Daily Archives: October 31, 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.