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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!

Sincerely,
The National Wildlife Federation Team

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+ Don S @ 03:09pm

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 21 2005

Tips for hunting the rut

Kansas deer hunting shows up big again on ESPN.com’s Outdoors section. The main thrust of the article is on tree stand selection for maximum success during the rut, but us Kansans can’t help but notice - whether good, bad, or indifferent - the way that the rest of the nation is coming here for deer hunting.

+ Dan @ 11:23am

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

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

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

Friday, August 19 2005

Birds and birds

Two different bird-hunting issues are coming our way here.

1) In this story from the Lawrence Journal-World, we get a reminder that dove season is only 12 days away. This article has a number of good tips on how to get ready and how to get the most out of your experience.

And if you need some ideas on what to do with your harvest, this recipe page from North Carolina State’s extension service has some great recipes for dove (and much more. )

2) The US Fish & Wildlife Service is considering an idea called the “hunter’s choice” bag concept. Essentially, what this idea boils down to is that instead of having many distinct waterfowl seasons, hunters would be responsible for setting their own bag limits within an overall limit framework. This would avoid some season closures and would help keep hunters from accidentally violating the law.

If after reading the story, you have an opinion on the concept, email us at info@kswildlife.org.

+ Dan @ 12:12pm

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 29 2005

Electricity official: “Wind energy is too expensive”

The fight over wind energy in the Flint Hills is hardly unique: it’s one of many. Controversies over appropriate wind energy installations are taking place in West Virginia, New England, Idaho, and overseas in places such as Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

One of the places where developers are looking to put in wind energy turbines is England’s Lake District, which has been a resort for travellers looking for scenic beauty for hundreds of years.

This article from England’s “News & Star” tells how one electricity expert has declared that wind power is too expensive. It’s commonly assumed that because wind itself is free that wind energy will be “too cheap to meter.” But wind energy usually increases electric bills, because now two power plants are required - the wind turbines themselves, and then a back-up generator for when the wind dies down, or blows too hard, or is blowing a little bit but not very much, or…. You get the idea.

+ Dan @ 05:16pm

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

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

Federal Government: red now green, day now night

The Kansas City Star carries this remarkable story on the federal government’s new grazing standards for public lands.

Here’s the killer quote:

The original draft of the environmental analysis warned that the new rules would have a “significant adverse impact” on wildlife. That phrase was removed. The agency now concludes that the grazing regulations are “beneficial to animals.”

That’s quite an edit.

Playing politics with conservation standards is nothing new, of course, and is hardly limited to the federal government. It’s exactly this kind of nonsense that requires sportsmen to watchdog the government and make sure it’s taking care of the resource.

+ Dan @ 11:43am

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

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

Wednesday, June 1 2005

Outdoor Adventure Camp!

Outdoor Adventure Camp is sooner than usual this year, with this year’s camp scheduled for June 12-17.

If you have a child or grandchild who is between the ages of 10 and 12 this summer and who enjoys the outdoors, you want to act now to get your registration taken care of. This is a great opportunity for kids to get set on a course of a lifetime of outdoor adventures.

As always, the camp will be held at the Camp WaShunGa area of Rock Springs 4-H Center (just south of Junction City).

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 do the kids. Depending on the evening, they 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 there’s always 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. Kids will get to pick your choices for some of these activities and be able to participate in all if desired. OAC alsy includes a day-trip to the Milford Nature Center and Fish Hatchery too.

Campers need to bring a swimsuit, suncreen, sleeping gear, and clothes for a week . Food, instruction, and lodging are all included in the price of the camp. Things like insect repellent, a cap, and a water bottle will also come in handy. The price for the entire week is $215. Space is limited.

If you need more information or an application, phone 785-526-7466 evenings or 785-658-2465 during the day, or you can e-mail questions to bergkwf@wtciweb.com.

+ Dan @ 01:56pm

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

Work begins on Elk River wind power facility

One of the most controversial stands of the Kansas Wildlife Federation - the one that gets us the most cancelled memberships - is our stand against commercial wind energy in the intact grasslands of Kansas. (On the flip side, a lot of people join us precisely because of our stand on this issue.)

In turn, one of the most commonly cited objections to our stance is that we’re not respecting property rights.

This article from the Wichita Eagle examines the viewpoint of the adjacent property owner. Property rights are important, and when your neighbor is putting up hundreds of 26-story buildings on his property, and electric companies are condemning your property in order to build access roads, that is a pretty serious impact.

It’s too bad that it’s only now, as the projects are starting, that the media coverage is finally getting around to this angle.

One of the unfortunate cliches repeated in the story is found in this quote:

They [the turbines] are expected to generate 150 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 42,000 homes a year.

A much more accurate quote would be that the turbines will help generate 150 megawatts. On days when the wind is blowing just right, they will power 42,000 homes. On other days, when the wind isn’t blowing enough, or isn’t blowing at all, or is blowing too hard, the turbines will be supplemented by already existing coal or nuclear power generation.

+ Dan @ 02:19pm

Thursday, May 19 2005

See Kansas natural springs on Memorial Day

The Hillsboro Free Press has this terrific story on an upcoming tour of natural springs in the Flint Hills.

The tour is put on by the Peabody Historical Society, as part of their work to preserve the history of Marion County.

The tour includes nine springs, requires hiking shoes, and sounds like a terrific opportunity to see the Flint Hills. For tour reservations or more information, call 620-983-2438 or 620-983-2815.

I’m surprised none of the landowners in question are trying to make money off their springs. In Texas, springs like this are frequently swimming holes, with a little parking, a soda machine, and a few dollars for an entry fee. It’s a way to make money off an asset.

+ Dan @ 02:29pm

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

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

Wednesday, April 27 2005

The menace of feral hogs

Forbes.com carries this story on the damage that feral hogs do to native landscapes.

While the article focuses on Texas, the lessons it carries - the damage these animals can do to crops and rangeland - applies here to Kansas as well.

I’ve heard stories in many different places about wild pigs in Kansas. The KDWP has exactly the right idea here: no season, no bag limit. In places where pigs have become sport animals, the attempt to manage them as game has put real hardship on the land, as in most cases, it was land that was never meant to have them there.

+ Dan @ 07:39pm

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

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
mcginn@senate.state.ks.us
785-296-7377

Representative Don Myers
Chair of the House Wildlife, Tourism & Parks Committee
myers@house.state.ks.us
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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 9 2005

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

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

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

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

    Thursday, January 27 2005

    The Dark Side of Wind Power

    A powerful combination of article and editorial from the Massachusetts paper, the North Adams Transcript. The Berkshire Hills are one of the many places in New England that have been targeted for commercial wind energy.

    In Kansas, the issue of wind power is often portrayed as an issue of property rights. One key question in that regard is “what effect do my actions have on my neighbor’s property and its value?” Take a look at some of the quotes regarding the noise impact of wind turbine installations on their neighbors. Here’s one example:

    In New York, Pastor Kathleen Danley lives two good-size fields from the Fenner wind-power plant, and describes the noise as “a loud clothes dryer; that would probably be the closest sound, that constant turning sound.”

    She explains, “We were told that the windmills had been redesigned so as not to be noisy, but the grinding noise goes on 24 hours a day (when they are operating) and at times is far worse than other times.”

    When people ask why wind turbines are incompatible with the Flint Hills, stories like these provide part of answer.

    + Dan @ 10:45am

    Monday, January 17 2005

    Prairie Chickens for days!

    Steve Sorensen sends along this link to a picture of a field full of prairie-chickens.

    I can’t count that high, but Steve says there’s about 275 in the picture, which is a panorama of a field in the Flint Hills, near Allen.

    + Dan @ 11:56am

    Friday, January 14 2005

    NRA targets hunters

    The National Rifle Association has created a position dedicated to helping hunters. Dawson Hobbs, formerly a legislative liason for the Kansas Legislature, is now the NRA’s Manager of Hunting Policy.

    There’s lots of work to be done, and I’m sure the NRA can make really important contributions for America’s hunters. Hopefully they’ll be able to address the habitat issues that are causing great problems for the hunting and angling public.

    + Dan @ 05:00pm

    Wednesday, January 12 2005

    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

    Wednesday, December 29 2004

    2005 Memberships

    Kansas Wildlife Federation is 501c3 organization, and so your membership contributions are fully tax-deductible.

    You can still get in a 2004 tax-deduction - and renew your membership for 2005 - by using our secure online giving page. By typing in your MasterCard or Visa number and selecting an amount before January 1, 2005, you can help out yourself and the outdoors of Kansas.

    If you’ve gotten a membership renewal form from us recently, here’s an easy way to get that taken care without having to find a stamp or get to the post office!

    + Dan @ 02:56pm

    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, December 15 2004

    Good news about whooping cranes

    While we all know the bad news about the whooping cranes that were shot in Kansas, it’s good to keep in mind that there is good news on that front as well. The Kansas City Star has this article from Brent Frazee on the whooper’s come-back.

    It’s too early to declare victory, of course, with only 460 or so of the birds in existence. But by the same token, that’s a bigger number than we’ve seen for 100 years now. Wildlife officials estimate that the whooping crane population is growing by 4% each year. Unlike the days of my childhood, extinction no longer seems imminent.

    + Dan @ 11:15am

    Tuesday, December 14 2004

    KWF announces youth hunting essay contest

    The Kansas Wildlife Federation, a statewide organization of hunters and anglers, is calling for essays from youth hunters who want to share their pride in the outdoors.

    Youths ages 12 to 15 who live in Kansas are invited to submit essays for KWF’s essay contest on the theme “Why I’m Proud to Hunt.”

    The winner will receive a free guided hunt from Paradise Adventures, Altoona, during the 2005 youth turkey season. KWF will reimburse the family for mileage needed to drive to Altoona.

    These days, there are so many things for kids to do,” said Dan Ward, KWF’s executive director. “A lot of them keep kids indoors, so it’s important for the kids who hunt to share that tradition with their peers.” (more…)

    + Dan @ 07:57am

    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

    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

    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

    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 10 2004

    Mountain lions in Kansas

    The question of mountain lions in Kansas comes up pretty frequently. The predators seem to pass through the state from places like Colorado and New Mexico, but it’s doubtful they stay too long here.

    A woman in Colby says she’s spotted a mountain lion near her place. Her neighbors seem to shrug it off:

    Carson said others have seen the cat. “We all leave it alone,” she said. “We all get along with it.”

    + Dan @ 10:20am

    Turkeys not destroying crops

    The successful increase in turkey populations in Kansas has a cost: many Kansans believe that turkeys are responsible for the decline in quail populations or that turkeys are causing massive amounts of crop damage.

    But research that’s come out from Purdue University shows little crop damage from turkeys. Field biologists worked for two years to try to find significant damage to corn and wheat fields in Indiana from turkey populations, using night vision cameras and tracking devices.

    What they found instead was that nocturnal animals such as deer and racoons were the pillagers, doing 95% of the damage.

    The word can’t get spread fast enough: California grape growers are looking for crop depredation permits to kill turkeys, believing that the birds are destroying their vineyards. (Warning: this link has a lot of annoying pop-ups.)

    + Dan @ 10:16am

    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

    Monday, November 1 2004

    Web resource for landowners with quail

    While looking for information on the new “bobwhite buffers” program, I came across this website for the Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

    The MASWD has a useful online newsletter called “The Covey.” This is a great little resource, full of land management techniques, information on government programs, and this particular issue has some info on why turkeys are not a threat to bobwhite quail.

    Highly recommended. I looked for a Kansas equivalent, but couldn’t locate it - if you know of one, please email to info@kswildlife.org.

    + Dan @ 02:02pm

    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

    Tuesday, October 26 2004

    Playa lakes now part of Conservation Reserve Program

    This story from about playa lake enrollment in the CRP is fairly old, but there’s so much information these days that some things slip under the radar.

    Simply put, this is really good news. Playa lakes are the “intermittent wetlands” that are so often derided by groups like the Kansas Farm Bureau, and it’s true that these areas may not be wet for more than two weeks out of every two years.

    But as the story shows, there’s a lot of enlightened self-interest involved in preserving these areas as well, since they are the recharge zones for the Ogallala Aquifer.

    If you have land that might qualify for this new initiative of the CRP, contact the Kansas office of the Farm Service Agency, and ask about enrolling your land in “CP23a”, the CRP program for playa lakes.

    Also, if you want to learn more about why playas are so important, you can check out the website of the Playa Lakes Joint Venture, a collaborative effort between conservation organizations and government agencies.

    + Dan @ 10:25am

    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

    Wednesday, October 20 2004

    Audubon Bird Counts

    The Wichita Eagle carries this AP story on the National Audubon Society’s “State of the Birds” report. If you’ve participated in an Audubon Bird Breeding Survey, then your observations are part of this report, which looks at American bird populations from 1966 to 2003.

    There is some good news in the report, though unfortunately you have to dig to find it. That good news is overshadowed for a lot of us by the sharp decline in quail and prairie-chicken. Species considered as “grassland” and “shrubland” birds are having a particularly difficult time.

    As we talk about what’s happening with quail in Kansas, it’s worth keeping in mind that this is a phenomenon seen in many places in America, not just here.

    + Dan @ 12:49pm

    Tuesday, October 19 2004

    Terrific Website for Waterfowlers

    Ducks Unlimited has a great new resource for waterfowl hunters up at their new site, waterfowler.com. This is a membership site, but a lot of goodies are available for free, including a discussion board for hunting experiences (here’s the one for Kansas) and a map of reported waterfowl observations.

    This is the kind of thing that the Internet can do - link up a lot of diverse data into one easily usable resource.

    + Dan @ 10:24am

    Wednesday, October 13 2004

    Quail are having a hard time in many places

    From the Wichita Eagle comes this story about quail in Georgia.

    Whenever I do a public speaking engagement, quail and their decline in Kansas is always a subject. But as this story shows, quail aren’t just having a hard time here.

    A telling quote from the article:

    Biologists cite the elimination of hedgerows and weedy strips between fields, and the reliance on pesticides that don’t discriminate between true crop pests and bugs that quail eat.

    I was talking to a landowner the other day who told me about how he hasn’t seen quail on his property since spraying for grasshoppers 5 years ago. While habitat is an important question, how much food the quail have to eat also needs some attention.

    + Dan @ 11:38am

    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

    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

    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

    Thursday, September 23 2004

    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

    Friday, September 17 2004

    Some Welcome Weeds at Cheyenne Bottoms

    Michael Pearce from the Wichita Eagle writes about the current situation at Cheyenne Bottoms.

    When I was out there last, things looked pretty grim - most of the Bottoms looked flat and parched, like a dried-up Nevada lakebed.

    But the silver lining to the drought was that staff have been able to burn and then till up the cattails that were infesting the area. Since then, kochia has taken root and this fall, some of the pools will be terrific duck hunting habitat.

    + Dan @ 06:26pm

    Wednesday, September 15 2004

    Wind Power Forum In Geary County on Sunday

    Jayne Link sends along this notice of a forum this Sunday, put on by our friends at the Tallgrass Ranchers and Protect the Flint Hills.

    Right now, for better or worse, county governments are making the decisions about commercial wind energy in the prairie. Too often, this issue is treated as one of aesthetics, rather than of conservation, ethics, and heritage. This forum should be excellent, and if you live in Geary County, or just care about the county, we’d urge to attend the meeting and find ways to get involved with the decisions your county is making.

    Join Us for a Group Discussion about Industrial Wind Developments in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

    SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2004

    7:00 PM

    MCDOWELL CREEK COMMUNITY CENTER

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Our invited guest speaker is Rose Bacon, who is a rancher from Council Grove. Rose was member of Governor Sebelius’s Wind and Prairie Task Force. A portion of the film ‘Last Stand of the Tall Grass Prairie’ will also be shown, followed by questions and discussion

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Though we are zoned Agricultural, an industrial wind development is being planned for a large area between Humboldt Creek and McDowell Creek. If allowed to go through, this installation would change the quality of life forever.

    Citizen action can affect the outcome but only if we:

    1) Inform Ourselves

    and

    2) Make Our Voices Heard

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    This event is sponsored by the Geary County Chapter of Tallgrass Ranchers and Protect the Flint Hills Organizations. For further information call 785-776-8852.

    + Dan @ 12:46pm

    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

    Migratory Birds: Season Dates and Recipes

    The migratory bird seasons change from year to year, so here are this year’s dates and limits for the various federally regulated birds.

    Note that the light goose season is effectively six months long. It’s one of your best hunting opportunities, but a lot of people don’t like the taste of the bird. So here are a few recipes for snow goose. Additionally, this man says that the key to great snow goose chili is to make sure and get all the blood out of the meat.

    Happy hunting and happy eating!

    + Dan @ 09:47am

    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

    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

    Information Needed on Styrofoam and Turtles

    The quoted email below is from Joseph Collins at the Center for North American Herpetology sent over this email, looking for assistance. The short version: we need to find out whether styrofoam is a threat to turtle survival in the outdoors. If you have any information, please scroll down to the bottom and follow up on the email address provided.

    Common Snapping Turtles and Styrofoam

    We received this call for information regarding Common Snapping Turtles. If you have any information regarding this request, please use the contact information below.

    I recently received a message about a turtle die-off in northeastern Wisconsin and then had a follow-up call that one of the not-so-fresh dead turtles was cut open to examine stomach content. The turtle, a Common snapping Turtle, had a bunch of white Styrofoam in its stomach that was one of those small night crawler boxes prior to consumption. The caller wondered if the smell of the worms had caused the turtle to be attracted to the box or if it simply went after the white Styrofoam. This is one of several reports I have received in recent weeks about turtle die-offs, usually involving a small number of turtles. Die-offs at this time of year are usually uncommon to non-existent here as most usually appear to be associated with over wintering mortality or post-emergence die-offs of weakened animals.

    I am writing to see if anyone has documented or found anecdotal information regarding the threat of Styrofoam to turtles and whether the discarded night crawler box issue is cause for concern related to turtle survival. I tend to see these discarded boxes almost everywhere I see fishing activity, so this problem could be a potentially serious one for turtles if consumption causes mortality.

    Respond to:

    Robert Hay
    Cold-blooded Species Manager
    Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
    Endangered Resources Program
    P. O. Box 7921
    Madison, WI 53707
    (608)267-0849
    fax-(608)266-2925
    email: robert.hay@dnr.state.wi.us

    + Dan @ 11:05am

    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

    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

    Tuesday, July 20 2004

    Platte River Input Needed by August 20th.

    Kansas is one of the most important stops along the Central Flyway for migratory birds.

    But all of the Great Plains states are important for that migration route, and Nebraska’s Platte River plays a critical part for cranes, shore birds and waterfowl.

    Like many rivers west of the Mississippi, the Platte is over-allocated - more water is awarded for pumping out than actually flows in.

    Right now, our partners in the National Wildlife Federation and the Nebraska Wildlife Federation are working hard to make sure that management plans for the river take wildlife into account.

    You can help by sending in your comments to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. NWF has made it easy for you: all you need to do is to 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.

    And if you want to take a look at what’s at stake, National Geographic has some highlights of this year’s crane migration through the Platte River area.

    + Dan @ 01:48pm

    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

    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

    Heroes You Don’t Hear About

    Kansas is just like the rest of America in at least one regard: we’re full of people doing great things that you don’t know about.

    The link above goes to a Wichita Eagle story about Don Distler, who has made it his life’s work to restore the native prairie on a Wichita State University property.

    He’s 76 now, but he’s still doing hard work at figuring out how to repel invaders and restore native plants. The research he’s done and is doing now will be invaluable to people who want to restore a native landscape.

    + Dan @ 10:40am

    Thursday, July 1 2004

    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

    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 24 2004

    Migratory Bird Management Shift Proposed

    Steve Sorensen, KWF President, sends along this email:

    There is bad news in Washington regarding migratory bird management. The Fisheries Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee is conducting a hearing Thursday, June 24, on H.R. 3320, introduced last fall by Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.). The bill would place all activities under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act under the auspices of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, instead of the Fish and Wildlife Service. It would also exempt the agency from the National Environmental Policy Act.

    Please take a moment and contact your U. S. Representative (go to http://www.house.gov/) and ask him what kind of politics they are playing in Washington. Putting the Agriculture Department in charge of migratory birds is like putting a weasel in charge of the rabbit hutch. It will be interesting to see how they respond to your inquiry. Excluding non-native birds from the migratory treaty act is a good move, since it would allow control of such invasive species as mute swans, which have wrecked havoc on the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

    Steve sends along the following article, which is quoted in its entirety, as it’s behind a paid subscription wall. Click on “more” to see it.

    (more…)

    + Dan @ 10:53am

    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

    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.”
    (more…)

    + Dan @ 11:57am

    Thursday, June 10 2004

    Natural Resource Leadership Camp for Youth

    John Bond of the Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams sends along this announcement of the Natural Resources Leadership Camp.

    This looks really neat. The camp is from July 5 to July 10, at the Rock Springs 4-H Camp near Junction City and Manhattan. Here’s some more of the description:

    The Natural Resource Leadership Camp is a week long camping experience for Kansas youths ages 12-15, with lots to do, plenty to learn, and many new friendships to make, all in a unique and positive setting. The emphasis is on learning, fun, and leadership.

    Learn about Kansas natural resources and how to protect them
    Get hands-on instruction from resource professionals.
    Develop leadership skills in games and community involvement
    Expand on leadership skills in second and third years with camp leader roles and resource based business visits

    For more information, call Laura Downey, Executive Director of the Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Education, at 785-532-3322.

    + Dan @ 05:18pm

    Friday, June 4 2004

    Who’s Releasing Diamondbacks into Kansas?

    I’m one of those people who don’t like snakes in general. So this story from ESPN is particularly disturbing to me.

    Some knucklehead has been releasing diamondback rattlers into Kanopolis State Park. These snakes are both bigger and deadlier than native prairie rattlesnakes. In addition besides the problem of non-native species, you also have the more immediate problem of ending up very sick or dead.

    There’s been at least 10 sightings of the snakes in Kanopolis. If you have any hints or ideas as to who might be releasing the snakes, call James Cherry, the local wildlife officer, at 785-658-2339.

    + Dan @ 03:16pm

    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.
    (more…)

    + Dan @ 02:37pm

    Thursday, May 20 2004

    Jail Time for Filling in Wetlands?

    This story from the New York Times has shown up on various websites: a Michigan man faces federal prison for filling in wetlands.

    Is it outrageous that this man faces more jail time than some drug dealers? Or that a non-violent first-time offender is looking at a five-year sentence?

    Possibly. On the other hand, if he’d constructed a dam illegally, depriving his downstream neighbors of water they had a right to, he’d be prosecuted and no one would be at all surprised. If he’d killed 40 ducks out of season without a permit, he’d get prosecuted, and again, no one would be surprised. By filling in seasonal wetlands, he’s harming wildlife and water quality, but because it’s water we can’t see, some people get baffled and up in arms.

    One of the ways we can fix the West’s water shortage is to treat groundwater as carefully as we do surface water.

    + Dan @ 02:54pm

    Chronic Wasting Disease Not Found in Missouri

    It’s not often that not finding something is news-worthy, but here’s an exception: a study of the Missouri deer herd found no evidence of chronic wasting disease.

    Let’s hope they keep not finding it - there hasn’t been a lot of good news on CWD.

    + Dan @ 02:41pm

    Tuesday, May 11 2004

    Chronic Wasting Disease Lingers

    Not exactly a day-brightener, but it’s worth reporting: chronic wasting disease apparently lingers in the environment. The disease is not only tranmissable from animal to animal, but also from ground to animal, for as long as two years. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is acting to kill off as many infected animals as possible, in an attempt to limit possible sources of new disease exposure.

    CWD is apparently similar to Mad Cow Disease, whereby prions infect the brain tissue of the animal. It’s important to point out that cooking doesn’t protect you from the disease.

    + Dan @ 02:52pm

    Wednesday, May 5 2004

    Another Poaching Story

    Don’t know how I missed this one the first time around, but it’s a biggie: an Augusta man and a minor have been charged in one of the biggest Kansas poaching cases in recent history.

    Evidence found included parts of more than 60 deer and 114 turkeys. The alleged poacher in question is looking at 24 misdemeanor counts and 2 felonies.

    District Attorneys and judges in Kansas often look on wildlife crimes as being “not really crimes.” But this one will (hopefully) be hard to ignore.

    + Dan @ 12:08pm

    Monday, April 26 2004

    Flint Hills Burns

    One of the most dramatic sights in Kansas is a prairie fire at night. The Topeka Capitol Journal has this article giving an overview of spring range burning.

    Range burning in Kansas simulates pre-settlement prairie fires, but “natural” fires would vary in time throughout the year, and might happen once every two or three years. Why does intense burning happen in one short period of time, every year?

    Here’s the money quote, (literally speaking):

    “There’s plenty of research showing that if you burn at the right time, your cattle could gain as much as 30 pounds per head in weight,” McClure said. “Historically, in Riley County, that ‘right time’ is between April 15 and May 1.”

    With live cattle recently priced at $86 per hundredweight, a shipment of 1,000 cattle could gain a $25,000 price advantage from the grass being burned at the “right time.” That’s awfully hard to walk away from.

    Unfortunately, there are other impacts. The tremendous amount of acreage being burned at more or less the same time creates air quality problems in Kansas City (which has enough all on its own), and harms prairie-chicken populations as well as other birds in the Flint Hills.

    It’s important to keep in mind that conservation problems rarely have simple causes, simple effects, or simple solutions.

    + Dan @ 09:59am

    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

    Saturday, March 27 2004

    Federal Case on Illegal Hunting Operation

    The Topeka Capital Journal reports on an undercover operation that resulted in the arrest of three Kansans who are accused of running an elaborate illegal hunting operation in the western part of the state.

    The three are, of course, innocent until proven guilty, but if they are proven guilty, they are in for a world of hurt. That’s a shame, considering how much the Krebs have put into their operation, but the game laws are there for a reason. Illegal and/or unethical hunting outfits don’t help anyone.

    + Dan @ 08:06pm

    Thursday, March 25 2004

    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

    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

    Thursday, March 4 2004

    Crane Cam!

    KWF President Steve Sorensen sends along this link to a live webcam of the Rowe Sanctuary along the Platte River.

    To view the cam, click on the link above, then click on Launch Crane Cam. It runs at limited hours, which are posted on the web site. As of this writing, those are 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. this week and then longer hours as daylight lengthens and crane numbers increase. Happy Viewing!

    + Dan @ 08:13pm

    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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