There seems to be a concerted effort in the 2014 session of
the Kansas Legislature to dismantle wildlife conservation in Kansas. One bill
will repeal the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1975.
Another bill will eliminate permanent conservation easements in Kansas. And yet
another bill prohibits U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and all federal
employees’ involvement in conservation of prairie-chickens and nonmigratory
wildlife in Kansas. It’s little wonder that we get the feeling there is a War
on Kansas Wildlife. We need the immediate assistance of all KWF members to
fight these onerous bills.
However, there are a couple of bills that deserve our
support. Let’s look at the pending bills one by one.
H.B. 2118 was
passed by the House in 2013 and that eliminated
environmental reviews on preservation of historic properties. Senator Larry
Powell, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, co-opted H.B.
2118 by gutting the original language and inserting the complete repeal of the Kansas
Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1975. This was done in a
committee meeting that was not scheduled ahead of time and thus no public
debate or testimony. The substitute bill was voted out of committee on the same
day it was created and sent to the full Senate.
Now known as the Senate Substitute for H.B. 2118, it may be
debated by the entire Senate this next week. If it
passes the full Senate, the Speaker of the House, Ray Merrick, will have to
decide if this bill has been ‘materially altered’ which is against House and
Senate rules. This decision is completely up to the Speaker and it will take 70
votes to reverse his decision.
We need everyone to contact their
state Senator and ask that they not vote for
Senate Substitute for H.B.
2118. The bill has to be stopped, ideally by Senate President Sen.
and Ranking Majority Leader Sen.
, who can keep it from being voted on.
Let your senator and the Senate leadership know that a
survey of Kansans was conducted by Responsive Management regarding
Kansas Residents’ Opinions on Threatened and Endangered Wildlife and Actions to
Protect Wildlife. They found 73% agreed with the statement, “Wildlife that is
threatened and endangered in Kansas yet abundant in other states should still
be protected in Kansas.”They also found the most support is for having
an official state list of threatened and endangered wildlife in Kansas (90%
strongly or moderately support) and for the state imposing stiff fines on those
who harm endangered wildlife or their habitats (88% strongly or moderately
Tell your Senator to vote NO on Senate Substitute for H.B. 2118.
Here is a site for looking up your senator and
S.B. 323 is a
bill that originated in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. It will
eliminate permanent conservation easements designed to protect prairies,
wetlands, agricultural land, etc. in Kansas. Conservation
easements will be limited to the landowner’s discretion, or at the longest,
his/her lifetime. If S.B. 232 is enacted, it will end the use of
conservation easements to protect Flint Hills (and other) prairie lands by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the
Kansas Rangeland Trust, the Kansas Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and
others. Efforts by Ducks Unlimited to preserve our valuable wetlands via the
Wetland Reserve Program will essentially be shut down in Kansas. Likewise,
Department of Defense funding for conservation easements in the “buffer
area” around Fort Riley would be halted.
If SB 323 becomes law, Kansas will
be one of only two states to limit conservation easements. Tell your Senator to
vote NO on SB 323.
SB 276. This bill
originated in the Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs, at the request
of Secretary of State Kobach. This bill is an anti-USFWS involvement in
conservation of prairie-chickens and nonmigratory wildlife in Kansas. As
written it would preclude any federal employee to implement federal programs
that benefit resident wildlife. It is written broadly enough to keep the Farm
Service Agency from issuing subsidy payments to landowners as part of Farm Bill
programs, like the Conservation Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program or
even the commodities programs.
SB 276 passed the Senate a while back and a hearing was held
in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee but it has not been
debated or voted on in that panel. Please contact your state representative and
have him/her vote against SB 276 if it comes up for a vote. This is especially
true if your representative sits on the House Committee
on Agriculture and Natural Resources
. Tell them to vote NO
on SB 276
The two bills that deserve our support deal with land
acquisition by the Kansas Department
of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Kansas has too little public land available for
hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation access (KDWPT owns 0.27% of Kansas).
Kansas currently ranks 49th among the states, behind only Rhode
Island, in percentage of the state available for public outdoor recreation.Both tracts are adjacent to land currently owned or leased by
KDWPT and will be open to hunting and other outdoor recreation activities
important to KWF members.
SB 366 would authorize the KDWPT to purchase a parcel of land containing 397 acres in Cherokee County. It
will be purchased using Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) settlement
funds which are used to mitigate damages to the environment and natural
resources in the Tri-State Mining District.
SB 370 would authorize the KDWPT to purchase a parcel of land containing 484 acres in Pottawatomie
County, adjacent to the Tuttle Creek Wildlife Area. Acquisition
of this land will improve public access to a 3.5-mile portion of that public
hunting area that is currently inaccessible to the public, expanding hunting,
wildlife viewing and hiking opportunities in the northern Flint Hills region.
Governor Brownback has identified the need for additional trails in the Flint
Hills as a part of his tourism plan.
Both SB 366 and SB 370 passed the
Senate and sit in the House Committee
. Please contact Chairman Rep.
Marc Rhoades and ask that the committee work and pass the two bills out of
committee. If your representative sits on the House Committee on Appropriations
let them know you support both SB 366 and SB 370. Regardless let your
representative know to vote YES on SB 366 and SB 370.
Please contact your state
representative and senator as soon as possible. Votes on these important bills
could happen at any time. Your support is critically important. Thank you in
advance for everything you can do.