Daily Archives: October 2, 2014

Learn how cover crops can help fight algae blooms

By Lara Bryant

NWF Blog

Erie Algae Bloom. Photo from NASA, via Wikimedia Commons

Erie Algae Bloom. Photo from NASA, via Wikimedia Commons

Around the world, millions of people do not have access to clean drinking water. In the Eastern half of the US, however, most people have become accustomed to having unlimited clean water for drinking, bathing, and cooking, and we often take our water supply for granted. Last month, when hundreds of thousands in the Toledo area temporarily lost their drinking water due to contamination from a toxic algae bloom, and as California continues to experience extreme drought, we are reminded of how critically important it is to protect source water through the Clean Water Act by supporting the EPA in its efforts to protect America’s waters.

Freshwater algal blooms, as the one in Lake Erie, and hypoxic dead zones, like the one in the Gulf of Mexico, are caused due to excess phosphorus and nitrogen that comes from many sources. Most scientific assessments have pinpointed agricultural runoff from cropland and animal operations as the leading cause of excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the Mississippi RiverLake Erie, and the Chesapeake BayExtreme weather events exacerbate the problem. However, the problem is not without solutions, and we should be using every tool we have to clean up our water.

Cover crops are an excellent, but underutilized, management tool for reducing the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from agricultural land. After Toledo’s water crisis in August, the USDA offered $2 million in conservation funds for farmers to plant cover crops in the Lake Erie watershed.

Cover crops improve water quality by:

▪ Reducing runoff by holding the soil on the ground,

▪ Using nutrients so that they don’t pollute surface and groundwater, and

▪ Improving soil quality, which increases water infiltration, slowing the movement of nutrients.

Recent USDA research has shown that planting cover crops can reduce sediment and nutrient pollution by more than 50%, compared to the status quo of conventional tillageCover crops are becoming increasingly popular, but they are still not common. The 2012 census of agriculture found that there were 10 million acres of cover crops planted nationwide – that is only 2.6% of cropland. In Ohio, there are 357,292 acres planted to cover crops; that is a lot, but it is still only about 3% of total cropland in the state.

Cover crop field day in Ohio. Photo from cover crop champion Bret Margraf, Seneca Soil and Water Conservation District

Cover crop field day in Ohio. Photo from cover crop
champion Bret Margraf, Seneca Soil and Water
Conservation District

Cover crops are also a less expensive way to fight water pollution. Nationwide, it cost utilities $4.8 billion to remove nitrates from drinking water, and $1.7 billion of that was from agriculture. The algal bloom in Lake Erie has already cost the City of Toledo $4 million annually to remove toxins from the water. It is simpler to keep harmful pollutants out of the water in the first place. For example, a study estimated that the average cost of controlling phosphorus at treatment plants in the Fox-Wolf River Basin in Wisconsin was $73/lb. Compare this to case studies from an NWF report, which found that cover crops cost between $0.36-40/lb of phosphorus.

Cover crops won’t solve all water quality problems, but they can do a lot at a relatively low cost, especially considering that a USDA survey found that 63% of farmers who plant cover crops in theMississippiRiver Basin are willing to pay for it out of their own pocket.

Send an email to the EPA to show your support for the Clean Water Act.

You can also help by getting involved in your local watershed planning and encouraging your utilities, watershed groups, and others to start cover crop initiatives like those featured in NWF’s Clean Water Grows report. There is a lot of misinformation regarding the Waters of the US rule; visit EPA’s website to get the facts.

Pre-rut whitetail antlerless-only season Oct. 11-12

Firearm deer hunters who utilize the whitetail antlerless-only seasons to put deer meat in the freezer no longer have to wait until January. The Pre-rut White-tail Antlerless-only season is Oct. 11-12, 2014. Just like the football has pre-season games, firearm deer hunters have a special two-day pre-rut season, giving them a sample of what’s to come. During the Pre-Rut Whitetail Antlerless-Only season, any permit that allows the harvest of a white-tailed antlerless deer is valid. Equipment and unit restrictions listed on permits are still in effect, and all deer hunters are required to wear hunter orange during this season.

This special season came about as a result of a legislative mandate in 2012 that required a pre-rut firearm deer season. This is the second year for the two-day firearm season. Last year, 6,672 hunters went afield harvesting just fewer than 2,000 antlerless whitetails. Since the pre-rut season runs concurrent with archery season, the number of days a bowhunter has to purse deer are not reduced.

For more information on this season, consult the 2014 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulation Summary, or visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting/Hunting Regulations.”

Clinton Wildlife Area quail habitat tour.

Landowners can learn about land management practices that benefit upland wildlife

Landowners can learn about land management practices that benefit upland wildlife

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), in cooperation with the Jayhawk Chapter of The Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, will host a Quail Habitat Management Tour Saturday, Oct. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon on Clinton Wildlife Area, 206 N. 1600 Rd., Lecompton. The tour will include several stops scheduled to showcase habitat management practices staff are using to improve upland habitats on the area.

Land managers interested in land management practices and how they can help create habitat beneficial to quail and other upland wildlife are encouraged to attend. KDWPT biologists will discuss technical and cost-share assistance available to landowners through KDWPT programs, as well as Federal Farm Bill programs. Attendees should dress appropriately and wear sturdy shoes or boots. Refreshments will be provided.

If you, or some you know, might be interested in attending, contact KDWPT biologist Brad Rueschhoff at (785) 273-6740, or by e-mail at [email protected] to register for this event. Parties are asked to RSVP no later than Oct. 6.

Kansas Duck Season

Ducks in flight.

Ducks in flight.

Teal season is over for the year, but marsh madness has just begun. From Oct. 4, 2014 – Jan. 25, 2015, waterfowl hunters in various parts of the state will have opportunities to pursue one of the sky’s most sought-after game birds – ducks. So brush up on your waterfowl ID skills, load up those waders, and pack your decoys, it’s time to hit the marsh.

Waterfowl hunters 16 and older must have a Federal Waterfowl Stamp, and all hunters who are required to have a hunting license must also have a Kansas State Waterfowl Permit and a Kansas Harvest Information Program (HIP) Permit before hunting ducks, geese, or mergansers. Licenses, stamps and permits may be obtained wherever licenses are sold, or online at ksoutdoors.com, except for the Federal Waterfowl Stamp, which can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office.

Kansas HIP Permits are $2.50, State Waterfowl Stamps are $7, and Federal Waterfowl Stamps are $16.50. Hunters may also purchase a 48-hour Waterfowl license if they so chose for $27.50.

Federal and state waterfowl permits are not required to hunt coots, doves, rails, snipe, woodcock, or sandhill cranes; however a HIP Permit is required.



High Plains Zone: Oct. 4-5, 2014

Low Plains Early Zone: Oct. 4-5, 2014

Low Plains Late Zone: Oct. 25-26, 2014

Low Plains Southeast Zone: Nov. 1-2, 2014

(Bag limits for the youth seasons are the same as during the regular seasons and include ducks, geese, coots and mergansers.)


Season:  Oct. 11-Dec. 8, 2014 AND Dec. 20, 2014-Jan. 25, 2015

Area open: High Plains Zone*

Daily bag limit: 6**

Possession limit: Three times the daily bag limit


Season: Oct. 11-Dec. 7, 2014 AND Dec. 20, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015

Area open: Early Zone*

Daily bag limit: 6**

Possession limit: Three times the daily bag limit


Season: Nov. 1, 2014-Jan. 4, 2015 AND Jan. 17-25, 2015

Area open: Late Zone*

Daily bag limit: 6**

Possession limit: Three times the daily bag limit


Season: Nov. 8-9, 2014 AND Nov. 15, 2014-Jan. 25, 2015

Area open: Southeast Zone*

Daily bag limit: 6**

Possession limit: Three times the daily bag limit

*A map showing duck zone boundaries is included in the 2014 Kansas Hunting and Furhavesting Regulations Summary or can be viewed at www.ksoutdoors.com

**The daily bag limit on ducks is six, which may include no more than five mallards, of which only two may be hens; three wood ducks; three scaup; two pintails; two redheads; and one canvasback. Possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.

For more information on Kansas duck hunting, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting/ Hunting Regulations/Migratory Birds.”