Daily Archives: June 26, 2013

Operation Dry Water to Look for Boaters Under the Influence

Concentrated effort to curb drinking and boating slated for June 28-30, 2013

Kansas Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for boaters under the influence during Operation Dry Water June 28-30. Operation Dry Water is part of a national effort to reduce accidents and fatalities related to boating under the influence (BUI) of drugs and alcohol and educate recreational boaters about the dangers of BUI.  

KDWPT officers are responsible for patrolling the waters of Kansas and conducting boat accident investigations, boat safety inspections, BUI checks, safety programs, education classes and other boating related activities. During Operation Dry Water, officers will be out in force looking for boaters whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of 0.08. The weekend will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, life jacket checks and boater education. Impaired boaters can expect to be arrested or face other serious penalties. In Kansas, the consequences for BUI include fines, jail and loss of boating privileges.  During the 2012 Operation Dry Water, eight arrests were made for BUI offenses. 

“We are dedicated to keeping boaters safe on our waters. Boating is a safe and enjoyable pastime when people stay alert and follow the rules,” said Kansas Boating Law Administrator Maj. Dan Hesket. “Many factors contribute to the way alcohol affects a person on the water, such as the sun, wind, glare, dehydration and wave motion, causing a person to become intoxicated three times faster than on shore.”

BUI is a major problem across the nation. According to U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2012, alcohol is the primary contributing factor in recreational boating fatalities. Intoxicated boaters run a significantly increased risk of being involved in a fatal boating accident. During calendar year 2012, Kansas recorded 27 boat accidents, of which two resulted in a fatality, 12 resulted in injuries, and 13 involved only property damage. Two people were killed, 13 were injured and there was an estimated $112,321 in property damages.        

Operation Dry Water 2013 is a joint program of KDWPT, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information, visitwww.operationdrywater.org. Information about Kansas boating regulations, registration, education, and requirements is at www.ksoutdoors.com – click on Boating.

            Statistical information can be found in U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2012 http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/1/workflow_staging/Page/705.PDF

What Went Wrong with the Farm Bill?

By Lara Bryant

National Wildlife Federation

After the Senate easily passed a Farm Bill earlier in June, many thought the House of Representatives had the votes in the bag to pass their own version. For 2 years, I’ve been working on farm bill policy, and I’ve got to say, I was looking forward to getting it done and moving on to other things. To tell the truth, I wasn’t even paying much attention to the final House vote, when various expletives from nearby cubicles preceded the surprising news — the final Farm Bill failed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 195-234.

In retrospect, it’s easy to see what went wrong, and maybe, the final result is not so surprising.

The Senate and House versions of the farm bill were similar in many respects, but the few differences were hugeThe House farm bill’s downfall was a major budget reduction to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly know as the food stamp program. The House farm bill cut SNAP by about $20 billion over five years, compared to $4 billion in the Senate. It is no secret that House Democrats and President Obama were not pleased with the cuts, but many believed that the bill would pass and that the Senate and House would work out an acceptable compromise on a final farm bill that the President could approve. However, many House Republicans thought that cuts to food stamps were not severe enough. When RepresentativeSteve Southerland (R-FL) introduced and passed a work requirement for food stamps, some say it was too much to retain support for many House Democrats. Whether or not the Southerland amendment was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the House bill failed spectacularly, with 172 Democrats and 62 Republicans voting against.

What does the Farm Bill failure mean for wildlife?

It’s not good news. The House bill was a bit of a stinker for conservation, especially when acritical amendment was withdrawn that would have required some minimum conservation practices in return for crop insurance premium subsidies. (Why was the Thompson-Fortenberry Crop Insurance Accountability amendment withdrawn? That’s an interesting tale, so stay tuned for part 2 of this blog, coming very soon.) However, if the bill had passed there would have been an opportunity to improve it in conference between the Senate and the House before the final legislation was approved.

The 2008 Farm Bill extension expires in September, so some sort of extension or legislation must pass before certain aspects of the farm bill revert to wacky permanent farm law from 1938In the meantime, farm bill conservation will pay the price for Congress’s inaction. As long as conservation compliance is not connected to crop insurance, taxpayers are actually paying incentives for wetland drainage, conversion of native grassland, and risky farming practices that could lead to soil erosion and reduced water quality. Futhermore, with each passing year that Congress fails to pass a five-year bill, the available baseline of funding for conservation decreases and the picture will begin to look very bleak for wildlife.

Farm bill conservation programs benefit millions of acres of wildlife habitat. It is absolutely critical that a five-year farm bill is passed, and that it contains key provisions to protect land, water and wildlife.

So, what is the solution?

It is hard to say what will happen next for the farm bill. The Senate version passed easily, had the President’s approval, and was a strong farm bill that contained key provisions for conservation. Could the House adopt a version of the Farm Bill modeled on the Senate bill? Could we avoid the political gridlock by separating SNAP from the Farm Bill? Should they put Tywin Lannister in charge of the whole thing? It is hard to say what could work, but Congress must do something, and citizens need to weigh in and make it clear that the farm bill is a priority. We need a strong farm bill that ensures a safety net for farmers to provide all of us with an affordable food supply, while protecting our natural resources. Stay tuned to see how you can help.