Monthly Archives: February 2014

Steve Harper Scholarship renewed, to help Kansas students

The Outdoors Writers of Kansas and Kansas Wildscape are renewing the Scholarship.

A scholarship for Kansas students is named after Steve Harper, a longtime photo editor and outdoors writer/photographer for the Wichita Eagle, who died in 2000 from cancer at the age of 55. A scholarship in his name was suggested by Gov. Bill Graves and others. The $1,000 scholarship program was funded by donations. Funds expired after about 10 years. The Outdoors Writers of Kansas and Kansas Wildscape joined to renew the Scholarship last year.
Applications may be made by students graduating from a Kansas high school planning on attending a Kansas four-year college, with a nature/wildlife-based major. The student must also have career goals of staying in Kansas. College students with a similar major and goals may also apply.
The program will issue one $1,000 scholarship annually, directly to the student’s college.
Harper was known for his deep love of Kansas and published hundreds of articles and photos about enjoying his native state. He also rated Kansans as some of the finest people in America, especially those that possessed great deals of commitment and motivation.
Scholarship applicants will be judged by members of the Outdoor Writers of Kansas and Kansas Wildscape. Selection criteria will include past and current involvement in nature/wildlife-related projects, scholastic achievement and projected potential.
The deadline to apply is late March. For information on applying, contact Debbie Brandt at Kansas Wildscape at 785-843-9453 or [email protected]

Youth Invited to Hunt Turkey at Jeffrey Energy Center

Applications will be accepted through March 14, or until all spots are filled

Westar Energy invites youth age 12-17 to participate in a spring turkey hunt, April 1-20, atJeffrey Energy Center, located seven miles north of St. Marys. The event is open to all youth who meet the age requirement and have yet to harvest a turkey. Participants must be accompanied by an adult mentor, preferably one who does not have turkey hunting experience. Participants will need a shotgun; however, no special clothing, calls or decoys will be required. Hunters 15 years and younger must purchase a youth spring turkey permit. Hunters 16 years and older will need a unit three turkey permit, hunting license and hunter education card.
Participants will hunt from enclosed blinds around small crop fields scattered over the property where turkeys are abundant. Hunts will take place primarily in the mornings and on weekends, but weekdays and afternoons are possible based on volunteer guide availability.
Registration will be open through Friday, March 14, or until all slots are filled. Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis with preference given to inexperienced mentors. For more information and to apply, contact Barb Cornelius at (785) 575-8125.
This project is supported by Westar Energy Green Team volunteers who are veteran hunters available to assist the youths and their mentors.

Pheasants Forever State Habitat Convention March 7-8

Fourth annual event celebrates Kansas’ tradition of upland hunting and conservation

Kansas Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will host its fourth annual state habitat convention March 7-8 at the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita. The two-day event is designed for landowners, conservationists and hunters interested in improving wildlife habitat, and will also celebrate and discuss avenues to enhance the upland hunting tradition in the Sunflower State.
Open to the public, the state meeting is an opportunity for local sportsmen/women and chapters to meet and discuss concerns and opportunities regarding upland wildlife in their area. The habitat-heavy event will also focus on youth, women, and dog enthusiasts within the state.
“We have an outstanding event this year thanks to our volunteers and our partners,” said Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Western Kansas regional representative, Chris Blackledge. “I am greatly looking forward to meeting with individuals from across the state who are ready and willing to help ensure Kansas’ upland hunting heritage.”
Saturday’s keynote speakers include:
Dave Nomsen, vice-president of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, will discuss issues in Washington D.C. that affect conservation. Additionally, he will update attendees with news about the Federal Farm Bill.
Jake George, private lands coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, will be on hand to discuss Walk-In Hunting Access programs that are opening up more great locations to the public each year around the state.
Jim Pitman, small game coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, will be discussing bag limits and population dynamics for hunting regulations.­
Nadia Marji, associate editor for Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine, will share her journey of transitioning from a “city girl” to an “accidental huntress” in an effort to engage more women and youth in the outdoors.
Speakers will also be on hand to discuss the importance of pollinators and insects in increasing upland bird populations, new ways to engage youth through chapter outreach, issues with stocked birds, landowner success stories, managing deer and upland birds at the same time, taxidermy, and management implementation.
All sessions at the Great Plains Nature Center and the Wichita Marriott are open to the public for a price of $65. Ticket price includes Friday’s Pheasants Forever Kansas Hall of Fame Reception, State Habitat Convention Saturday and the Partners in Conservation Banquet Saturday evening.
For more information, contact Chris Blackledge at (620) 767-2121,[email protected] or visit www.kansaspfqf.org to register.

APPLICATIONS BEING ACCEPTED FOR OUTDOORS-WOMAN WORKSHOP

PRATT ­– If you’ve ever wondered what baits catch what fish, how to start a fire with your bare hands, or even
have thought about coasting a creek in a canoe, youshouldsign up for the 2014 Spring Becoming An Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshop thisMay. Held at Rock Springs 4-H Center May 16-18,the workshop will offerparticipants courses on everything from wood-carving and GPS basics, to rifle marksmanship and fly fishing.
Offered through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, BOW is a non-profit, non-membership program designed for teaching women outdoor skills. The workshop will offer over 25 different classes thanks to a core of volunteer instructors, including KDWPT employees, law enforcement officials, and even past participants, all of whom are considered to be experts in their field.
Cost for the three-day workshop is $250, which includes lodging, meals and class supplies. Three $100 scholarships are available to first-time participants based on financial need.
Early registration will be open to first-time participants through March 15. If spots still remain, past participants may register beginning March 16. Applicants are encouraged to apply early as the spring workshop is limited to 48 participants and the application period will close May 2. To register, visitwww.ksoutdoors.com, click “Services/Education/Becoming an Outdoors Woman,” and download a registration form.
For questions, call or email Jami McCabe at (785) 845-5052 or [email protected] To learn more, and view pictures of past workshops, visit the BOW Facebook page found under “Becoming an Outdoors Woman KANSAS.”

Kansas Recognized for Use of Native Grasses in CRP

Group Achievement Award presented to Kansas federal agriculture agencies

The National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) recently bestowed their Group Achievement Award to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Kansas. The award reflects achievements of groups of individuals or organizations that have had a measurable positive impact on wild bobwhite quail populations. The NBTC consists of the nation’s top bobwhite biologists, researchers, resource managers and conservation groups who are dedicated to restoring native bobwhite quail populations.
With this award, the NBTC is praising the Kansas offices of NRCS and FSA for their unique implementation of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which became part of the Farm Bill in 1985. CRP pays private landowners to take highly-erodible farmland out of production and plant it to grass. In the program’s early stages, Kansas policy makers were faced with critical decisions about the types of grasses that would be required in a state with such a wide diversity of soil types.
Those policy makers determined the most beneficial cover for CRP would be mixes of warm-season, native grasses, the same grasses found in our native prairies. Looking back, it appears to have been one of those moments in time where all the stars aligned and policy was developed that would have major implications for the future of wildlife and other natural resources in Kansas.
The decision was not met with unanimous support. Other states wanted consistency across state lines and were pushing the use of Old World bluestems, which were cheap and relativity easy to establish. Native grasses were more expensive and practical experience in establishing those grasses was lacking. Many assumed the CRP program would not be around long enough to warrant the cost of expensive grass mixes only to see the land broken out again in the future.
But staff in Kansas NRCS offices reasoned that establishing a mix of native grasses would provide the producer greater options for future use once the contracts expired. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism staff knew the value of native grasses to wildlife and the department’s field biologists had been working with private landowners to establish native grasses through wildlife habitat enhancement programs. A seed company in western Kansas was already selling native plant materials and had experience developing mixes for various parts of the state.
With agreement among technical staff across agency lines in Kansas and private industry ready to meet the needs of producers, administrators within NRCS and FSA strongly backed the decision to use natives, ensuring long-term benefits for many Kansas wildlife species.
During the late 1990s, KDWPT began documenting the presence of the lesser prairie-chicken in portions of their historic range where they had not been seen for more than 60 years. This significant re-occupation was due to nesting cover provided by native grasses in CRP. FSA and its partners in Kansas had been targeting CRP enrollment within the historic range of the lesser prairie-chicken since 1996 by establishing Conservation Priority Areas. Since that time, increases in pheasant and quail populations have also been observed in those same areas. That portion of western Kansas is one of the only places in North America where quail populations have trended upward over the last couple of decades.
In making this award to NRCS and FSA, the NBTC also wanted to recognize individuals who were instrumental in making the “first native first” policy a reality nearly 30 years ago. Those individuals include James Habiger, former NRCS state conservationist, Jess Crockford, former NRCS state range conservationist, Bob Higgins and Rich Hager, former NRCS biologists, Al Schmatter, former FSA Conservation Program Manager, Bob Wood and Charles Lee, former KDWPT agriculture liaisons and Sharp Brothers Seed Company of Healy Kansas.

Hunter Survey Participation Vital for Deer Management

40,000 Deer hunters will receive online surveys inquiring about the 2013-2014 season

Forty thousand of the approximately 120,000 hunters who hunted deer in Kansas this past season will be contacted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) via an online survey. The survey, which is conducted every year, asks deer hunters to provide information regarding harvest success, dates and seasons hunted, days spent in the field, locations hunted, and choice of equipment during the 2013-2014 seasons. Hunter participation in the survey is crucial because biologists use the information to make deer management recommendations. Hunters who are randomly-selected to take this survey are strongly encouraged to complete the survey in its entirety as soon as possible.
“Some people reply back and tell us they killed a doe or got a 10 point buck and think that is all we really need. That is not the case,” said KDWPT big game biologist, Lloyd Fox. Fox explained that KDWPT monitors multiple aspects of the hunt in order to gain a clearer picture of the men and women who hunt deer and the impact of hunting on the resource.
Fox added that preliminary data received from surveys completed thus far show little to no changes from the 2012-2013 season as hunters have been reporting similar harvest success rates compared to last year, but biologists are still eager to receive any and all outstanding surveys in order to obtain the best information possible.
If you receive a 2013-2014 deer survey, please take the time to fill out it. A little time spent at the computer can go a long way in the field next season.

Council Grove Youth Turkey Hunt April 5

Hunters age 11-16 are invited to participate; registration deadline March 21

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), in cooperation with area chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will sponsor a youth turkey hunt April 5 near Council Grove. Participation is open to all youth age 11-16, and there is no cost to attend. Limited slots are available and the deadline to apply is March 21.
Participants in this hunt will pattern shotguns and scout for turkeys the evening before the hunt on April 4. Early on April 5, they will be guided on public and private land to some of the best turkey hunt spots the area has to offer. The event will also include door prizes, a turkey hunting presentation, and breakfast and lunch for the hunters.
Lodging is available in nearby Council Grove, and camping is available at Council Grove Reservoir.
For more information or to register for this event, contact KDWPT public land manager Brent Konen at (620) 767-5900.

Kansas Forest Service hires Forester for Northwest Kansas

Bryan Peterson will serve a 24-county district working directly with farmers, ranchers, and landowners

The Kansas Forest Service is pleased to announce the employment of Bryan Peterson, who will begin serving as the northwest district forester, located in Hays, beginning Monday, March 3. Peterson’s office will be located in the area Natural Resource Conservation Office (NRCS).
Peterson has a double major in Forest Management and Urban Forestry from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and most recently has been managing the Midland Marketing Coop in Palco.
Peterson will provide services in a 24-county district, working directly with farmers, ranchers and landowners interested in planting and renovating windbreaks and he will assist communities manage and care for their trees. Peterson will also provide assistance with tree health concerns associated with drought, insects and disease.
Additional information about the services Peterson will provide and the district he covers can be found on atwww.kansasforests.org/programs/rural/services.shtml.
Peterson replaces Jim Strine, who served 35 years to the people of Kansas as a District Forester. Jim join0ed the KWF Board of Directors in July as a Director at Large. Jim’s expertise in forest and riparian habitats and his long-time experience in northwestKansas will provide excellent guidance as a member of the KWF Board.

Trout Season runs through Mid-April

Kansas offers winter trout fishing at more than 30 public fishing lakes

Kansas might not be the first state that comes to your mind when you think of trout fishing, but don’t be fooled – the Sunflower State has created spectacular winter fishing opportunities by stocking more than 30 different public fishing locations with this spotted fish.
Through April 15, anglers can try their luck at trout fishing in both Type 1 and Type 2 waters. Type 1 waters stocked with trout require all anglers to possess a $12.50 trout permit, while Type 2 waters require only those fishing for or possessing trout to purchase the permit. The $12.50 permit is valid for the calendar year and can be purchased wherever licenses are sold and online at ksoutdoors.com.
Residents 16-74 years old, and all non-residents 16 and older must also have a valid fishing license. The daily creel limit is five trout unless otherwise posted. Anglers 15 and younger may fish without a trout permit, but are limited to two trout per day, or they may purchase a permit and take five trout per day. Possession limit for trout is 15.
Trout fishing at Mined Land Wildlife Area No. 30 (Cherokee County), where trout survive through the summer, requires a trout permit year-round. For a complete list of waters stocked with trout, as well as rules and regulations, consult the2014 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, or visit ksoutdoors.com.

Companies Partner with States to Conserve Lesser Prairie-Chicken Habitat

The WAFWA announces land enrollment by industry partners

Five oil and gas companies are voluntarily enrolling nearly 1.5 million acres of land under an innovative plan to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken. This represents the first enrollment in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan, developed by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) and state wildlife agencies in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Continental Resources, Devon Energy, Apache Corp., Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation, and Samson Resources have committed to develop enrolled land in ways that minimize impacts on lesser prairie-chicken habitat. They will also mitigate development impacts that cannot be avoided by providing funding for conservation on private land throughout the region. Other companies in various industries, including oil and gas, pipeline, electric transmission and distribution, and wind energy, are now considering enrollment in the plan.
“The oil and gas industry enthusiastically supports the WAFWA range-wide plan,” said Ben Shepperd, Permian Basin Petroleum Association president. All five enrolling companies are members of the association, which also helped fund aerial surveys to verify chicken populations in 2012.
“We’re proud to see these member companies stepping up early on to support the range-wide plan in a significant way,” Shepperd said. “We believe this plan offers the best, most comprehensive approach available to conserve the lesser-prairie chicken and its habitat, while providing some assurance for participating companies so we can continue to do business.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) endorsed the range-wide plan in October and verified that companies who enroll would get legal assurances that their business activities could continue if the bird is listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. The federal agency has proposed listing the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened, and is expected to make a final decision in March.
“The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan addresses all threats to the species and could represent an alternative to designating the bird as threatened,” said Ross Melinchuk, WAFWA Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative Council chairman.
The USFWS recently announced it would accept public comments on a proposed special 4(d) rule that “…would exempt from regulation under the Act any activities that harm or result in take of the prairie-chicken if incidental to carrying out the state-developed range-wide lesser prairie-chicken conservation plan. The proposed special rule would also exempt take incidental to routine agricultural practices on existing cultivated lands and to landowner participation in the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative.”
Under the range wide plan, mitigation fees are based on actual costs for habitat management and restoration. Fees range depending on factors like the number of acres impacted, quality of habitat affected, and habitat management costs. Basically, developing in higher quality habitat costs more, and working in lower quality habitat and cropland costs less.
“This landmark program allows for industry development within the region and incentivizes farmers and ranchers to conserve and restore habitat for this species,” said Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA Grassland Initiative Coordinator. “WAFWA and state fish and wildlife agency staff are now working to enroll farming and ranching lands with those mitigation dollars.”
Mitigation fees will help fund proven habitat management activities, such as voluntary agreements with landowners to protect or restore native grassland habitat. Already in Texas, as of today, 73 landowners across the Texas Panhandle and Rolling Plains have enrolled 594,253 acres in a similar though separate strategy, voluntary Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, or CCAAs, for the lesser prairie-chicken. Texas CCAA acres have grown more than five-fold since September, 2010. New Mexico has more than 800,000 acres of oil and gas leases enrolled in their CCAA, plus 1.5 million acres of ranch land. Oklahoma has submitted 200,000 acres of ranch land for approval in their CCAA and has requested USFWS to allow enrollment of an additional 200,000 acres.
Besides industry enrollment, landowners are also able to voluntarily enroll in the plan to help conserve and restore habitat for the bird on private land in Texas and other states. In exchange for management practices such as prescribed grazing, burning, and brush management, landowners are assured they can continue to operate under provisions of a management plan if the bird is listed.
The plan includes habitat management goals and voluntary conservation practices to be applied throughout the lesser prairie-chicken’s range, guided by the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) online database and mapping system (http://kars.ku.edu/geodata/maps/sgpchat/).
The Range-wide Conservation Plan for the Lesser Prairie Chicken can be viewed on WAFWA’s lesser prairie-chicken web page at http://www.wafwa.org. A recorded online seminar explaining the industry mitigation system is online at http://192.120.246.152/CTL/WAFWA.html.