Monthly Archives: December 2012

Youth Essay Contest Topic: Safe Turkey Hunting

2013 youth essay contest

Gun Giveaway & Guided Hunt

ATTENTION YOUNG HUNTERS: Write a story and win a guided spring turkey hunt, a new turkey shotgun, and a turkey hunting vest loaded with turkey hunting supplies!  This is the eleventh year of this contest and past winners have all been successful at harvesting a gobbler.  To commemorate the eleventh year of this contest, the Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter will be providing a new shotgun to the author of the winning essay.  The contest is co-sponsored by the Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, The Lyon County Hunter Education Program, Bluestem Farm and Ranch Supply of Emporia and the Conrad Carlson Charitable Foundation.  Youth 16 years and younger from Chase, Coffey, Greenwood, Lyon, Morris, Osage, Wabaunsee, and Woodson counties are eligible to participate.

JAKES stands for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics, and Sportsmanship.  Many of the National Wild Turkey Federation programs are also aimed at creating safe, knowledgeable, and responsible hunters.  2013 Topic: There are several reasons any kind of hunting could be dangerous.  In 500 words or less, what advice would you give turkey hunters for a safe spring hunt?

Participants must have completed a hunter safety course and understand what it means to be a safe and responsible turkey hunter, be available to hunt during the 2013 spring turkey season, and, if chosen, must purchase a Kansas spring turkey hunting permit.  The lucky winner will receive a guided spring turkey hunt during the 2013 Spring Turkey Hunting Season.  The winner also will receive a turkey hunting vest and other turkey hunting items donated by Bluestem Farm and Ranch Supply of Emporia.  Please submit your essay, including your name, age, address and phone number to Gib Rhodes, 1643 360thSt., Madison, KS 66860 or Shelley Sparks, 1789 Road B5, Emporia, KS 66801 by March 5th, 2013.  The winner of the contest will be notified by March 15th, 2013.  Lodging will be provided if the winner is not from Emporia or the surrounding area.  A parent or guardian is welcome and encouraged to accompany the youth on this hunt.  If you have any questions regarding the essay contest or hunt, please feel free to contact Gib Rhodes at (620) 437-2012. 

12th Annual Spring Turkey Hunting Clinic

Presented by: The Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Hunter Education Program

When: Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Where: Camp Alexander, Emporia, KS

Who: Anyone interested in learning how to become a better turkey

hunter is invited, especially youth

Duration: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Cost: FREE

  Come listen to calling tips and other expert turkey hunting advice

  Bluestem Farm & Ranch of Emporia will have on display at the clinic all of the latest

    turkey hunting equipment available at their retail store

  Bluestem Farm & Ranch also will be holding a drawing for a loaded turkey vest

  Lunch will be provided

  The clinic will consist of several educational sections dealing with all aspects of

    becoming a successful turkey hunter including:

  • Turkey Calling and Locator Calling

  • Scouting / Roosting

  • Wild Turkey Biology and Management

  • Shotgun Hunting for Wild Turkeys

  • Bowhunting for Wild Turkeys

  • Turkey Hunting Equipment

  • Turkey Hunting Safety

  Please RSVP by March 9th with the total number of children and adults

   attending, as well as the t-shirt sizes for children (Limited to 150 attendees. Don’t put it off because we do fill up quickly! Last year we filled up by Jan. 28th!).

  For more information or to reserve a spot, please contact:

   Gib Rhodes at (620) 437-2012

Evolution of the U.S. Farm Bill

The Largest Source of Conservation Funding

Farm Bill Conservation Programs and Technical Assistance funding dwarf all other conservation funding sources.

The Playa Lakes Joint Venture (PLJV) spends considerable time working with Farm Bill

conservation programs—from conservation delivery and policy staff who spend time working with partners to ensure more effective on-the-ground application of the programs to the science staff who develop biologically-based decision support tools to site these programs for the most effective and efficient outcomes. While we wait for congress to approve a new Farm Bill sometime in the next congressional session, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the history of the conservation programs supported in this important legislation.

In 1933, as America was in the midst of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl was devastating farms across the Great Plains, the first Farm Bill was signed, guaranteeing commodity prices didn’t fall below a certain level. At this time, one in four Americans lived on farms (now less than one in 50); farm income had dropped by 52 percent; and by 1933, farm income was 40 percent of urban incomes. The goal of the bill was to get farmers to take land out of production and reduce the crop surplus while increasing prices.

As the Dust Bowl continued to drive farmers from the plains, soil conservation practices became the focus of the next three bills (from 1935-1938). The Soil Conservation Service was established in 1935 to oversee programs intended to protect land from soil erosion. Social and economic policy analysts determined that conservation was in the public interest and, therefore, the public should contribute to the farmers’ costs. Farmers were paid to replace soil-depleting crops (including corn, cotton and wheat) with soil-conserving crops (grass, legume or cover crop). Although the intent was to reduce surplus crops, surpluses grew because farmers enrolled their poorest ground in the conservation program while using technology to increase yields on their best land.

During World War II, the increasing world market led to higher commodity prices, and the government developed huge surpluses to ensure national security. Conservation was put on hold as farmers cashed in on high prices. When the war ended, the demand for commodities shrank causing greater surpluses, which the 1949 and 1954 Farm Bills did little to control; conservation was not addressed in these bills either.

In 1956, the Soil Bank was created, which took 29 million acres out of production and put them into practices for soil, water, forest and wildlife conservation; in exchange, landowners received rental payments. The land retirement programs (acreage reserve and conservation reserve) aimed to reduce erosion, support farm incomes, and reduce commodity price support payments by reducing supply and raising market prices.

Farm productivity, and therefore surpluses, continued to grow in the 1960s as conservation payments were used to improve soil quality and increase yields. The 1961 Farm Bill attempted to remove more corn and grain sorghum out of production by paying farmers to put the land in conservation. But, in the 1970s, conservation took a backseat to growing crops as American farmers were encouraged to “feed the world”; this was a setback to the past 40 years of conservation efforts as farmers tilled up their conservation acreage and cashed in on the high commodity prices. As the decade came to an end, the USDA became more concerned with water pollution from sediment runoff and the overall quality of water.

The 1980s saw a shift in farm policy, with more programs focusing on water, air, and wildlife conservation rather than supply control or increasing the quality and quantity of production. The current iterations of the Farm Bill started in 1985, which included the creation of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). More than 36 million acres of highly erodible land and other biologically sensitive and important areas were put into CRP, but the program still needed to evolve before it truly left supply control and income support behind.

Farm Bills of the 1990s introduced more of today’s conservation programs, including the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). In 1994, the Soil Conservation Service was renamed the Natural Resources Conservation Service. With its new name, it also had a more focused goal of maximizing environmental benefits per dollar expended rather than ensuring all counties participated; funds were more likely to be distributed to conservation priority areas that were determined as environmentally critical.

By 2008, environmental enhancement was finally more important than productivity and supply control, partially due to increasing commodity prices. There was a fundamental change in environmental spending from maximizing the number of acres conserved to maximizing the environmental benefits for the money spent. The Farm Bills of this decade increased funding for EQIP, WHIP, CRP and WRP, and created the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) and Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP). Additionally, NRCS Chief Dave White created more than a dozen special initiatives under the EQIP program—such as the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative, Ogallala Aquifer Initiative, and in the Great Basin region, the Sage Grouse Initiative—to focus conservation efforts on geographic areas and deliver specialized practices where needed most.

As of September 30, 2012, the current Farm Bill has expired. Programs whose authorization expires along with the bill—including the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Grassland Reserve Program, and the Conservation Reserve Program—cannot enroll new acres or contracts until a new Farm Bill is authorized sometime next year. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program are authorized through 2014, and, therefore, are funded by the six-month Continuing Resolution at FY 2012 levels through March 27, 2013.

We hope a compromise agreement between the bipartisan Senate passed Farm Bill and the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill will be found and approved in 2012. If this doesn’t happen and an extension of the current Farm Bill is passed, the new Congress taking office in January may have to begin the process again, with lower amounts of money available to fund these vital conservation programs.

The historical information about the Farm Bill from 1930 to 2002 was summarized from the article History and Outlook for Farm Bill Conservation Programs by Zachary Cain and Stephen Lovejoy.

Agriculture Secretary Announces Pilot Project to Improve Kansas Farm Ponds

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on December 13 a new pilot program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Kansas and Colorado to remove sediments from ponds to help provide more water for livestock or for irrigation. Part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the pilot provides an additional conservation option for producers who face drought-related issues on their agricultural operations.

Also, for the current fiscal year, NRCS has made available over $16 million through the EQIP program to farmers and ranchers for water conservation, practices, and wildlife habitat that have been affected by the drought. Those funds are in addition to the over $27 million provided to farmers ranchers in 22 states for drought mitigation during fiscal year 2012.

            At this time, EQIP is a continuous sign-up process. For more information on the new project contact the Kansas Natural Resource Conservation Service state office at 760 S. Broadway Blvd. Salina, KS 67401-4604 785-823-4500 or contact your local NRCS county office.

Start the New Year with a "First Day Hike"

A New Year’s Day hike is a great way to welcome 2013

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has announced that five Kansas state parks will participate in the America’s State Parks “First Day Hikes” on New Year’s Day 2013. Each guided hike will offer individuals and families opportunities to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on the first day of the year.

Events are free at all locations. Except for Kaw River State Park, all participating state parks will require an annual or daily park permit for entry to the park, which will be available at the park office before the hikes begin. For all hikes, participants should wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and bring binoculars, camera, snacks and water bottle. State park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average 1 to 2 miles in length.

“I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year than hiking through one of our beautiful Kansas state parks,” said Linda Craghead, KDWPT Assistant Secretary for Parks and Tourism. “Hiking on one of the many maintained state park trails promotes a healthy lifestyle, is a great family activity and blends stunning winter landscapes with opportunities to see a variety of wildlife.”

Information about Kansas state parks is available online at The following hikes are scheduled:

Kaw River State ParkTopeka

A 1.5- to 2-mile hike of easy to moderate difficulty. The event begins at 1 p.m. Meet at the Region 2 Office of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, located at 300 SW Wanamaker Road, Topeka (from the 6th Street/Wanamaker Road roundabout, proceed north on Wanamaker and follow the signs). The route will be on natural and gravel-surfaced trails through oak/hickory woodlands near the Kansas River. Hikers may see different types of small wildlife and habitats. Contact the park office at 785-271-7346 for information.

Tuttle Creek State Park, Tuttle Creek Reservoir, Manhattan

An easy 1.5-mile hike. The event begins at 1 p.m. Meet at the state park office. Visitors can expect to see waterfowl, and there’s a good chance to spot bald eagles, as well. Contact the park office at 785-539-7941 for information.

Eisenhower State Park, Melvern Reservoir, 30 miles south of Topeka, 3 miles west of US-75

A 2-mile hike of moderate difficulty along a loop of the Crooked Knee Horse Trail. Adventurous hikers can opt to walk the entire 17-mile trail. The event begins at 10 a.m. Meet at the Crooked Knee Trailhead, located west of the park office. The trail is not ADA accessible. Participants may see native and migratory wildlife, including waterfowl and deer. Park staff will serve hot soup to participants after the hike. Dogs are welcome at the event, but they must be kept on a lead no more than 10 feet long. Contact the park office at 785-528-4102 for information.

Cross Timbers State Park, Toronto Reservoir, 12 miles west of Yates Center, south of US-54

An easy 1.25-mile hike on Overlook Trail. The hike begins at 1:30 p.m. Meet at the Overlook Trailhead, on the east side of the dam. Hikers will have opportunities to see eagles, deer, and lichens and discuss the Cross Timbers Ecosystem with the guide. Contact the park office at 620-637-2213 for information.

Elk City State ParkElk City Reservoir, 5 miles northwest of Independence

A 1-mile hike of easy to moderate difficulty along the Green Thumb Nature Trail. Hike begins at 1 p.m. Meet at the park office. Hikers may see small wildlife such as bald eagles, waterfowl and deer. Contact the park office at 620-331-6295 for information.

The guided First Day Hikes are sponsored by America’s State Parks. First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike at a state park. First Day Hikes are a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family. There are 645 First Day Hikes scheduled across the United States.
For more information on the America’s State Parks First Day Hikes, visit

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Initiates Process to Consider Lesser Prairie-Chicken As "Threatened" Species Under the Endangered Species Act.

                             Important Announcement
     Based on scientific evidence that the lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat are in decline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to list the Lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Lesser prairie-chicken is a grassland bird known from southeastern Colorado, western Kansas, eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and the Texas Panhandle.

     “Regardless of whether the lesser prairie-chicken ultimately requires protection under the ESA, its decline is a signal that our native grasslands are in trouble,” said Dr. Benjamin Tuggle, Regional Director for the Service’s Southwest Region. “We know that these grasslands support not only dozens of native migratory bird and wildlife species, but also farmers, ranchers and local communities across the region.”

     The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is seeking information and comments from the public regarding the lesser prairie-chicken and this proposed rule. Members of the public and scientific community are therefore encouraged to review and comment on the proposal during the 90-day public comment period beginning November 30, 2012.

     For more detailed information regarding the proposed rule to list the Lesser prairie-chicken as threatened; and, to view the public hearings roster, see LPC_ProposedListingFAQsFinal pdf (2).pdf.

Upcoming Kansas Prescribed Burning Workshops

Fire safety and burning techniques are the priority topics of the upcoming Prescribed Burning Workshops scheduled for January and February.

            Carol Blocksome, Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University (KSU), Manhattan, said that these popular workshops are a continuation of a multi-agency effort to inform producers about prescribed burning.  It is evident from these workshops that producers need and want more information and education on how to conduct a safe and successful prescribed burn.

            “Safe burning requires proper planning, education, and training,” she said.

            “Producers may want to burn native and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grassland to improve vegetative quality, control weeds, manage for wildlife, or fulfill CRP contractual obligations,” said Blocksome.

            “I would encourage any producer who is thinking of burning grassland in Kansas to attend one of these workshops,” Blocksome said.

            There is a registration charge to attend the workshops, which covers the cost of handouts and a notebook, and in some cases, a meal. RSVP deadline is a week prior to the workshop date.  For more information, please contact your office listed below.

            Prescribed Burning workshops are being held at the locations listed below.  The content of all the workshops is very similar, so producers can attend the most convenient location.

            Agenda topics are:

Reasons for Burning

Notification, Regulations, and Permits



Using a Burn Contractor and Burning Assistance

Equipment, Hazards, and Firebreaks

Planning and Conducting a Burn

            Presenters include representatives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), Kansas Forest Service (KFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Weather Service (NWS), KSU, as well as local fire and emergency management staff and local producers with burn experience.  Presenters vary by workshop, but all will be presenting essentially the same information.

            Workshops are hosted by local conservation districts, Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) groups, Kansas local fire departments and emergency management personnel, KFS, KDWP, KSU Extension, producer groups, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies in Kansas–FSA and NRCS. Host agency varies by workshop.

Workshop Dates           County(ies)                   Call for More Information

December 5, 2012         Trego                           Jessica Wesley  785-743-2011

January 3, 2013             Jackson                                    Roberta Spencer  785-364-4638

January 10, 2013           Crawford                      Randy Bennett  620-724-6227

January 23, 2013           Pottawatomie                Austin Sexten  785-457-3319

February 28, 2013          Shawnee/Douglas          Judy Boltman  785-267-5721 ext-3

To Be Determined         Barber                         Ken Brunson  620-388-3768

To Be Determined         Kearney                       Mark Goudy  620-355-7911

            For more information about developing a prescribed burn plan for native grass or acres enrolled in the CRP, contact your local USDAService Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the Internet at  Follow us on Twitter at NRCS_Kansas.  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

How Natural Resources May Be Impacted by the "Fiscal Cliff"

by Outdoor Hub Reporters

Radio airwaves, TV stations and written news sources have been teeming with talk of the impending “fiscal cliff” that may slide theUnited States back into recession and raise unemployment rates. Yet, rarely are the country’s natural resources a part of this talk. To remedy that, Mother Nature Network took a look at just what sort of effect the fiscal cliff (or the laws that pertain to the fiscal cliff) may have on national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, public lands, oceans, the coastline, and environmental research.

First, what is the “fiscal cliff?” The phrase refers to a number of laws under the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the Bush tax cuts which lowered taxes and prevented the United States from sovereign default. The “cliff” is the slew of budget cuts and tax hikes all set to hit at the same time on January 1 if the president and Congress do not draft another plan to avoid the looming changes.

Mother Nature Network paints a grim outlook for the future of natural resources if a new plan is not agreed upon by Congress and the president.

The White House estimates that “the National Park Service (NPS) would likely have to close some national parks, campgrounds and visitor centers.” Park rangers at the NPS may face a reduction in staff, while National Wildlife Refuge System scientists could lose 200 positions and law enforcement would be cut by 15 percent.

More job loss and weaker management of wildlife, wildfires, man-made forest infrastructure (such as roads and lodging) would suffer from decreased maintenance, many permits may go unprocessed and invasive species may increase. According to the National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) fiscal cliff report, budget cuts could damage development in parks and other public lands across the country as well as cause permanent loss of recreation access in some places.

Other threats include ecological damage to coastlines and oceans because of the decreased ability of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect these areas.

Read the full article by Russell McLendon on the Mother Nature Network by clicking here.

Trail Camera Captures Mountain Lion in Stafford County

Ninth Kansas mountain lion confirmed in modern times

A deer hunter who was using a remote trail camera to scout for deer in Stafford County was surprised recently when he plugged the SD card in and found the image of a mountain lion. He hadn’t checked the camera for several weeks, and the photo was taken in October, but there was no doubt about the identification. A Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism wildlife biologist visited the site Nov. 16 and confirmed the photo’s validity. This is the first report documented in Kansas since last January when tracks of a mountain lion were found in Washington County.

The Stafford County lion is the ninth to be officially confirmed in Kansas since 2007. While there have been many sightings reported, KDWPT staff investigate if evidence, such as tracks, a photo, or cached kill, is present. According to ongoing research by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, dispersing mountain lions, which are primarily young males, feed mostly on medium-sized animals such as raccoons, raptors, coyotes, and turkeys. They feed on deer less frequently, which take days to consume and likely hinder their movement across the landscape as they search of the opposite sex and an area in which to establish a permanent home range. There is no evidence of a resident population of mountain lions in Kansas.

The use of remote, motion-triggered cameras by deer hunters to monitor deer in their hunting areas has become common in recent years. These cameras have been responsible for five of the nine Kansas mountain lion confirmations.

Tourism Ad Campaign Touts Kansas

Study shows 80:1 return on investment from advertising campaign

Some people think Kansas is a well-kept secret, but the Division of Tourism of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) doesn’t keep quiet about trumpeting the virtues of our state. According to an independent study, the state’s “There’s No Place Like Kansas” marketing campaign generated 133,400 additional visitors to Kansas and contributed $73.5 million to the Kansas economy, yet cost only $915,400 – a return on investment (ROI) of $80 for every dollar spent. The KDWPT Division of Tourism directed the campaign, and an independent research company, H2R Market Research, conducted the study.

The campaign ran between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. It used television, print, online and digital advertisements and reached 1.84 million people in seven states: NebraskaMissouri (including St. Louis),ArkansasOklahomaColorado and Iowa. A sample of the television ads can be viewed on YouTube at

“This campaign focused on the unique and surprising experiences visitors can enjoy when they visitKansas. The study shows that investing in tourism marketing pays big dividends and that tourism is an important part of the Kansas economy,” said KDWPT Secretary Robin Jennison.

The campaign did not spend state general taxes. Instead, it was funded with dollars from Economic Development Initiative Funds (EDIF) generated through the Kansas Lottery and eight community partners that contributed $20,000 each: Dodge City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB); Hutchinson CVB; Kansas City CVB; Lawrence CVB; Manhattan CVB; Visit Salina; Visit Topeka and Go Wichita.

“We believe it is essential to partner with statewide industry leaders to maximize the many and varied programs of the Kansas Tourism Division,” said Becky Blake, Kansas Tourism Director. “Our advertising partners help stretch our limited funds, enabling all of us to create excitement about Kansas far beyond the state’s borders.”

“Based on advertising effectiveness studies we have conducted over the last three years for state tourism offices and destination marketing organizations, Kansas’ ROI of 80:1 is well above the industry average,” said Jerry Henry, president of H2R and widely-respected expert with nearly 30 years of travel and leisure research.

The Kansas tourism industry employs one of every nine Kansas citizens in jobs that stay in the state and can’t be sent to another state or oversees. Tourism is the third largest private sector employer in Kansas.

For more information or a summary of the report, visit, or call 785-296-2009. FindKansas on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TravelKS.