Monthly Archives: July 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

                                                OutdoorHub

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.

House Subcommittee Votes to Curtail Environmental Protections

By Fred Hoefner

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

 

On Wednesday, July 9, the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee passed a bill to fund the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), and related agencies in fiscal year (FY) 2015, which begins on October 1, 2014. The bill cuts EPA funding by $717 million, or 9 percent, relative to current already tight spending levels. Funding for the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service within DOI remained largely intact. Most strikingly, the bill contains 35 separate policy riders aimed at curtailing the Obama Administration’s implementation of key environmental protections.

The multitude of legislative riders attached to various FY 2015 appropriations bills in the House–including two riders to the agriculture appropriations bill, one intended to waive school nutrition standards, and another aimed at undermining the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s effort to protect livestock farmers from abusive and deceptive practices by meatpacking corporations–are a big part of the reason that Congress is struggling to pass appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year. The policy riders are topics within the jurisdiction of congressional authorizing committees, not the appropriations committees, but given their annual nature, appropriations bills become ripe targets for legislating in addition to determining funding levels.

Among the riders included in the Interior-Environment bill are provisions to:

▪ Prevent EPA from implementing new greenhouse gas emissions restrictions for power plants;

▪ Remove EPA’s existing authority to regulate carbon pollution from large stationary facilities;

▪ Prohibit the Administration from designating coal ash as a hazardous waste;

▪ Bar the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from creating or expanding wildlife refuges; and

▪ Prohibit the listing two species of sage grouse as endangered.

The bill also contains a rider to halt EPA from finalizing its Proposed Rule to clarify the jurisdictional scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA). In issuing the Proposed Rule, EPA took an important and overdue step toward ensuring the protection of our nation’s wetlands, streams, and other waters. The CWA is the nation’s primary tool for protecting wetlands that are connected in some way to other bodies of water, such as rivers or streams; however, the scope of the CWA had been muddied by earlier court rulings.

Were the House and Senate to pass their respective appropriations bills, it is very unlikely that the riders would survive negotiations over the makeup of the final legislation. In recent years, the House Majority has loaded up appropriations bills with policy riders to have more leverage in calling for spending cuts when negotiating with the Senate, and getting perhaps a few of the riders through the process as well. Unfortunately, what this means is that, in a year when both chambers of Congress were able to agree upon overall spending levels, Congress will nonetheless very likely get so bogged down by policy riders that it cannot get its work done in passing FY 2015 appropriations bills.

As the number of legislative days left before the November elections slip by, it will become extremely difficult for Congress to finalize appropriations bills, or some package of appropriations bills, prior to recessing for the month of October to go home and campaign. It is still possible though, and we strongly encourage Congress to get the job done and done on time.  The far worse, but more likely, alternative is that Congress will simply continue current funding levels on autopilot under what is known as a “continuing resolution,” at least for part of the next fiscal year.

Read our earlier blog post for more information on the status of FY 2015 appropriations.

 

Registration Open for Youth Dove Hunt

Family members are welcome to attend this half-day hunt

The Jayhawk Chapter of the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation (QUWF) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) invite youth age 16 and younger to register for their 7th Annual Youth Dove Hunt. The Sept. 1 opening day hunt will take place at Clinton Wildlife Area west ofLawrence and will begin just before sunrise and run through mid-day. Mentors will accompany all participants, but non-hunting family members are encouraged to attend, as well.

Shotguns, non-toxic shells, and eye and ear protection will be provided to participants, who are encouraged to dress in camouflage or dark-colored clothing.

To register for this event, contact QUWF member Dr. John Hill at (785) 550-5657 or by e-mail at[email protected].

Participants age 16 must have a Kansas hunting license, unless exempt by Kansas law and a Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit. For more information, visit www.ksoutdoors.com  and click “Services / Education / Hunter.”

The dove season is Sept. 1-Oct. 31 and Nov. 1-9. For information regarding migratory bird hunting regulations, license and stamp requirements, legal methods of take, non-toxic shot and more, visitwww.ksoutdoors.com  and click “Hunting / Migratory Birds / Federal Migratory Bird Regulations.”

 

Public Meetings to Discuss Pheasants

Public invited to attend pheasant information meetings. Voice your opinion!

Pheasant

If you have an interest in pheasants and pheasant hunting, plan to attend one of two public meetings to be conducted in conjunction with Pheasant Tour 2014. The first public meeting will be on Monday, July 28, at the ComfortInnConvention Center, 2225 S. Range in Colby. The second public meeting will be on Tuesday, July 29, at the Pauline Joyce Fine Arts Auditorium, 801 Campus Drive, Garden City Community College campus, Garden City. Both meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m.

Pheasant Tour 2014 is a cooperative effort between the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and Pheasants Forever, designed to inform the public, decision-makers, and conservation partners about the status of this popular game bird and to examine what can be done to improve pheasant populations. Pheasant numbers have declined significantly across the Great Plains due to the impact long-term, severe drought has had on habitat and reproductive success of all upland birds.

The tour will have two components: First an invitation-only bus tour that will visit sites providing examples of conservation efforts and habitat projects that benefit pheasants, as well as updates on current research projects. Sites will include a variety of state, federal and private conservation programs. The second component will be the two public meetings.

The meetings will begin with presentations from KDWPT biologists on the status of pheasants inKansas, along with information about current efforts and programs that benefit pheasants. Time will be allotted at the end of each meeting for questions and suggestions.

Prairie Rattlesnake

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Prairie Rattlesnake.     Photo by Shaina Niehans

The PRAIRIE RATTLESNAKE (Crotalus viridis) is 3-4 feet long. It is especially common in western Kansas in open rocky areas, prairies and even agricultural land. The prairie rattler eats mostly small rodents such as white-footed mice, shrews, voles, house mice plus prairie dogs, small birds & young rabbits. Its fangs deliver an hemotoxic venom that circulates through the bloodstream causing tissue damage and internal bleeding plus very intense pain. It is active in the daytime. It has an infrared (heat) sensing pit located between the eye and nostrils. This feature is shared by cottonmouths and copperheads collectively referred to as pit vipers, although cottonmouths and copperheads lack a rattle. After being bitten, it is important to get immediate attention at a hospital where anti-venom can be administered. An excellent source of information is The Kansas School Naturalist http://www.emporia.edu/ksn/v05n3-feb1959/index.html. Also a booklet entitled “The Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Amphibians of Fort Riley and Vicinity” by Busby, Collins & Suleiman is available from the Kansas Biological Survey in cooperation with the U. S. Department of the Army. It includes photos by Suzanne L. Collins of the Center for North American Herpetology.

Prairie Rattlesnake

rattlesnake_striking.img#3

Prairie Rattlesnake.            Photo by Casey Kanode, Flickr

The PRAIRIE RATTLESNAKE (Crotalus viridis) is 3-4 feet long. It is especially common in western Kansas in open rocky areas, prairies and even agricultural land. The prairie rattler eats mostly small rodents such as white-footed mice, shrews, voles, house mice plus prairie dogs, small birds & young rabbits. Its fangs deliver an hemotoxic venom that circulates through the bloodstream causing tissue damage and internal bleeding plus very intense pain. It is active in the daytime. It has an infrared (heat) sensing pit located between the eye and nostrils. This feature is shared by cottonmouths and copperheads collectively referred to as pit vipers, although cottonmouths and copperheads lack a rattle. After being bitten, it is important to get immediate attention at a hospital where anti-venom can be administered.

Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats (F.I.S.H.) program. Private Waters Leased for Public Fishing

Have you ever wondered what these unique ladders are used for? Photo from Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation.

Have you ever wondered what these unique ladders are used for? Photo from Pottawatomie County Economic Development Corporation.

The F.I.S.H. Program, which stands for Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats was patterned after the very successful Walk-In Hunting Access Program with a goal of increasing public fishing opportunities in Kansas.

The F.I.S.H. Program was first introduced to Kansas anglers and landowners in 1998. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) leases private waters from landowners for public fishing. Landowners participating in F.I.S.H. receive payments, as detailed below. F.I.S.H. provides anglers with a place to fish while leaving the land in private ownership. By providing a place to fish, the tradition of fishing can be preserved.

To learn more from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism site click here.