last championship brought a crowd of somewhere around 4,000 people, so this should be a good deal for area motels and restaurants.

    What brings the championship to Kansas? The great fish landed during the last walleye tournament. Once again, Kansas proves it has world-class resources - the question is whether outdoorsmen and women here will do what it takes to maintain them.

    + Dan @ 04:32pm

    Friday, September 24 2004

    NWF: Sportsmen a Bigger Factor Than Ever

    Our sister organization in the DC area, the National Wildlife Federation, recently this around to the 47 state affiliates, and it’s very interesting reading on how hunters and anglers are beginning to become important voting groups in elections:

    CANDIDATES COURT SPORTSMEN

    Even before NWF released its poll on the attitudes of hunters and anglers on key conservation issues back in July, members of Congress and even the presidential candidates themselves have been courting sportsmen to a greater extent than in years past. The Bush Administration has issued several executive orders, including one expanding hunting opportunities in wildlife refuges and one announcing the “Cooperative Conservation Conference” would be held next year (see this link for more.) It has launched The Bush Cheney ’04 Sportsmen’s Team site and posted several fact sheets on the Interior Department’s website defending its record.

    Meanwhile, Senator Kerry has released his “Sportsmen’s Bill of Rights” and participated in a magazine interviews along with the President. He’s even taken the initiative to call prominent outdoor writers.

    For its part, NWF continues call on both presidential candidates - and all politicians for that matter - to address the major conservation issues that are of concern to hunters and anglers, including the impacts of mercury pollution on recreational fishing, the impact of oil and gas development on key wildlife habitat and the continued loss of wetlands due to current government policies. In fact, NWF has just launched a new “Blueprint for the Conservation of America’s Wetlands” that sportsmen’s groups can endorse. Ultimately, members of Congress and other politicians will be asked whether they too support this more ambitious agenda that can truly help protect and restore wetlands.

    For more information about the blueprint contact Julie Sibbing at Sibbing@nwf.org.

    + Dan @ 01:28pm

    Friday, September 3 2004

    Volunteer Opportunity

    The Kansas Wildlife Federation, in conjunction with Kansas Big Brothers/Big Sisters, is working to put on a Casting Clinic for Kids in El Dorado, on Saturday, September 25. We have just about everything we need, but we need a few more instructors.

    Our goal is to teach the good casting form for all kinds of fishing methods, and set these anglers on the right track for terrific presentation.

    If you have some time on that Saturday morning and would like to volunteer your services, please email us here in Topeka or call the KWF office at 785-232-3238.

    + Dan @ 10:58am

    Wednesday, September 1 2004

    Hunting, Fishing, & Furharvesting School Enrollments Open

    One of KWF’s most successful programs is our program for kids 12-18, which is intended to help youth further master their basic outdoor skills. Hunting, Fishing, and Furharvesting School has trained hundreds of kids over the years. The 2004 edition is set for October 2-3, at the Rock Springs 4-H Center near Junction City.

    Enrollment for this year’s class is now open. The cost is $75 per participant, and each youth must attend with a parent or anoher responsible adult.

    This year’s activities and classes include Fishing, Rifle Marksmanship, Furharvesting, Wingshooting, and more. Applications are due September 10. If you want an application form sent to you, contact us here at the KWF office - (785) 232-3238 - or email us at info@kswildlife.org.

    + Dan @ 10:56am

    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

    Wednesday, August 25 2004

    Mercury in Fish Almost Everywhere

    48 of the 50 states in the union now have a mercury problem in their fish, with the greatest single source being emissions from coal-fired power plants.

    While this problem’s been brewing for a long time, it’s just now starting to get the serious national attention it deserves. Take a look at this search on Google News for ‘mercury’ and ‘fish.’

    The E.P.A. is putting a brave face on the matter, insisting that mercury levels aren’t rising, it’s just that we have better monitoring. While the technology exists today to reduce mercury emissions by 90%, the current administration proposal is to reduce mercury output by 26% over 6 years.

    The problem here is that mercury “bioaccumulates” which means that it increases in concentration as it moves up the food chain. In essence, it perists in the environment for years. Even if emissions are coming down, the mercury emitted this year will be around for a long time.

    In Kansas, KWF is watch-dogging a proposal to build a complex of coal-fired powerplants along the Misourri River. Our sister organization, the National Wildlife Federation, is working in Congress to keep the current law in place, which would reduce mercury emmissions sharply.

    For more on what mercury does and why it’s a problem, check out this handy reference site.

    + Dan @ 05:07pm

    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 17 2004

    One Week Left to Register for Becoming an Outdoors Woman

    You have to look around the registration form’s fine print to find it out, but you only have one week left to register for this year’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman Kansas workshop. Registration closes on August 24, and the camp runs from September 24-26 at Rock Springs Camp, near Junction City.

    The BOW program looks terrific this year, with sessions on archery, shotgunning, beginning and advanced hunting techniques, mountain biking, botany, canoeing, and a lot more. The full brochure and registration form is online at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks website. Note that the brochure is a six-page Adobe Acrobat form, so it might take some time to download.

    Get the registration form and program by clicking here, or you can call our state’s coordinator, Jami Vonderschmidt, at (785) 368-5449.

    + Dan @ 10:02am

    New State Smallmouth Record

    Congratulations are in order for Jason Heis, a Salina man who set the new state record for smallmouth bass, bringing in a 6-pound, 11-ounce fish.

    Jason caught his fish off the dam face at Milford, which has to be one of the best fishing lakes in the Great Plains.

    + Dan @ 09:38am

    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

    Friday, August 6 2004

    Reminder: Two Weeks Left for Platte River Input

    A reminder that commentary to the US Fish and Wildlife Service on the proposed Platte River recovery plan is due by August 20th. If you don’t know about the issue, or don’t know how to send commentary, the National Wildlife Federation has made it easy for you: just click on this link and you’ll be taken to NWF’s letter page, where you can send your comments off in a few seconds.

    This issue is important to Kansas not just because of the Platte’s enormous role in the Central Flyway, but also because it gets to the heart of most of our water issues here in the state: overallocation. Governments across the West have awarded more water rights than there is water. Getting out of that jam is going to take quite a bit of time and effort.

    + Dan @ 11:09am

    Thursday, August 5 2004

    Walleye Championship at Wilson Lake

    The rest of America keeps on discovering what we have to offer in Kansas, as Lake Wilson will be host for the Great Plains Championship of Walleye Fishing.

    This will be a two-day tournament, August 14 and 15. Top prize is $2,000, and you just might get on TV, as the tournament will be filmed by the syndicated fishing show, Walleye Wisdom.

    If you want to look at registration, head on over the tournament website, WalleyeCup.com.

    + Dan @ 02:27pm

    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

    Monday, July 26 2004

    Zebra Mussells and White Perch

    The aquatic invasion’s picking up speed, as related in this article from the Wichita Eagle.

    Samples of water have found up to 25,000 larval mussells per cubic meter of water. The mussells are moving downstream past the dam as well.

    Zebra mussells reduce the amount of plankton in a lake, driving down numbers of other mollusks and fish, and also clog water structures like pipes and intakes.

    At the same time white perch have been discovered in another lake near Wichita.

    So the bottom line on all of this is: Empty out everything - bait buckets, live wells, bilges - before you leave any lake or stream. The best thing is to keep your boat dry for five days between uses. If that’s not doable, wash everything out with HOT water of 140 degrees or higher, or else use a 10% chlorine solution.

    + Dan @ 10:19am

    Tuesday, July 20 2004

    The Cabela’s Catfish Tournament

    Did you know that one of the four stops in the Cabela’s national catfishing tournament, the KingKat series, was held at Milford? Somehow I missed that.

    Here’s a story about your winners: a pair of anglers from the Naperville, IL area. Jack Paul and Benji Powell did their homework, spent a day out scouting, and then teamed up to reel in 85 pounds of catfish.

    The “in your face” moment, however, comes here:

    “We could have brought in seven fish,” Paul noted. “But we only brought in six (for the victory). We didn’t have enough room in our boat’s live well. ”

    + Dan @ 01:29pm

    Friday, July 16 2004

    The NRA Tangles with Outdoor Writers

    The Washington Post carries this story detailing a spat between the National Rifle Association and the Outdoor Writers of America.

    The quick summary: the NRA warned the Outdoor Writers against supporting organizations like the Sierra Club, saying these groups are anti-hunting. The board of the Outdoor Writers of America sent a letter strongly condemning the NRA’s stance, and making the suggestion that the NRA doesn’t care about hunting and the natural resources of our nation.

    Plenty of fault on both sides, actually. The NRA’s priority is guns in and of themselves, and whether or not there’s anything to hunt with your rifle or shotgun seems pretty far down their list of priorities. It certainly seems outlandish for the NRA to maintain that it “has contributed more to preserve hunting lands than any organization in this country.” I’m sure that would come as news to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation or Ducks Unlimited.

    At the same time, it’s a little naive to think that there’s a natural friendship between the Sierra Club and hunters and anglers. When the Sierra Club magazine ran a piece called “Why I Hunt,” the article triggered a deluge of letters from members who were outraged that such a piece had sullied their newsletter. When Paul Watson ran for the organization’s Presidency, he made it clear his goal was to drive out hunters and anglers out of America’s National Forest lands.

    We all want the same thing: a thriving outdoor world. But the vision of what we’re going to be allowed to do with it varies greatly from group to group, and it’s important to be honest about those differences.

    + Dan @ 01:23pm

    Thursday, July 1 2004

    July Bass Fishing Tips for Kansas

    Here in Topeka and Northeast Kansas, we’re having either one very long spring or an unseasonably cool summer.

    But it’s bound to get hot eventually, and the fishing will change accordingly. Great Plains Game & Fish carries this article about hot weather bass fishing in Kansas.

    Lots of good stuff here, especially the reminder about the Department of Wildlife and Parks effort to provide fishing access to private waters. That’s the Fishing Impoundment & Stream Habitat program, and you can get the atlas online at the KDWP website. (You’ll need Acrobat reader and a fast connection.)

    + Dan @ 09:46am

    Australia Gunning for Poachers

    The Australian government has apparently had enough of poachers and illegal fishing in their seas. Customs officials have fitted out a research boat with a boarding party and .50 caliber machine guns.

    Said one Senator:

    “This sends a very clear message to illegal fisherman that we are deadly serious about cracking down on the trade,” he said.

    Yes, I think that would successfully send a signal.

    + Dan @ 09:32am

    Tuesday, June 29 2004

    Tips for Big Channel Cat

    I thought this was a useful article from Great Plains Game & Fish: How to Get Your Cat Out of a Tree.

    Catfish, of course, and submerged trees. That is a certainly a resource our state has in abundance, especially along the Kansas River.

    + Dan @ 10:41am

    Thursday, June 24 2004

    More Pork for the Corps

    Yet more pork for the Army Corps of Engineers: the Kansas City Star reports that a $3.1 billion measure to expand the locks on the Upper Mississippi River has moved out of committee. (If you get a registration screen for the article, enter “register@kswildlife.org” as the user name and “topeka” as the password.)

    This is one of those Army Corps projects that might have made sense forty years ago, but today is a waste of dollars no matter how you slice it. Two different investigations by the National Academy of Sciences and a White House audit have found that the assumptions behind the lock expansion are deeply flawed. The Corps says that the expansion is needed because more traffic is coming on the river - but no one else foresees that expansion in traffic.

    The answer, as always, is to call the Kansas representatives and ask them what’s going on. Senator Brownback’s office is (202) 224-6521, and Senator Roberts’ office is (202) 224-4774.

    + Dan @ 10:46am

    Tuesday, June 22 2004

    Judge Tells Corps to Keep Going

    Bad news from the court system: a federal judge has told the Army Corps of Engineers to keep using the Missouri River as a highway.

    The link above is from the Bismarck Tribune, and contains one of the better write-ups I’ve seen of the history of this issue. For more on this, see previous posts here and here.

    The bottom line on this is that the Corps sees itself as an agency that builds Big Projects. But times change, and now sometimes those Big Projects hurt more than they help. America’s rivers and wetlands need a 21st-century Army Corps of Engineers.

    + Dan @ 09:44am

    Friday, June 4 2004

    Fishing Without a Boat

    Not being a boat-owner myself, I almost never do anything else but bank fish. But with gas staying close to $2 a gallon for now, I may be seeing a lot more of you alongside me on the shoreline.

    Along those lines, Dry Creek, the outdoor columnist for the Pratt Tribune, has this entry on catching fish for less than $15 of gas.

    And while a lot of us are pretty far away from Pratt, it’s a good read and it may give you some ideas on similar places close to you that you haven’t been to for awhile. The KDWP Fishing Page doesn’t have a good directory of the Kansas State Fishing Lakes, but if you go region by region, you’ll be able to find some good fishing opportunities that don’t require a boat or a day trip.

    + Dan @ 03:33pm

    Wednesday, May 26 2004

    Outdoor Adventure Camp Enrollment Now Open

    If you are a Kansas youngster - or have a youngster who will be between the ages of 10 and 12 this summer and who enjoys the outdoors - now is the time to make plans to attend Outdoor Adventure Camp. The camp will be held at the Camp WaShunGa area of Rock Springs 4-H Center (just south of Junction City) and runs from Saturday, July 17 through Thursday, July 22. Outdoor Adventure Camp (OAC) is sponsored by the Kansas Wildlife Federation and is open to all Kansas youngsters, male or female.

    Mornings will be spent hiking the grounds at Rock Springs with instructors, getting a hands-on feel for how the various animals and plants live together in the place we call Kansas. Afternoons are spent learning about several general interest areas of the Kansas outdoors, including mammals, insects, birds, fish, and amphibians and reptiles. Instructors come from the ranks of Wildlife and Parks, Kansas State University, NRCS, County Conservation Districts, and other organizations.

    Since the prairie doesn’t go to sleep at sundown, neither will you. Depending on the evening, you may be out and about prowling for owls, star-gazing, or watching bats gobble bugs. Daily dips in the pool are always on the agenda (sometimes twice) and you will get a chance to sit around a campfire, eat s’mores, and tell stories. Always one evening, we go up to the pond and have a friendly bit of competition with a FISHING CONTEST!

    Other activities planned are scavenger hunts; water sports to include swimming and canoeing; fishing; shooting sports to include rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, archery, and pellet gun; arts and crafts; and even horseback riding. You will get to pick your choices for some of these activities and be able to participate in all if you like. We always take a day-trip to the Milford Nature Center and Fish Hatchery too.

    So, a swimsuit, sleeping gear, and clothes you’ll wear for a week are about all you need to bring along. Food, instruction, and lodging are all included in the price of the camp. Things like sunscreen, insect repellent, a cap, and a water bottle are other things that will certainly come in handy. The price for the entire week is $215. Space is limited and the registration deadline is July 15.

    Send your application and full fee to Theresa Berger, Outdoor Adventure Camp, 406 S. New York Ave, Sylvan Grove, Kansas 67481. Checks should be made out to the Kansas Wildlife Federation. If you need more information or an application, phone 785-526-7466 evenings or 785-658-2465 during the day. You can e-mail us at bergkwf@wtciweb.com.

    + Dan @ 03:11pm

    Thursday, April 29 2004

    Crappie Forecasting

    There’s been too much work and not enough fun on this weblog lately, so I thought I’d try to fix that balance by tossing in this article from Great Plains Game and Fish, which gives out predictions for this year’s crappie fishing in Kansas.

    I know some of you are too busy with spring turkey season to be thinking about fishing just yet. That’s great, because it means you’re getting outdoors - and because there’s all the more water for me to cover.

    Had a not-bad day at Coffey the other day, with most of the action up against the dam face.

    + Dan @ 08:15am

    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

    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

    The Corps Diagnoses Itself

    Melissa Samet of American Rivers sends along this gem of an editorial from the Billings Gazette, in which the Assistant Secretary for the Corps gives the most accurate self-diagnosis I’ve seen in some time.

    In case you’ve missed it, the Army Corps was told by the courts and by different scientific and accounting minds that it must A) quit using the Missouri River as a barge highway and B) modify flows for fish and wildlife. The Corps’ current operating plan calls for it to keep using the river for barges and ignore fish and wildlife.

    Lawsuits are expensive and eat up time. But this is a perfect example as to why sometimes, you don’t have any other alternative.

    + Dan @ 01:29pm

    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 8 2004

    MSNBC Gets “Isolated Wetlands”

    Most of the reporting I’ve seen on the “isolated wetlands” issue gets the story wrong. The most common error is an implication that the issue is over and that the conservationists have won.

    This story from MSNBC.com gets the issue exactly right. All the pieces that are usually missing are in the story, including how duck hunters helped bring pressure on the President, how the Corps is still enforcing the White House’s rulemaking that endangers isolated wetlands, and how a normally rock-solid Republican vote is being eroded. Excellent reading, if you want to catch up on the latest developments in the issue.

    + Dan @ 11:17am

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