Kansas Wildlife Federation

Wednesday, October 27 2004

Riley County wind power regs

Filed under: — Dan @ 06:04pm

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.

Tuesday, October 26 2004

Playa lakes now part of Conservation Reserve Program

Filed under: — Dan @ 10:25am

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.

Thursday, October 21 2004

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

Filed under: — Dan @ 02:31pm

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.

Wednesday, October 20 2004

Audubon Bird Counts

Filed under: — Dan @ 12:49pm

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.

Tuesday, October 19 2004

Keep Fort Riley in mind

Filed under: — Dan @ 10:34am

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

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

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

Terrific Website for Waterfowlers

Filed under: — Dan @ 10:24am

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.

Wednesday, October 13 2004

Quail are having a hard time in many places

Filed under: — Dan @ 11:38am

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.

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…)

Monday, October 4 2004

The future of the Flint Hills

Filed under: — Dan @ 11:47am

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.

Friday, October 1 2004

Kansas Deer Forecast

Filed under: — Dan @ 06:14pm

ESPN Outdoors is always worth checking out, and here’s their Kansas whitetail forecast. Unfortunately, you’ll have to suffer through the cutsie “Wizard of Oz” references, but there’s still good information here.

One interesting piece to note: bowhunter success rates for residents are actually higher than rifle success rates -47% vs. 43%.

And if you don’t feel like going all the way to the end of the article, here’s an interesting quote:

Did you know? Kansas is one of the best trophy buck states in North America, with a virtual lock on big non-typicals in the Pope & Young record book. The Sunflower State has three of the top five, six of the top 10, and 11 of the top 25 non-typicals in the P & Y book …

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