Monthly Archives: September 2014

Kansas Wetlands Education Center Butterfly Festival

Participants can help capture and tag monarch butterflies

Participants can help capture and tag monarch butterflies

From making milkweed seed bombs to tagging monarch butterflies, kids and adults will find plenty to do during the Kansas Wetlands Education Center’s (KWEC) “Butterfly Festival” Sept. 13, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. KWEC is located at 592 NE K156 Hwy on the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area 10 miles northeast of Great Bend. Participants will study butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalises, an exhibit bee hive, as well as several other amazing insects and spiders on display inside the insect “zoo.” There is no cost to attend and door prizes will be given away just before noon.

Nets and tags will be available for those who want to capture and tag monarch butterflies. Participants will receive information about the tagging process before heading out with a tagging leader to search for monarch butterflies. Although monarch numbers have decreased drastically, populations seem to be rebounding locally, with many adults, caterpillars and eggs found on milkweed at Cheyenne Bottoms.

Apart from tagging, participants can also play in the mud and make a take-home seed bomb, composed of clay, compost, water and seeds; take photos at the monarch butterfly and caterpillar photo boards; create a unique caterpillar and butterfly in the craft section; refuel with light refreshments and drinks.

Butterfly milkweed plants, with growing instructions, will be available at no cost to those who would like to encourage monarchs in their yards and gardens. Information on butterfly-friendly plants and other attractants will be available and visitors may also walk through the wildflower/butterfly garden to view examples of butterfly-friendly plants.

For more information, contact the KWEC at 1-877-243-9268, or visit:

Silver Chub

Silver Chub:  Photo from North American Native Fishes Association.

Silver Chub: Photo from North American Native Fishes Association.

The Silver chub (Macrhybopsis storeriana) lives near the bottom of large sandy rivers. In Kansas it is found in the lower Arkansas River, portions of the Ninnescah River and the Missouri river. However, it has not been observed in the Kansas River since 1980 in spite of once having been abundant there. Most are about 5 inches long but may grow to 9 inches. The Silver chub feeds on insects, plant seeds, small mollusks and crustaceans along the bottom of the river. Its large eyes can see very well except in murky water. In turbid water, mouth barbels hanging from the corner of the mouth are used for smell. They have a complete lateral line for detection of water vibrations along their flanks. Its body is greyish-green on top and silver underneath. Recent drought has dramatically reduced their populations in the Ninnescah River in southern Kansas. Ground water withdrawals can also do harm. Biologists at Kansas State University report that river fragmentation caused by dams adversely affect aquatic systems in the Great Plains needed by native fish species like the silver chub. Once dams breakup a river into small enough sections, fish eggs released into the river cannot drift downstream for enough distance to develop completely. An additional aggravating problem is the stocking of reservoirs behind dams with nonnative fish, e.g. Largemouth bass that prey on native fish like the silver chub.

Funding for critical farm bill conservation programs in danger!

                                                                                                National Issues

The House FY 2015 agriculture appropriations bill proposes to cut $109 million (more than 1 million acres) from the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), $209 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and $60 million from the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

The agriculture appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee would cut EQIP spending by $250 million, but would not cut funding for the other conservation programs.  All of these cuts are from the levels approved by Congress earlier this year when it passed the 2014 Farm Bill.

On top of conservation cuts, the House bill slashes the farm bill funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) by 40 percent, from $50 million to $30 million.  REAP helps farmers adopt renewable energy (such as wind and solar) and energy conservation technologies.

The ink barely had time to dry on the new farm bill before these attempts to unravel the decisions on conservation and renewable energy funding.  Not included in either appropriations bills are any similar proposed changes or cuts to commodity or crop insurance subsidies.

The proposed cuts to conservation and renewable energy programs would result in increased water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, and habitat loss, and should be rejected in upcoming negotiations.

Contact your congressman and Senators and let them know how you feel about fully funding conservation programs at the levels they agreed to in the 2014 Farm Bill.


Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cyanthus latirostris) Photo by Tom Grey

Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cyanthus latirostris) Photo by Tom Grey

Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cyanthus latirostris) Photo by Tom Grey

Although the hummingbird is tiny, it exhibits prodigious feats. In order to hover at a nectar-producing flower, its wings beat typically 50-80 times per second, its heart beats up to 1250 beats per minute, its breathing rate is 250 breaths per minute. They visit hundreds of flowers a day to acquire just enough energy to survive overnight. During the summer in North America they must add enough fat reserves to sustain them during migration flights across the Gulf of Mexico to wintering sites in Central America or Mexico. Ten different types visit Kansas including the Broad-billed hummingbird shown in the photo above. Hummingbirds co-evolved with specific flowers that are only pollinated by birds with long slender beaks that can reach the narrow tubular flower structures containing nectar. These structures ensure contact between the pollinating hummingbird and the stamen and stigma that results in pollination. Hummingbirds are extinct everywhere except the Americas. Their nests are also tiny and often have bits of lichen attached to them.

Tell The EPA That You Support Clean Water Protections

Over one-third of Americans rely upon small streams like this one for their drinking water supply.

Over one-third of Americans rely upon small streams like this one for their drinking water supply.

What happens upstream, in small streams and wetlands, affects downstream rivers, lakes, and beaches where we swim and fish. Small streams are the source for much of the water in our rivers. They provide critical habitat and filter out pollutants. Wetlands act like a sponge to store floodwaters and recharge groundwater supplies. Yet, today these critical upstream waters are not fully protected by the Clean Water Act.

Despite thirty years of comprehensive protections under the law, two Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 made it unclear whether these small streams and wetlands were still protected. This leaves the small streams and wetlands that contribute to the drinking water of 117 million Americans vulnerable to pollution.

Sign on to the letter from the American Rivers organization supporting clean rivers & stream. It’s simple. Visit American Rivers.

Federal Judge Finds BP Grossly Negligent in Deep Horizon Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico

“BP acted with utter disregard for human safety, wildlife, and
water quality in the Gulf”

A bird covered in oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill struggles to climb on to a boom in Barataria Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

A bird covered in oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill struggles to climb on to a boom in Barataria Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

September 4, 2014 – A federal judge has ruled BP was “grossly negligent” in its actions that led to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said today:

“Today’s ruling is a monumental decision for protecting wildlife, communities and natural resources. After a thorough review of the evidence, Judge Barbier confirmed that BP acted with utter disregard for human safety, wildlife, and water quality in the Gulf.

“BP’s willful misconduct and gross negligence put people and wildlife in grave danger. Eleven men lost their lives. Bottlenose dolphins, endangered sea turtles and countless species of fish and wildlife perished. Studies have estimated that the oil killed an astonishing 800,000 birds and caused billions of dollars of economic damage.

“Today’s decision is a critical step towards ensuring that BP is held accountable for the full impacts of the Gulf oil disaster and required to restore the vibrant ecosystem of this national treasure—justice demands nothing less.”


Cicada by Texas Eagle

Cicada by Texas Eagle

Cicada:   Photo Credit: Texas Eagle

Their eyes are prominently set on the anterior lateral corners of their head (plus three additional tiny eyes between them). Their sturdy wings have conspicuous veins. Male cicadas make a loud mating sound that is not stridulation (as is produced when crickets or katydids move body parts together). Instead, male cicadas have a special modified exoskeleton on their anterior abdomen called a tymbal. Internal muscles can buckle the tymbals inwards to generate a clicking sound. When these muscles relax, the tymbals bow outward to their original position making another click. Some species of cicada can generate sounds up to 120 decibles. This sound can cause pain in the human ear; and, make it difficult for predators like birds to communicate in groups. If the sounds of the male are successful, mating will occur and the female deposits her eggs into a slit in the bark of a tree. After the eggs hatch, the nymphs fall to the ground and burrow to a depth of 1-8 feet. The nymphs live underground for most of their lives where they drink sap from roots of plants. The annual species we see and hear in Kansas trees in mid-to-late summer emerge from the ground in a year. Some emerge at the end of a seventeen-year cycle in greater numbers. In the final nymphal instar, nymphs emerge above ground, attach to a nearby plant or wooden fence post and molt (shed their skins) to become adults. Their abandoned and vacated exoskeleton remains left behind.

Kayaking Orientation

Kansas Canoe & Kayak Ass

Who: 2014 KCKA (Kansas Canoe and Kayak Association) Fall Rendezvous

When:  Sept 20 & 21th, 2014

Where: Elk City Lake/Card Creek Campground/Corp of Engineers

Look for our Banner and lots of kayaks

*************NEW FIRST TIME EVENT***************

We are excited to offer:

                                “Intro to Kayaking Orientation”. 


Who: OPEN to the public, all ages welcome,

Cost: Free

When: Sept 20, 4:00-5:00 pm

Where: Elk City Lake, Card Creek Campground/Corp of Engineers

-An OUT OF WATER EVENT that will orient people to the different genre of kayaking:  (fishing, recreational, transitional, touring, racing, sea kayaking, whitewater).

-Safety gear needed with demonstration

-How to transport a boat

-What to look for when buying a boat

-Types of paddles and paddling tips

-Opportunity to sit in all types of boats (OUT OF WATER ONLY)

-Meet fun & like minded people from KCKA that enjoy paddling.

For more information about the KCKA please contact: [email protected] and visit our website at