Kansas Wildlife Federation

Tuesday, May 31 2005

A round-up of conservation links

Filed under: — Dan @ 03:05pm

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.

Thursday, May 26 2005

Milford’s popularity endangering its fishery?

Filed under: — Dan @ 06:21pm

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.

Tuesday, May 24 2005

Work begins on Elk River wind power facility

Filed under: — Dan @ 02:19pm

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.

It’s walleye time!

Filed under: — Dan @ 02:06pm

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

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

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

Thursday, May 19 2005

See Kansas natural springs on Memorial Day

Filed under: — Dan @ 02:29pm

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.

Tuesday, May 17 2005

The Governor backs down on the Circle K

Filed under: — Dan @ 06:01pm

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?

Friday, May 13 2005

The poaching bill is now official…

Filed under: — Dan @ 05:15pm

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.)

Wednesday, May 11 2005

A sign of future water conflicts

Filed under: — Dan @ 02:40pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 5 2005

EPA modifies Kansas water quality standards

Filed under: — Dan @ 05:15pm

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.

Monday, May 2 2005

You have 4 weeks left…

Filed under: — Dan @ 04:53pm

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

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

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

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

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