Daily Archives: July 17, 2014

Walleye (Sander vitreus)

Walleye photo from http://www.fastactionfishing.com/walleye/

Walleye photo from http://www.fastactionfishing.com/walleye/

Walleye (Sander vitreus)

Photo Credit: http://www.fastactionfishing.com/walleye/

Walleyes are large freshwater predatory fish with sharp teeth. The dorsal side of a walleye is olive, graduating to golden hues on its flanks and white on its belly. The body also has five darker saddles extending partially down its flanks. The first dorsal fin, the anal fin and the bony gill cover (operculum) are spiny. The first dorsal fin lacks spots and the membrane between the spines is opaque. Although not native to Kansas, the Walleye was introduced during the 1960’s by the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks. This highly prized fish naturally spawns during March and April when water temperatures approach 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, fishermen benefit from artificial spawning conducted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl Photo by Judd Patterson

Burrowing Owl Photo by Judd Patterson

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)   Photo by Judd Patterson

Although burrowing owls can be found within the western third of the United States, in Kansas Burrowing owls spend the summer in the western third of the state. Their yellow eyes, white eyebrows and lack of ear tufts are distinctive features in addition to their small size. Because burrowing owls live in abandoned burrows of small mammals like black-tailed prairie dogs (and other burrowing mammals), programs to eradicate prairie dogs are likely to degrade habitat for burrowing owls. Since burrowing owls forage over tall grass but nest and roost in short grass, prairie land with both these habitats are important for their success. Consequently, pesticides have an adverse impact on their success also.

Leaders of Conservation: Vanishing Paradise Outreach Coordinator Andy McDaniels

The following is a very interesting article by Daniel Xu of Outdoor Hub that would probably appeal to Kansas Wildlife Federation members:

By Daniel Xu


Leaders of Conservation:

Vanishing Paradise Outreach Coordinator Andy McDaniels

This interview with Vanishing Paradise Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator Andy McDaniels is part of OutdoorHub’s Leaders of Conservation series, in which we sit down with leaders of the North American conservation movement to learn more about the stories behind their organizations and people.

This week we talk to Vanishing Paradise's Andy McDaniels about one of America's most endangered regions.

This week we talk to Vanishing Paradise’s Andy McDaniels about one of
America’s most endangered regions.

The Mississippi River Delta is known by many names. It has been called at one time or another the “Most Southern Place on Earth” and the “Sportsman’s Paradise.” The delta is one of North America’s most diverse ecosystems for fish and wildlife, all shielded by coastal marshes, forests of cypress trees, and barrier islands. The delta’s wetlands are vital stops for birds flying through the Central and Mississippi flyways and may provide shelter to as many as 10 million waterfowl every year. Yet this jewel of the South is in danger of disappearing.

“It’s probably one of the biggest conservation issues of our time. It’s an issue where if Theodore Roosevelt was alive, he would certainly be engaged in it,” Andy McDaniels told me.

Andy is the Sportsmen Outreach Coordinator for Vanishing Paradise, a program dedicated to restoring the delta launched five years ago by Ducks Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation. The ultimate goal of the program is to reconnect the Mississippi River with its wetlands and rebuild the delta’s forests, marshes, and barrier islands. To do that, Andy intends on unifying the voice of sportsmen and women across the country to support the restoration of the delta. Time is running out, though.

“I was hired to start uniting industry folks and grassroots people to get behind these issues. The Mississippi River had already lost the size of the state of Delaware since the 1930s and it has most certainly made an impact,” Andy shared.

It took more than 7,000 years to create the delta we know today. The Mississippi slowly drew sediment from the interior of the country and deposited it in the Gulf, building up land for vegetation to take root. There are a number of factors that led to the delta’s decline, but Andy said the most visible reason is man-made.

“How this started was that in the 1930s levees were put up in the Mississippi River, and these levees prevented floods,” Andy explained. “Flooding is what built up the wetlands in the first place. It was thousands of years of sediment building, and all of a sudden it was halted. That sediment just washes straight out. Common sense is that if you open up areas in the levees flooding could rebuild the sediment in the marsh.”

The system of levees and floodways in the lower Mississippi River is actually one of the largest in the world, and its construction has had profound consequences that its architects never envisioned. The levees were built in the wake of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. As that name would suggest, the 1927 flood was a force of destruction that swept across the South and reached as far as Ohio. It dumped more than 27,000 square miles of water across the country and caused more than $400 million in damage. It remains the most destructive river flood in American history, and shortly afterwards the US Army Corps of Engineers set to stop such a flood from ever happening again. The Mississippi was shackled.

“It stopped the flooding and the intention was good, but good intentions can turn into bad situations for wildlife. This indeed could be the largest example of that,” Andy said sadly.

Without the lifeline of the river, the delta’s wetlands starved and started to deteriorate. Without the protection of the wetlands, Hurricane Katrina and Rita devastated the coast.

“I don’t know exactly how much Hurricane Katrina cost the American public, but it was a lot,” Andy said.

Vanishing Paradise’s master plan suggests building a new coastline. To do that, sediment must be diverted accordingly, barrier islands have to be rebuilt, and historic ridges reestablished through dredging and plant placement. In short, these diversions will mimic what had occurred thousands of years before the levees were put in and allow the river to build up new land.

But why should a hunter in Michigan or an angler in New York care?

“A duck doesn’t know when it’s flying from Michigan to Wisconsin, or from Arkansans into Louisiana. It’s all about the big picture and when you’re looking at waterfowl habitat of this magnitude, it’s a national issue,” Andy said.

Ducks aren’t the only species that relies on the wetlands. Largemouth bass, oysters, shrimp, crabs, northern shovelers, snow geese, Louisiana black bears, green sea turtles, to name a few, are all connected to the ecosystem one way or another. What happens in the Mississippi Delta will ripple throughout the South and beyond.

Andy has been a hunter and conservationist since a very early age, and he says that sportsmen are the natural stewards of the land. He has led the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation—and organization founded by his grandfather—for more than 10 years and he recognizes the need to mobilize sportsmen behind the plight of the Mississippi Delta. Andy told me that first and foremost, sportsmen need to be made aware of what is happening in the delta and how they can help turn things around.

“My grandfather taught me when I was very young about conservation, and he made it very simple to understand. He said ‘Andy, it’s nothing more than the wise use of what God has given us.’ That has remained in my mind and has been more driving force since I was a little boy,” Andy said, reminding me that some of the greatest conservation victories in North America over the past 100 years were due to sportsmen. “When my grandfather was a young boy in the state of Oklahoma, there were no deer or turkey. There weren’t any geese and very few ducks. The market hunters had pushed waterfowl to the very brink. My grandfather worked very hard and very diligently with other like-minded folks to address this, and now we have abundant populations.”

See how you can help at http://vanishingparadise.org/.


We would like to thank Andy for taking the time to talk with us. For more profiles of leaders of conservation, please read our recent interview with NBCI Director Don McKenzie.

Image courtesy Andy McDaniels

Manhattan Plant Materials Center to Host Field Day on August 6

The Manhattan Plant Materials Center (PMC) will host a field day on August 6 to showcase cover crop species, mixes, and related studies. “The field day will allow participants to walk through the studies with PMC staff who will be available to answer questions,” said Richard Wynia, manager at the PMC. Soil health demonstrations are also planned for the event. The field day will start at 9:30 am and end at noon. Lunch will not be served.

Established in 1936, the Manhattan PMC develops plants and new plant technologies for America’s heartland. The PMC offers services to a diverse region of the heartland including northeastern Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and northernOklahoma. The primary objective of the PMC is to develop plant materials for conservation purposes. The PMC is a part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Wynia invites anyone interested in plants for conservation-farmers and ranchers, the public, K-State faculty and students, garden club members, and others-to join them for the field day. There is no charge.

If you are in need of special accommodations, please call the PMC at 785-539-8761.  This field day will be conducted outdoors so dress appropriately. Items you might want to bring are a hat, sunscreen, walking shoes, and a lawn chair (if desired). Also, participants are asked to bring their own water. The PMC is located southwest of Manhattan, Kansas, at 3800 South 20th Street.

Directions to the ManhattanPlantMaterialsCenter

From Manhattan:  From Ft. Riley Blvd. or Tuttle Creek Blvd. (east side of Manhattan by Manhattan Town Center Mall) cross the Kansas River Bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right on Riley Co. 901-McDowell Creek Rd. Travel 6.0 miles, turn right on Riley Co. 424.  Follow Riley Co. 424, 3 miles north and 1 mile west to the PMC.

From I-70:  Going east, turn left or going west, turn right to Exit 307-McDowell Creek Road Interchange. On Riley Co. 901-McDowell Creek Rd., travel 3.6 miles to West 40th Avenue, turn left and travel 3 miles north to PMC.