Kansas Wildlife Federation

Thursday, April 29 2004

Crappie Forecasting

Filed under: — Dan @ 08:15am

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

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

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

Monday, April 26 2004

Flint Hills Burns

Filed under: — Dan @ 09:59am

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.

Wednesday, April 21 2004

Another Dust Bowl?

Filed under: — Dan @ 12:26pm

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.

Time for Input into Wind Energy

Filed under: — Dan @ 12:06pm

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.

Friday, April 16 2004

Legislators Work to Kill a State Park

Filed under: — Dan @ 12:59pm

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 9 2004

Well, it’s a start….

Filed under: — Dan @ 03:17pm

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

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

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

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

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

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