Daily Archives: December 18, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership names top 10 underreported conservation stories of 2014

image001The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership today released a comprehensive list of its Top 10 Underreported Conservation Stories of 2014. This is the first year that the TRCP, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, has produced this list.

“These stories comprise a choice cross-section of important conservation-related topics that failed to register with the public over the past 12 months,” said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh. “Right now, these issues couldn’t be more relevant to American citizens. We’d like to refocus attention on the policy debates that have the greatest potential to alter Americans’ abilities to access and enjoy our fish and wildlife, lands and waters.

“Conservation of our invaluable natural resources and upholding public opportunities to access and enjoy these resources is in everyone’s interest,” continued Fosburgh, “whether you fish for bass, trout or snook or hunt deer, pheasants or ducks – or simply appreciate open spaces and clean water.”

Millions of acres of public lands off limits to the American people, a world-renowned – and critically threatened – Alaskan salmon fishery, unprecedented opportunities for restoration of the Gulf of Mexico and the threat to our nation’s public lands heritage – these are among the underreported conservation stories that made the 2014 TRCP list.

Here are the TRCP’s top 10 underreported stories of 2014, listed in order of importance:

♦ America’s national forests and parks for sale? A vocal group of lawmakers and activists is demanding that America’s public lands – including some national parks – be transferred to state ownership or to be sold to private interests.

♦ Money earmarked for conservation gets spent elsewhere. A federal program created to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and increase public access and recreation opportunities is being treated more like a slush fund.

♦ Budgeting restrictions for wildfire management burn up cash. Wildfire suppression costs have consumed the U.S. Forest Service budget, preventing crucial investments in forest management and wildfire prevention programs.

♦ World’s largest marine reserve embraces recreational fishing. President Obama signed a proclamation in 2014 that not only expanded the footprint of the PacificRemoteIslandsMarineNational Monument to six times its current size but allows recreational fishing in these rich waters.

♦ Regulations for management of 245 million acres of public land being rewritten for the first time in decades. The Bureau of Land Management is updating its national land-use planning handbook, which federal land-use planners use to make decisions regarding 245 million acres of the public’s lands.

♦ Public denied access to 35 million acres of public lands. Approximately 35 million acres of U.S. public lands – roughly the size of Alabama – are virtually off limits to visitors.

♦ Gulf of Mexico restoration offers once-in-a-lifetime conservation opportunities. Up to $20 billion in settlements from the BP oil spill represents an unprecedented opportunity to restore the Gulf of Mexico.

♦ Federal red snapper regulations have anglers seeing red. Despite an abundance of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, the federal season for recreational anglers shrank to nine days in 2014.

♦’ Not dead yet’: Alaska’s proposed Pebble Mine still a threat. Powerful international mining interests are redoubling efforts to develop the world’s largest open-pit mine in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region.

♦ While California fights, Western sportsmen and ranchers collaborate – and win. Sportsmen’s groups, ranchers and farmers – groups with often competing interests when it comes to water use – are working together locally to improve water management during the current Western water crisis.

Visit the TRCP website for complete top 10 profiles and more information www.trcp.org

Reserve your 2015 campsites and cabins in advance

Online reservation system allows reservations up to a year in advance

With weather in the 30s, it’s hard to picture planning spring and summer fun, but the secret about Kansas state parks is out and reservations are a must for busy holiday weekends. Consider making your 2015 camping and cabin reservations in advance and ensure your family and friends ample space at the lake for your next visit. Campsite reservations for 2015 can be made beginning at noon on Dec. 19, and cabin reservations can be made at any time. Simply visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click on the “Reserve A Cabin Or Campsite Now” button, choose the location you’d like to visit, and begin searching for your ideal date.

Camping and cabin reservations guarantee the holder their spot will be open and ready when they arrive at the park. Payment in full is required at the time a reservation is made. Reserving a cabin requires a non-refundable $14 reservation fee. Reserving a campsite requires a non-refundable $3 reservation fee per stay.

Daily vehicle entrance permits are $5. Annual vehicle permits are $25 or you can purchase a State Park Passport when you register your vehicle for $15. Annual vehicle permits for seniors and persons with disabilities are available through department offices for $13.75.

For more information about Kansas state parks and their amenities, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “State Parks.”

Kansas birders tally encounters with winged friends this holiday

You don’t have to be a seasoned birder, or even own an expensive pair of binoculars to participate in a Christmas bird count. In fact, an identification book and a bit of free time will do the trick.

Birders of all skill levels will spend the next few weeks during organized bird counts recording sightings of resident and migratory birds in an effort to compile as much data as possible about Kansas’ winged species. If you have an interest in birds and don’t mind weathering the elements, consider participating in a Christmas bird count this season. It’s fun and a great way to learn more about birds in Kansas.

There are many count compilers in Kansas who send data to the Kansas Ornithological Society (KOS), and there is no charge to participate. The KOS will accept data collected on counts conducted from Dec. 13 through Jan. 11, 2015. The official Audubon Christmas Bird Count period is Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 and participation is also free of charge.

Christmas bird counts have been conducted for more than 100 years, and more than 2,000 counts are held across the nation each year. Each winter, about 50 individual count events occur in Kansas. More than 40 are scheduled so far this year with others to be announced. Count locations are scheduled in all corners of the state and points in between. Christmas bird counts are typically conducted in traditional circular census areas, each with a 7.5-mile radius. This consistency ensures data collected is comparable for population trends over time.

Count events are easy to prepare for; the best tools are a pair of binoculars, a good field guide, and appropriate clothing and footwear for possible extreme weather. For those counting in an area with a lake, a spotting scope may be necessary to identify birds at long distances. It’s also a good idea to study up on species expected in your location.

Information about Kansas Christmas bird counts can be found at the KOS website, www.ksbirds.org. For details, just click “2014/15 Kansas Christmas Bird Counts.”

For more information about Audubon Christmas Bird Counts in Kansas, go to