Daily Archives: March 25, 2014

Repeal of Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act measure introduced and reported out of Senate Committee this morning without notice or hearing

Message from Audubon of Kansas Regarding Attempts to Repeal
the Kansas Nongame & Endangered Species Conservation Act.

We’ve never sent out a more urgent Legislative Alert! This morning, without warning, Senator Larry Powell, Chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, attached an amendment to an unrelated bill that will (if passed) repeal the 1975 Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. He was assisted in this effort by Senator Tom Arpke of Salina and Senator Caryn Tyson of Overland Park.

Timely emails and calls to Kansas state senators is likely the only thing that will halt this stealth attack on state designated nongame, threatened and endangered species conservation in Kansas. Most importantly, folks can contact Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita to ask that she hold off any action on this measure, which was not introduced as a bill, had no hearing, and will be a train wreck for conservation and KDWPT in Kansas. Her office phone is 785-296-2419 and her email address is [email protected]

The other key senator who can stall this runaway train and prevent the train wreck is Senator Terry Bruce, Senate Majority Leader, from Hutchinson. He controls the agenda for senate floor action. His office phone is 785-296-2497 and his email address [email protected]

Contact information for other state senators can be found atopenkansas.org.

The measure to repeal the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act was reportedly attached as an amendment to House Bill 2118. It is unrelated, designed to eliminate regulation of property surrounding historic sites. See an outline on that bill below.

One can read more about the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act at:


Kansas Makes Bird Conservation a Felony

Dear Audubon Advocate,
The Kansas State Senate has passed a bill that takes aim at the Lesser Prairie-Chicken! It would make it a state felony for any U.S. Fish and Wildlife employee to engage in conservation work for this beleaguered bird.
Now this ill-conceived bill moves to the Kansas House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and perhaps ultimately to the floor for a vote. We must stop it now!
Please send an email to your Kansas House legislator. Ask him/her to oppose SB 276, a bill that would make criminals out of U.S. Fish and Wildlife employees doing their job to conserve the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Make sure your House legislator knows you support the conservation of birds and wildlife in Kansas!
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken is now only found in restricted areas of five states in the southern Great Plains. The Lesser Prairie-Chicken has experienced dramatic declines since the 1800s, as rangelands have been converted to agriculture, overgrazed, and affected by drought. Now more than ever the Lesser Prairie-Chicken needs strong conservation measures to ensure its survival.
Urge your Kansas Representative to vote “NO” on SB 276 and let the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do its job to conserve this iconic American Plains bird.
Peg Olsen
Vice President, Central Flyway
National Audubon Society

AFWA Announces National Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Fish and Wildlife Resources

AFWA’s bipartisan Blue Ribbon Panel will produce recommendations on how the nation can fund natural resource conservation

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) announced that Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops founder, and Dave Freudenthal, former Wyoming governor, will co-chair AFWA’s new, national Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Fish and Wildlife Resources to advance recommendations for funding a 21st century model of conservation.
Under the co-chairs’ leadership, the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Panel will convene 20 invited visionaries representing the outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing sector, the energy industry, conservation organizations and sportsmen’s groups to recommend funding solutions and Congressional policy options for delivering sustained conservation funding to states and their partners that maintain a balance between natural resource diversity and natural resource-based enterprise.
“I strongly believe that the future of our industry, the outdoor sports that we serve, and the outdoor sports we personally enjoy, is absolutely more dependent upon how we manage our natural resources than anything else,” said Johnny Morris. “Industries, agencies, key conservation organizations and individuals can work together and assure a very bright future for America’s full diversity of fish, wildlife, and their habitats.
The Blue Ribbon Panel is the first effort to bring business, energy, conservation and environmental interests to the table to focus on funding a 21st century model of conservation to sustain the full array of fish and wildlife species for our country.”
Over the past several years, federal funding for the conservation of imperiled fish and wildlife species has declined by one-third, while petitions for federal endangered species listing has skyrocketed by 1,000 percent. According to the Government Accountability Office, once listed, the average cost to U.S. taxpayers for the recovery of a single species can exceed $125 million.
Thousands of additional species could be listed in the coming years leading to more expensive recovery attempts; reduced recreational and development access; and increased regulation and compliance costs.
“We’ve reached a point where inaction will only dig us a deeper hole of controversy, litigation, lost business opportunities and declining fish and wildlife,” said Mr. Freudenthal. “I’m honored to co-chair the Blue Ribbon Panel with Johnny Morris to ensure wildlife and business prosper and divisiveness and reactionary conservation are a relict of the past.”
State hunting and fishing license dollars, federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear and motorboat fuel taxes have provided the backbone for funding states’ fish and wildlife conservation programs over the past century. However, there has always been a gap in dedicated funding for conserving the 95 percent of all species that are neither hunted nor fished.
Only partially filling that gap is the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, the sole federal source of funding to state agencies to prevent new endangered species listings. Since 2010, the program’s funding has been cut by more than 35 percent.
“The diversity of wild species that inhabit this nation’s lands and waters belong to every American to experience, use and enjoy,” said Dan Forster, director of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and 2013-2014 president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “We owe it to the resources we manage and the public that pays our bills to not relent until we solve the fiscal predicament that looms if we don’t find a more equitable funding model for fish and wildlife conservation.”
Mr. Morris and Mr. Freudenthal intend to convene three meetings of the Blue Ribbon Panelover the course of a year to develop funding recommendations. The list of Blue Ribbon Panelists will be announced in the coming months. Staff from AFWA and state fish and wildlife agencies will support the work of the Panel.
The official announcement of the Blue Ribbon Panel co-chairs was made at the annual Teaming With Wildlife Fly-in Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill. Teaming With Wildlife is a national coalition of more than 6,400 conservation organizations and nature-based businesses – representing state fish and wildlife agencies, wildlife biologists, hunters and anglers, birdwatchers, hikers and other conservationists – to garner support for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program.

2014 Farm Bill Offers Voluntary Conservation Programs

The 2014 Farm Bill was enacted on February 7, 2014. In this new Farm Bill, NRCS offers voluntary conservation programs that benefit both agricultural producers and the environment. Producers will find that NRCS programs have been streamlined and are easier for them to use. Field staff will find that the new, simplified program structure will improve their ability to assist producers. The Farm Bill continues to provide producers with financial and technical assistance and promotes conservation stewardship. It also combines easement programs to make them more accessible.
Some of the key program changes include:
Financial assistance programs: The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, will absorb the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and make similar practices available. The Conservation Stewardship Program and Agricultural Management Assistance will be continued.
Easement programs: The agency’s key easement programs will be merged into a new program called the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, or ACEP. ACEP includes the former Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program and Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program. Funding for wetland and grassland protection expired September 30, 2013, and the 2014 Farm Bill reinstates funding for these critical efforts under ACEP.
Partnership programs: The agency’s regional conservation efforts have a home in a new program—the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP. Critical conservation areas for this new program will be designated by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. NRCS will also select project areas at the state and national level.
For more information on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/FarmBill. As policy and regulation are written, we will have more information forthcoming. With the tools and resources provided through the 2014 Farm Bill, NRCS stands committed to making a major difference in the quality of our natural resources.