Monthly Archives: January 2013

Ogallala Aquifer Initiative

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) inKansas will provide approximately $1.5 million to conserve the water in the Ogallala Aquifer through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI).  Applications are accepted on a continuous basis; however, to be considered for fiscal year 2013 funds, the application cutoff date is February 15, 2013.  The NRCS will fund this initiative through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

            “Water quantity is a high priority resource concern under EQIP in Kansas,” said Eric B. Banks, State Conservationist for NRCS.  “Agriculture producers have the opportunity with the additional funding to implement water-saving practices.  This allows them to implement conservation practices such as irrigation water management, crop rotations, and replacing inefficient gravity irrigation systems.”

            Much of the High Plains region relies on the Ogallala for water but the water in the Ogallala Aquifer is diminishing because of widespread irrigation use in the High Plains states.

            The Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, is a vast, yet shallow underground water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States.  It is one of the world’s largest aquifers and covers an area in portions of eight states:  ColoradoKansasNebraskaNew Mexico,OklahomaSouth DakotaWyoming, and Texas.

Financial assistance is available through the OAI for producers considering converting from irrigated cropland to dryland cropland, as well as assistance for more efficient irrigation systems and management.  All participants must meet EQIP eligibility requirements.  In Kansas, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for conservation practices related to OAI.

            Sign-up Information

To sign an application for OAI stop by your local USDA Service Center and visit with the NRCS staff.  For more information about OAI and other natural resources conservation programs, please contact your local NRCS office or conservation district office.  The office is located at your local USDAService Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet  More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at

Lesser Prairie-chicken Initiative Works to Improve Lesser Habitat

Signup through February 15, 2013

Eric B. Banks, State Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Kansas, announced an application period cutoff date for participation in a multi-state initiative designed to improve the lesser prairie-chicken (LEPC) habitat.   Applications are accepted on a continuous basis; however, to be considered for fiscal year 2013 funds, the application cutoff date is February 15, 2013.  The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI) promotes the overall health of grazing lands and the long-term sustainability of ranching operations in ColoradoKansasNew MexicoOklahoma, and Texas

            “Over the past three years, the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative has succeeded in improving and increasing lesser prairie-chicken habitat acres in all five states,” said Banks. 

            Kansas received an allocation for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative for fiscal year 2013 of $3 million.  This initiative offers financial assistance for implementing necessary conservation practices for lesser prairie-chicken habitat and development of efficient grazing management systems,” said Banks.

            Funds through this initiative provides producers an opportunity to improve the LEPC habitat while promoting the overall health of grazing lands and the long-term sustainability of Kansas ranching.

            Expired or expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields in permanent cover that may benefit LEPC habitat may also be eligible for funding.

            The LPCI is available in 36 Kansas counties:  Barber, Clark, Comanche, Edwards, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Gove, Graham, Grant, Gray, Greeley, Hamilton, Haskell, Hodgeman, Kearny, Kiowa, Lane, Logan, Meade, Morton, Ness, Pawnee, Pratt, Rush, Scott, Seward, Sheridan, Sherman, Stafford, Stanton, Stevens, Thomas, Trego, Wallace, and Wichita. 

            Interested agriculture producers must meet eligibility requirements to qualify.  The unique circumstances and concerns of interested historically underserved ranchers are also addressed by offering a higher payment rate for them.

For more information visit the Kansas NRCS web page  or contact your local USDA Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at 

NRCS and Three Groundwater Management Districts

NRCS and Three Groundwater Management Districts Partner through Agricultural Water Enhancement Program

Application Cutoff Date February 15, 2013

Eric B. Banks, State Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Kansas, announced that irrigators in the three project areas have until February 15, 2013, to apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP) at their local NRCS office. This program is available in southwest and southcentral Kansasin three designated priority areas to irrigators who are eligible to conserve water and improve water quality on agricultural working lands through AWEP.  Through this program, the USDA  and conservation partners work together to efficiently use additional resources and services.

“Through AWEP, NRCS is working hard with our Groundwater District Management partners to support efforts to protect and preserve our water resources in Kansas,” said Banks. 

Producers in the project areas have until February 15, 2013, to apply for this program at their local NRCS office.

Project areas shown on a map at include the following ground water management districts (GMDs):

Equus Beds GMD No. 2 was funded for a five-year period beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2010.  NRCS and GMD No. 2 will address inefficient water use on irrigated land and aquifer overdraft through installation of more efficient irrigation systems and irrigation water management.  The eligible area includes the entire GMD No. 2.

Big Bend GMD No. 5 was funded for a five-year period beginning in FY 2010.  NRCS and GMD No. 5 will address inefficient water use with financial assistance to remove end guns and convert those acres to non-irrigated. The project area is in the Rattlesnake Creek Subbasin.

Southwest Kansas GMD No. 3 was funded for a five-year period beginning in FY 2011.  NRCS and the GMD 3 will address water quantity resource concerns converting irrigated cropland to dryland cropland acres and reducing irrigation water use.  The eligible areas are located in parts of Finney, Ford, Grant, Gray, Haskell, Kearny, Meade, Morton, Seward, Stanton, and StevensCounties.

AWEP agreements provide assistance to producers following the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) regulations. All participants must meet EQIP eligibility requirements.

In Kansas, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for conservation practices related to AWEP.

In FY 2012, the NRCS obligated over $3.8 million in the AWEP project areas.

            For more information about AWEP and natural resources conservation programs, please contact your local NRCS office or conservation district office.  The office is located at your localUSDA Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at More information is also available on the Kansas Web site

Farm bill’s future tied to upcoming fiscal legislation

A new farm bill likely won’t be marked up until after Congress deals with a host of fiscal- and budget-related issues, top House agriculture lawmakers said January 16. Those include averting across-the-board spending cuts set to take place at the end of February, passing legislation to keep the government funded through the rest of the year and dealing with the debt ceiling.

Before the holidays, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) had been aiming for a Feb. 27 markup of a new farm bill, which funds conservation and energy initiatives as well as commodity subsidies and the national food stamp program.

“The lay of the land has shifted pretty dramatically in the last few weeks,” Lucas told reporters yesterday. “The challenges, the debt ceiling, [continuing resolution], sequestration coming up at the end of February — that makes it a really complicated time.”

Last year, a version of the bill languished in the House for several months after GOP leaders refused to bring it to a vote. The fiscal cliff deal signed into law at the beginning of this year provided a partial nine-month extension of 2008 legislation, forcing the House and Senate Agriculture committees to begin work this year on a new bill.

“I’ll know when the time is right when my political gut tells me it’s right. And I just can’t give you a better answer than that,” Lucas said when asked to be more specific on a markup date. “We’ve not been playing by the conventional rulebook on legislation for some time, for years now, so I’m just going to have to play it by ear.”

The delay in marking up and passing a farm bill could have devastating consequences, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) warned yesterday.

If work begins after the Congressional Budget Office releases its yearly estimates of what the bill costs, expected in March, the Agriculture committees will likely be dealing with less money from which to base a new bill.

More potentially damaging, Peterson said, would be if Congress or the White House digs into direct payments to look for savings for any of the fiscal-related legislation coming down the pipeline.

Direct payments, included in the farm bill, are subsidies given to farmers regardless of the actual acres that are planted in a given year. The nine-month extension provides $5 billion to continue them this year, and there are growing calls on both sides of the political aisle for using them to provide savings in fiscal legislation, Peterson said.

If the payments are eliminated before a new farm bill is written, that money wouldn’t be available to offset the continuation of other programs in the bill, Peterson warned. Those include energy, conservation, organic and other smaller programs.

“There wouldn’t be an energy title. There wouldn’t be a lot of things,” Peterson said. “I don’t know how you’d pass a bill, because what would happen, I would guess, is that the Republicans would make up for it out of food stamps. And then you’ll get a bill that you can’t conference with the Senate.”

Peterson also said he wasn’t sure he would vote for a farm bill in the first place without a written commitment from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring the legislation to a floor vote. On Jan. 3, Peterson sent a frustrated letter to Boehner with such a request and said yesterday that he hadn’t heard anything in response.

While Peterson said yesterday that he wouldn’t necessarily boycott a markup, he added that he “may not be particularly helpful” when it comes to passing the bill.

Last Chance to bag a Fall Turkey

Hunters have the remainder of January to hunt the 2012-2013 fall turkey season

The 2012-2013 fall turkey season is coming to a close, but not before hunters get one last chance to bag their late-season bird. From Jan. 14-31, hunters will have the opportunity to hunt turkey once more in any of the five open units. The next opportunity to hunt turkey won’t come again until the beginning of April, so it’s time to hit the blind one last time!

Fall permit holders can hunt Units 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 for fall turkey and may only hunt within the management unit printed on their permits. In addition, hunters must have a Kansas hunting license, unless exempt by law. Any hunter with a fall turkey permit can purchase as many as three turkey game tags during the fall season, valid in Units 2, 3, 5 and 6. During the fall season, both toms and hens may be taken.

The 2013 spring turkey season will begin with the archery, youth/disabled season, April 1-9, and the firearm season will run April 10 – May 31.

A limited number of spring turkey permits are allocated for Unit 4 (southwest Kansas) and will be available through online application. The deadline to apply for a Unit 4 spring turkey permit is Feb. 8, 2013. New this spring season, Unit 4 permits will also be valid in adjacent Units 1, 2 and 5.

2013 Spring turkey permits for Units 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 are now available for purchase both online or at any vendor location through May 30. In addition to a spring turkey permit, hunters may also purchase one turkey game tag, valid in Units 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. Hunters can save if they purchase the spring turkey permit/game tag combo, which is only available through March 31. After March 31, permit and game tags can be purchased separately at full price. Each spring permit and game tag allows the harvest of one bearded turkey.

For more information on turkey permits, including spring turkey fees or how to apply for a Unit 4 permit, and click “Hunting/Applications and Fees/Turkey.”


Trumpeter swan sightings are both uncommon and unforgettable

Trumpeter swan sightings have been reportedly recently in several Kansas counties, including Neosho,Montgomery, Sedgwick, and Douglas. The largest species of the swan family, trumpeter swans can grow to 60 inches long and have wing spans of nearly 8 feet. These migratory water birds have reportedly been seen on several large ponds and watershed lakes, as well as agricultural fields. Although trumpeter swan sightings are becoming increasingly common, this species was once on the brink of extinction.

In the mid 1800s, market hunters nearly wiped out the species, harvesting the swans for their skins. Skins were sold to companies that then turned them into powder puffs and women’s clothing accessories. It wasn’t until restoration efforts made by states to our north that trumpeter swan numbers began to increase.

“These birds are an excellent conservation success story,” said Ed Miller, nongame biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. “They have rebounded from a population low of 73 birds in the U.S.

Although similar in color to the other swan species native to North America, the tundra swan, the trumpeter is larger and has a distinct horn-like call, making it the loudest of all swimming birds. Tundra swans are more numerous than trumpeters, but winter along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and are uncommon visitors in Kansas. Trumpeter swans also have all black bills, unlike tundra swans that have a distinct yellow spot on their bill.

“A 30-pound, long-necked bird with an 8-foot wingspan that moves with grace is a memorable sight,” said Miller. He added that more sightings of this bird are predicted for the near future as trumpeter swan numbers slowly increase.

KDHE Issues Fish Consumption Advisories

Advisories provide guidelines for eating fish taken from certain locations

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) are issuing revised fish consumption advisories for 2013. The advisories identify types of fish or other aquatic animals that should be eaten in limited quantities or, in some cases, avoided altogether because of contamination. General advice and internet resources are also provided to aid the public in making informed decisions regarding the benefits, as well as the risks associated with eating locally caught fish from Kansas waters.


Bottom-feeding fish: buffalo, carp, carpsuckers, catfish (except flathead catfish), sturgeons, and suckers.

Predatory fish: black bass, crappie, drum, flathead catfish, perch, sunfish, white bass, wiper, striper, walleye, saugeye, and sauger.

Shellfish: mussels, clams, and crayfish.

General population: Men and women 18 years of age or older.

Sensitive populations: Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing and children age 17 or younger.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), perchlorate, chlordane, mercury, lead and cadmium: Toxic chemicals and heavy metals that pose serious health risks, particularly to fetuses and children. Developmental and neurological problems are some of the risks related to prolonged or repeated exposure.

Meal size (before cooking): Adults and children age 13 and older = 8 ounces; children age 6 to 12 = 4 ounces; children younger than 6 = 2 ounces.

Statewide Advisory

Sensitive populations should restrict consumption of all types of locally caught fish, including species of fish and waters not specifically covered by an advisory to one meal per week because of mercury. Sensitive Populations should restrict consumption of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass (black bass) to one meal per month because of mercury. The general public should restrict consumption of these species to one meal per week because of mercury.

Location Advisories:

Do not eat bottom-feeding fish taken in the Kansas River from Lawrence (below Bowersock Dam) downstream to Eudora at the confluence of the Wakarusa River (Douglas and Leavenworth counties) because of PCBs. Do not eat any form of aquatic life, including fish and shellfish, taken from Horseshoe Lake located in units 22 and 23 of the Mined Lands Wildlife Area (Cherokee County) because of perchlorate. Do not eat shellfish taken in the Spring River from the confluence of Center Creek to the Kansas/Oklahoma border (Cherokee County) because of lead and cadmium. Do not eat shellfish taken in Shoal Creek from the Missouri/Kansas border to Empire Lake (Cherokee County) because of lead and cadmium. Do not eat bottom-feeding fish taken from Cow Creek in Hutchinson and downstream to the confluence with the Arkansas River (Reno County) because of PCBs. Do not eat bottom-feeding fish taken in the Arkansas River from the Lincoln Street Dam in Wichita downstream to the confluence with Cowskin Creek near Belle Plaine (Sedgwick and Sumner counties) because of PCBs.

Restrict consumption of all types of fish to one meal per month from the Little Arkansas River from the MainStreet Bridge immediately west of Valley Center to the confluence with the Arkansas River in Wichita (Sedgwick County) because of mercury and PCBs.

Rescinded Advisory

Last year’s advisory for Blue River from U.S. 69 Highway to the Kansas/Missouri state line (Johnson County) has been rescinded. The one-meal-per-week advisory for all types of fish because of mercury has been superseded by the statewide mercury advisory for sensitive groups.

General advice for eating locally caught fish in Kansas

1. Sensitive populations should consider restricting their total mercury intake as related to both supermarket fish and locally caught species. Concerned parents and other persons may wish to consult with a physician about eating fish and mercury exposure.

2. Mercury exposure can be reduced by limiting the consumption of large predatory fish. Larger/older fish of all types are more likely to have higher concentrations of mercury.

3. Avoid the consumption of fish parts other than fillets, especially when eating bottom-feeding fish. Fatty internal organs tend to accumulate higher levels of fat-soluble contaminants such as chlordane and PCBs.

4. Consumers can reduce their ingestion of fat-soluble contaminants such as chlordane and PCBs by trimming fat from fillets, and cooking in a manner in which fat drips away from the fillet.

5. In water bodies where advisories or warnings related to harmful algae blooms have been applied, fish should be consumed in moderation and care taken to only consume skinless fillets. Avoid cutting into internal organs and as a precaution, rinse fillets with clean water prior to cooking or freezing.

For more information about KDHE’s Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program visit  

Winter Bird Feeder Survey Helps Track Song Bird Trends

Popular annual bird watchers’ event Jan. 17-20

If you’re a winter bird watcher, you can enjoy the birds at your feeder and provide valuable population data by participating in the 2013 Kansas Winter Bird Feeder Survey. In its most recent report on wildlife-related recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that more than 750,000 Kansans enjoyed watching wildlife around their homes. For many, wildlife watching means birds at a feeder.

The Winter Bird Feeder Survey is a collaborative effort of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), the Kansas Ornithological Society, and Kansas University Center for Science Education (KUSCIED). It is sponsored by KDWPT’s Chickadee Checkoff Program and helps biologists monitor songbird species.

This year, Kansas bird watchers are asked to choose two consecutive days during the time period of Jan. 17-20, and observe and record the number and species of birds visiting their backyard feeders. Watchers can report the results directly online at KUSCIED’s website,, or a survey form can be downloaded at the KDWPT website,, and mailed to the address listed on the form. Information gleaned from this survey helps KDWPT track songbird population trends and types of feed that are most attractive to backyard birds. This long-term survey was expanded several years ago through the University of Kansas to include surveys around the nation. Information is reported by state, so Kansas results are separate.

During the two days viewers choose, they record the times of day observed, list the numbers of each species seen, and describe their feeders using the online or printed form. In spaces provided, they list the highest number of each species seen together at any one time. For example, if 10 juncos are seen at 9 a.m., 11 at noon, and seven at 4 p.m., the number recorded is 11.

Observers are asked to count only during the two consecutive days and record only birds seen at their feeders, under their feeders, or in cover around their feeders. Birds that fly past a house and do not use feeding areas should not be counted.

For more information, call KDWPT at 620-672-5911.

Crappie Limit Reduced at Glen Elder Reservoir

Anglers reminded of crappie limit change at Glen Elder Reservoir

Officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) want anglers who fish Glen Elder Reservoir, also known as Waconda Lake, to be aware that the daily creel limit on crappie is now 20. Before Jan. 1, 2013, the daily creel limit on Glen Elder crappie was 50, which is the statewide creel limit, unless special regulations such as this are implemented.

The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission approved the new creel limit at a public meeting in October. Biologists made the recommendation after receiving public comments and entering harvest and sample data into a management model. The new limit should reduce overall harvest and spread harvest out among anglers. Few lakes in the Midwest can boast the quality of crappie fishing anglers have enjoyed in recent years at the 12,000-acre reservoir inMitchell County. And while April and May are generally thought to be the most productive months for crappie fishing, ice fishing for the delicious panfish can also be excellent. The 20-fish daily limit includes both white crappie and black crappie in combination. The possession limit is three times the daily creel.

Late-Season Hunts still on Tap

While the drought has left many bird hunters disappointed, late-season hunts can still be productive

It’s a mistake to overlook late-season hunting opportunities, even this year. Most of our hunting seasons will close in January, but many hunters may have already hung up their gear for the year because of disappointing conditions and bird populations. However, the late season still has hunting opportunities worth pursuing.

While the drought has left many shallow wetlands without water, waterfowl have been using reservoirs, and many northern-Kansas lakes have enough ducks and geese to provide good hunting opportunities. Mallards and Canada geese are the primary waterfowl present, and hunters who scout roosting, loafing and feeding areas can have excellent hunting in January.

The extended whitetail-only antlerless season opened Jan. 1 and runs through Jan. 13, 2013. The special season is open statewide and allows hunters to use any unfilled permit to take white-tailed antlerless deer, using any legal equipment. Unit restrictions listed on the permits are still in effect. While all hunters must have a permit that allows the harvest of an antlered deer before purchasing antlerless-only permits during the regular seasons, whitetail antlerless permits can be purchased over the counter by anyone during the extended season.

Unfilled either-sex permits and the first whitetail-only antlerless permits purchased are valid statewide, including department-managed lands. And hunters may purchase up to four additional whitetail antlerless-only permits; however, subsequent whitetail antlerless-only permits are valid only in units and department-managed lands listed on the permit.

Hunters with permits valid in Units 7, 8 and 15 get another seven days to hunt whitetail antlerless deer during the Jan. 14-20, 2013 special whitetail antlerless season.

Upland bird hunting has been disappointing in most areas of the state as a result of below average populations due to prolonged drought and extreme summer heat. However, there are some bright spots, and for the hunter willing to travel and work, birds are there. Late season can be especially good because fewer hunters are afield and birds will be more concentrated in heavier cover.

Don’t forget your 2013 hunting license, and hurry. January will be gone before you know it, and next fall will be a long wait.