Monthly Archives: October 2012

Wilson State Park’s Switchgrass Bike Trail "Epic"

Ruggedly scenic shore of Wilson Reservoir perfect mountain bike trail setting

The Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail at Wilson State Park was recently given an “Epic Award” from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) at the organization’s World Summit in Santa FeN.M. According to IMBA’s website, “Switchgrass Trail: With over 20 miles of twisting trails, this destination has something for everyone, from beginners to hammerheads.”

Wilson State Park is located on the shores of Wilson Reservoir 20 miles east of Russell. The park and surrounding landscape features rugged prairie and sandstone outcroppings; a perfect place for challenging mountain bike trails. The Switchgrass Bike Trail begins at the trailhead in the Switchgrass parking lot of the Hell Creek State Park area. The trail winds for about 24 miles through the pristine Smoky Hills grasslands along the shores of one of Kansas’ most scenic lakes. Novice riders will enjoy an easy, but beautiful ride of just more than 5 miles.

The Switchgrass Trail is the product of an all-volunteer effort by local mountain bike enthusiasts and the Kansas Trail Council (KTC). It started in 1994 as a 6-mile loop built by a group of local mountain bikers from Great Bend. Since 2004, it has been one of 17 trails coordinated and maintained by the KTC. In 2006, a Federal Recreational Trails Program grant was used to extend the Switchgrass Trail and purchase equipment.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit educational association with a mission to create, enhance and preserve great mountain biking experiences. The Kansas Trails Council is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the development and enjoyment of Kansas trails.

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge to Host Buffalo Auction

Surplus animals from display herd to be auctioned

Have you ever wanted your very own pet buffalo? Actually they don’t make good pets because they’re cantankerous and really difficult to house train. However, if you’ve ever thought about owning or eating a buffalo, more correctly called bison, here’s your chance. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will auction off surplus buffalo at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 beginning at 11 a.m.

The annual auction usually draws a wide range of spectators and buyers from all over the country. Attendees get a chance to see one of the icons of the Great Plains up close and personal. Interest in bison ranching has grown over the years, and the meat is lean and flavorful. Prices paid per animal range from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on market demand, condition, sex and age of the animal.

Ninety-eight buffalo from the KDWPT display herd at Maxwell will be sold. Surplus bison from this and other display herds are sold each fall as available habitat can support only a finite number of animals. The 2012 auction ticket will include 25 adult cows, 8 yearling heifers, 19 heifer calves, 12 yearling bulls, 12 2-year-old bulls and 22 bull calves. Bison over 1-year-old will be brucellosis and tuberculosis tested and accompanied by a health certificate. Heifer calves will be vaccinated for brucellosis and certificates issued.

The sale will take place rain or shine. The corrals are located 6 miles north and 1¼ miles west of Canton. The Friends of Maxwell will have food and drink concessions available.

Cash and personal checks (if accompanied by a notarized authorization letter from the issuing bank) will be accepted. KDWPT reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Buyers must pick up the bison the day of the sale or make arrangements with the refuge manager prior to the sale. Animals become the buyer’s responsibility upon settlement on sale day. Load-out assistance is available until dusk the day of the sale. Stock racks and trailers should be covered or lined because bison transport best in dark conditions.

For more information about the sale, contact Maxwell Wildlife Refuge manager Cliff Peterson at (620) 628-4592, or KDWPT’s Region 4 Office in Wichita at (316) 683-8069.

Goal Set: 10 Million More Kids Outdoors in Three Years

A GENERATION AGO, kids spent hours playing outside each day. Now it’s down to minutes. To combat today’s “indoor childhood” trend, National Wildlife Federation has set a goal—made public earlier this month—to get 10 million more kids outdoors for regular time in nature during the next three years.

NWF has a three-pronged approach to achieve this goal: educate, inspire and partner with the major influencers of children’s time: 1) parents and caregivers, 2) child-serving institutions, and 3) policy makers. Through an unprecedented program of public media education, signature events and online outreach, parents—with a special focus on mothers—will gain the knowledge and tools they need to incorporate regular outdoor time into their children’s daily lives. We will encourage child-serving institutions, such as schools, day care centers, city park departments, after-school programs and neighborhood YMCAs, to incorporate regular time for outdoor learning and play. We will advocate for local, state and national policy makers to pass innovative new policies that help children, youth and families spend regular time outdoors.

“The goal is a natural outgrowth of NWF’s core mission and the mission of our affiliates to protect wildlife for our children’s future,” says Meri-Margaret Deoudes, NWF’s vice president of strategic alliances and special events. “In meeting this goal, we will help parents, schools and policy makers create a generation of healthier, happier and more eco-minded children who will safeguard our wildlife and wild places.”

The 10 million kids outdoors campaign encourages kids to get outside to explore, play, and learn for at least 90 minutes per week. This outdoor time excludes time spent in organized sports, which while beneficial, does not provide children the same benefits as outdoor play and learning in green spaces. Research shows that spending time outside helps kids grow lean and strong, boosts mood, improves school performance and creates a stronger tie to the natural world.

“Our affiliate network has been a leader in reconnecting kids with nature for decades,” says Kevin Coyle, NWF’s vice president for education and training. “Whether running summer camps to get youth hunting and fishing or engaging families for outdoor learning at a nature center, NWF affiliates will play a critical role moving forward.”

Working towards the 10 million kids goal will help the entire NWF family reach broader audiences and build powerful new allies to grow the conservation movement. NWF is currently developing national partnerships around the goal with organizations like the YMCA of the USA and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). In fact, just last week NRPA announced its intent to enlist 1,000 park agencies in the effort.

PUBLIC INVITED TO COMMENT ON LESSER PRAIRIE CHIICKEN PLAN


Public meetings scheduled for comments and input on management plan
PRATT–The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is participating in a five-state effort to develop a range-wide conservation plan to address the decline of the lesser prairie chicken in Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and Colorado. The conservation plan is intended to benefit the wildlife resources, people, and economies of these states by providing a framework for effective lesser prairie chicken management and habitat improvement that will increase the range-wide population of lesser prairie chickens. The plan will emphasize incentives and tools that encourage landowners to partner with agencies in conservation efforts while achieving their land use needs. More information about the planning process can be found at the project website: http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/p.aspx?tabid=275
KDWPT has contracted with the Ecosystem Management Research Institute (www.emri.org) to prepare the lesser prairie chicken conservation plan for Kansas. Planners are now consulting with landowners, stakeholders, the general public, agency managers and scientists in developing the plan. Public input is important.
Public meetings will be held in the southwest Kansas communities listed below on Nov. 13-15, 2012. Planners will present information about lesser prairie chicken population and habitat goals for Kansas and propose areas in the state where conservation efforts will be focused. A primary purpose of each community meeting will be to discuss the best ways to encourage landowners, industry and others to voluntarily partner with state and federal management agencies to improve habitat for lesser prairie chickens, while also achieving their land use and development needs. Draft planning products will be posted on the project website in advance of the meetings.
The public meeting schedule is:
November 13: Ness City, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Ness County Historical Bank Building, 106 W Main (corner Pennsylvania and Main).
November 14: Ulysses, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., 4-H Building at Civic Center Complex, 1000 W Patterson.
November 15: Greensburg, 7 p.m.-9 p.m., Community Center (by fairgrounds), 720 N Bay
Written comments regarding the lesser prairie chicken conservation plan for Kansas are also welcome. Comments will be accepted through Friday, December 14 via email to [email protected] or mail to Jan Caulfield, 114 S. Franklin St., Ste. 203, Juneau, AK 99801
To receive updates during the planning process, please email Jan Caulfield at [email protected] with your contact information, including name, organization (if applicable), address, phone, and email address.

Kansas Quail Initiative pdf

KQI is a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism project designed to reverse declining bobwhite quail populations at a landscape level. The project includes the designation of two large quail management focus areas in the eastern half of the state where landowners will receive 100 percent cost-share to improve habitat on their land. The goal is to increase quail numbers by 50 percent and to increase suitable quail habitat by 5 percent in each focus area. For an excellent presentation by the KDWP&T visit:

http://www.kswildlife.org/QIProgramSupport.pdf

National Wildlife Refuge Week

A Message from Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

More than a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside a tiny bird rookery off the coast of Florida, Pelican Island, as the first national wildlife refuge. Since then the refuge system has grown to become one of our greatest treasures with refuges from the Caribbean to the Pacific, from Maine to Alaska.

This week (Oct. 14-20) we celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week with special events for the public to enjoy at our 560 national wildlife refuges from coast to coast.

Our refuges include examples of every type of ecosystem in North America including boreal forests, wetlands; deserts, grasslands; arctic tundra and remote islands. They provide habitat for 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 species of reptiles and amphibians, and more than 1,000 species of fish and countless invertebrates and plants.

Under President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, we have added nine new refuges in the past four years, including our twelfth urban refuge, Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque, just last month.

These special places provide not only vital habitat for wildlife but also places for people to hike, bike, hunt, fish, paddle, watch wildlife or otherwise connect with nature. They also support jobs and economic growth. In fact, 47 million people visit refuges each year and spend $2.1 billion to local economies, supporting tens of thousands of local jobs.

During National Wildlife Refuge Week, refuges everywhere will hold events ranging from open houses, to behind-the-scenes nature tours with refuge staff, to opportunities to see birds of prey up close or tag a monarch butterfly.
Wherever you live, a national wildlife refuge is almost certain to be nearby. There is at least one refuge in every state and one within driving distance of every major city.

You can find a list of Refuge Week events on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

So enjoy a walk on the wild side this week and connect with nature at a national wildlife refuge near you.

Clean Water Act 101

The Clean Water Act:  Protecting and Restoring our Nation’s Waters

Forty years ago, in the midst of a national concern about untreated sewage, industrial and toxic discharges, destruction of wetlands, and contaminated runoff, the principal law to protect the nation’s waters was passed. Originally enacted in 1948 to control water pollution primarily based on state and local efforts, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, or Clean Water Act (CWA), was totally revised in 1972 to give the Act its current shape. The CWA set a new national goal “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters”, with interim goals that all waters be fishable and swimmable where possible. The Act embodied a new federal-state partnership, where federal guidelines, objectives and limits were to be set under the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, while states, territories and authorized tribes would largely administer and enforce the CWA programs, with significant federal technical and financial assistance. The Act also gave citizens a strong role to play in protecting and restoring waters.
The CWA specifies that all discharges into the nation’s waters are unlawful unless authorized by a permit and sets baseline, across-the-board technology-based controls for municipalities and industry. It requires all dischargers to meet additional, stricter pollutant controls where needed to meet water quality targets and requires federal approval of these standards. It also protects wetlands by requiring “dredge and fill” permits. The CWA authorizes federal financial assistance to states and municipalities to help achieve these national water goals. The Act has robust enforcement provisions and gives citizens a strong role to play in watershed protection. Congress has revised the Act, most notably in 1987, where it established a comprehensive program for controlling toxic pollutants and stormwater discharges, directed states to develop and implement voluntary nonpoint pollution management programs, and encouraged states to pursue groundwater protection. Notwithstanding these improvements, the 1972 statute, its regulatory provisions and the institutions that were created 40 years ago, still make up the bulk of the framework for protecting and restoring the nation’s rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and coastal waters. (Link opens in a pop-up window)

Extensive information can be viewed at http://water.epa.gov/action/cleanwater40/cwa101.cfm.

Today is the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource. Every person deserves clean water – it is vital for our health, communities, environment and economy. We have made great progress in reducing pollution during the past 40 years. But many challenges remain and we must work together to protect clean water for our families and future generations. Everyone has an impact on the water and we are all responsible for making a difference. Water is worth it.

For a current account of what people all over the country are doing to safe-guard our nation’s water, visit this excellent webpage of the EPA:

http://water.epa.gov/action/cleanwater40/