Daily Archives: September 23, 2014

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are pleased to announce the expansion of habitat specialist positions in Kansas

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism provides vital support for expansion

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are pleased to announce the expansion of habitat specialist positions in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT). The expansion marks the fourth habitat specialist position in Kansas and is designed to provide habitat management and restoration for many public KDWPT properties throughout the state.

“The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is a key agency partner for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever throughout the state. Their support is critical to making these positions and the habitat acres that follow a reality,” commented Zachary Eddy, Pheasants Forever’s senior Farm Bill wildlife biologist in central Kansas. “Clearly, the public benefits in the form of increased wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities on our state wildlife areas as a result of this partnership.”

Habitat specialists are experts in planning, developing and implementing wildlife habitat management projects for each of the assigned public wildlife areas in Kansas. These specialists plant native grasses, perform prescribed burns, and carry out a host of other specific practices to maximize each area’s wildlife and natural resource values.

“The partnership we’ve created with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever allows us to keep staffing capacities consistent on high-use public wildlife areas during times of budgetary challenges,” said Brad Simpson, KDWPT public lands section chief. “All of our habitat specialists come highly trained in the field of wildlife habitat management and this helps us to maintain quality cover and services at some of our most popular recreation destinations in Kansas.”

Kansas Habitat Specialist Program

Luke Winge – The most recent staff member employed by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Luke Winge is the current habitat specialist working to improve wildlife resources for the Cedar Bluff Wildlife Area near Hays,Kansas. With an available 10,300 acres open for public access, this wildlife area is a popular destination for local residents. Among the hunting opportunities available for big game, turkey, upland birds and waterfowl, Cedar Bluff Wildlife Area is also an excellent fishery. Winge focuses his efforts on creating diverse habitat with a mixture of crops, grasses and weeds to provide excellent recreation opportunities for many visitors throughout the year. For more information about Cedar Bluff Wildlife Area, Luke Winge can be reached at [email protected].

Alex Thornburg – The habitat specialist at Tuttle Creek Wildlife Area, Alex Thornburg is responsible for the management of 12,200 acres of wildlife habitat. This area consists of TuttleCreekLake, the second largest body of water in the state which acts as a flood control unit for the Kansas River Basis. Thornburg is one of two main employees for Tuttle Creek Wildlife Area and actively manages for multiple wildlife species through mowing, food plots, controlled burns and various other habitat improvements. For more information Tuttle Creek Wildlife Area, Alex Thornburg can be reached at [email protected].

Andrew Page – Working to support multiple wildlife species, habitat specialist Andrew Page is an active leader in habitat improvements for the Perry Wildlife Area located north of Topeka, Kansas. The Perry Wildlife Area consists of 10,500 acres of wetland/upland complexes surrounding the Delaware River. Management of upland habitat over the years has consisted of cropland conversion, native grass establishment, planting of shrubby cover, cutting of shrubby vegetation, and prescribed burning to stimulate warm season grasses and forbs. For more information about Perry Wildlife Area, Andrew Page can be reached [email protected].

Brock Wilson – Located east of Wichita, habitat specialist Brock Wilson is responsible for the management of 9,352 acres in the Fall River Wildlife Area. Known for its flood plain valley surrounded by rolling prairie country, this wildlife area consists of 2,300 acres of riparian timber, 2,500 acres of native grassland, 2,988 acres of cropland and 960 acres of the Fall River Reservoir. Wilson’s management techniques are focused on increasing the quality of wildlife habitat to provide ample recreational opportunities for hunters to harvest game species such as deer, turkey, waterfowl, doves and quail. For more information about Fall River Wildlife Area, Brock Wilson can be reached at[email protected].


U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative reports some gains for wetland species

A new report from the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative shows encouraging population gains for some wetland-dependent bird species. At the same time, the report’s authors warn about the future implications of the continuing loss of ephemeral or temporary wetlands in the prairies of the United States and Canada. Some species such as northern pintail and black tern, which rely heavily on ephemeral wetlands, have experienced long-term declines.

The State of the Birds 2014 reports that some wetland-dependent bird populations are at or near historic high levels, including mallards, gadwall, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal and northern shovelers, according to annual breeding bird surveys conducted in the United States and Canada.

“Many wetland bird species are doing very well,” said DU’s Chief Scientist Dr. Scott Yaich. “We can at least partially attribute this to collective wetland conservation efforts across the continent. But, two decades of unprecedented above-average rainfall in many key breeding areas are in large part responsible for duck population increases that are masking the loss of wetland habitats documented by other studies. We continue to be very concerned about the accelerating loss of wetlands in important areas for birds and what that will mean when we inevitably enter another dry period.”

The report points out that ephemeral wetlands in the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region declined by 74,340 acres between 1997 and 2009. This region is North America’s most important breeding area for waterfowl and is a top conservation priority area for Ducks Unlimited. Northern pintail populations have been declining for several decades and are currently 20 percent below their long-term average.

The State of the Birds 2014 is authored by the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative-a 23-member partnership of government agencies and organizations dedicated to advancing bird conservation. The report is based on extensive reviews of population data from long-term monitoring. It looks to birds as indicators of ecosystem health by examining population trends of species dependent on one of seven habitats: grasslands, forests, wetlands, oceans, aridlands, islands and coasts. This year’s report is also a five-year check-in on the indicators presented in the inaugural 2009 State of the Birds report.

More information is available at www.stateofthebirds.org.

National Public Lands Day, September 27

On Saturday, September 27, the National Park Service celebrates the 21st annual National Public Lands Day by providing free admission to all national parks. To learn more about National Public Lands Day, please visitwww.publiclandsday.org.

National Public Lands Day is intended to encourage shared stewardship of our nation’s public lands. It is a day designated for all of our nation’s people–individuals, families, and organizations — to pull together and help improve America’s largest natural resource–its public lands. Today it is the nation’s largest, hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance federal, state and local public lands around the country. Nationwide, folks will pull together in work projects that range from planting trees and collecting seeds to building bridges and cutting trails.

This and other park releases are available at http://www.nps.gov/ever/parknews/newsreleases.


Quail Initiative Habitat Tour and Dinner

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism


Landowners and others interested in improving quail habitat on their property are invited to attend a Quail Habitat Tour and free dinner scheduled for Tuesday, October 21st at Melvern Wildlife Area, Reading, Kansas. Starting at 4:30 PM, a tour of completed and active habitat projects on Melvern Wildlife Area will take place. Those interested in attending the tour will meet at the KDWPT shop on the east side of Reading. Following the tour, a free catered meal, compliments of the Neosho Valley Quail Forever and Emporia Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation chapters, will be held at the Reading city building around 6:00 pm.

Following dinner, Kansas Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (KDWPT) will update participants on the progress of the Quail Initiative Project and present information on bobwhite biology and habitat management. Local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel will also be on hand to discuss relevant cost share programs available, as well as representatives from other local conservation organizations. The evening will wrap up with a time for questions, discussion, and the opportunity to sign up for habitat planning assistance.

The Kansas Quail Initiative is an effort spearheaded by the KDWPT to implement additional funding in two areas ofEastern Kansas to improve habitat for quail and monitor the changes over the next five years. The goal is to improve quail populations by 50% in these focus areas. The area of focus area for this meeting includes the Melvern Wildlife Area and over 190,000 acres in portions of Lyon, Wabaunsee, Osage and Coffey counties. “We plan to offer 100% cost sharing for landowners in these areas to implement ‘quail friendly practices’ on their land,” according to Jim  Pitman, Kansas small game coordinator. “KDWPT has designated $100,000 each year to this effort and those dollars can be used to supplement the normal 75% cost share rate from federal habitat programs. The bottom line is that landowners in this focal area will work with biologists to plan habitat improvements for quail and cost-share payments will cover all the costs,” according to Pitman. Some of the practices eligible for cost-share funding include native grass and forbs planting, removal of invading trees from grasslands, prescribed burning, hedgerow renovation and prescribed grazing. During its first two years, the Initiative has directly impacted nearly 1,300 private land acres and 4,400 public land acres.

To learn more about this effort, call 620-342-0658 by October 15th to make your reservation for the habitat tour and/or meal. If cannot attend, but would like to know more about the initiative, call Pat Riese, District Biologist at 620-583-5049.