Daily Archives: January 29, 2015



Posted by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism on Jan. 29, 2015

Nick Varvel took the overall high score, recording 302 bird species in 2014

PRATT – The second annual Kansas Birding Big Year came to an end on December 31, 2014. Forty-eight participants signed up for the competition, which is designed to get more folks outdoors and enjoying watching and counting birds. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Secretary, Robin Jennison, was intrigued with hosting such a competition after seeing the popular movie “The Big Year,” depicting avid bird watchers trying to see as many species as they could in a single calendar year. It looked like a fun way to get more people involved in wildlife watching in our state.

The competition was divided into three age categories: youth (17 and under), adult (18-64), and senior (65+).

Results for the 2014 competition are as follows:

Adult:    1st – Nick Varvel, Olathe, 302 species

2nd – Jeff Calhoun, Dodge City, 291 species

3rd – Glenn Caspers, Topeka, 286 species

Youth:   1st – Sam Schermerhorn, Wamego, 209 species

2nd – Christian Becker, Marion, 202 species

3rd – Joshua Keating, Milford, 103 species

Senior:  1st – John Row, Manhattan, 214 species

2nd – Judith Collins, Salina, 210 species

3rd – Dan Larson, Berryton, 209 species

Prizes for the competition were donated from several organizations, including Bass Pro Shop of Olathe, Bushnell Optics of Overland Park, Coleman Company of Wichita and Acorn Naturalists of Tustin, Calif., a supplier of resources for the trail and classroom. The winners of each of the categories will also each receive matted and framed original pencil drawings of native Kansas bird species, drawn and donated by Dr. Robert Penner of Ellinwood. Dr. Penner is the land steward and avian projects coordinator for the Nature Conservancy at Cheyenne Bottoms.

“Anything over 300 species in Kansas is considered a benchmark for a very good year,” said Mike Rader, KDWPT wildlife education coordinator. “Nick’s total is really outstanding.”

Rader added there is still plenty of time to sign up for the 2015 competition. For more information, visit ksoutdoors.com and click “Services / Wildlife Diversity / 2015 Kansas Birding Big Year.”


Jan. 29, 2015

Two-day event for those interested in enhancing wildlife habitat in Kansas

WICHITA – Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will host thefifth annual State Convention March 13 and 14 at the Wichita Marriot, 9100 E Corporate Hills Dr. The two-day event will kick off with the “Partners in Conservation Reception” starting at 7:30 p.m., followed by the main event, Saturday, March 14. Convention activities will include discussions from conservation leaders and breakout sessions based on three key topics—habitat, education & outreach, and chapters.

Speakers include Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever President and CEO; Theresa Vail, 2013 Miss Kansas, representative of Bass Pro Shops, and host of “Limitless” on the Outdoor Channel; and Richard McCabe, executive vice president of the Wildlife Management Institute, successful wildlife author, and son of Aldo Leopold’s first graduate student. Additionally, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will report on the status of pheasants and quail in the state.

Afternoon breakout sessions following the morning speakers include a cover crop roundtable with leading agency professionals and farmers, conducting wing-shooting clinics, how to be a successful chapter, and more.

“Through the Kansas State Convention, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever provide wildlife enthusiasts, conservationists, landowners, youth educators, and habitat gurus a chance to get together and share their knowledge and passion for the outdoors,” explained Marc Glades, South Region field manager for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Our chapter leaders, partners, staff, and guests are excited to be guiding this inspiring, information-filled, and interactive weekend that will refresh your wildlife conservation ethic.”

Register between Jan. 27 and Feb. 12 and earn a chance at a $250 Cabela’s gift card. Registration information can be found at http://www.kansaspfqf.org/2015-convention. Hotel rooms are available at a discounted rate of $99 by calling (316) 651-0333. Offer expires Feb. 27.


Photo from Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Photo from Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

USDA launches new regional program, aiding KDWPT in two projects

PRATT ­– Out of more than 600 pre-proposals and 200 full proposals submitted, two Kansas initiatives have been awarded state-level grant funding as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The regional program, which focuses heavily on public-private partnerships, aims to provide private companies, local communities, and other non-government partners a way to invest in efforts relating to land, water, agriculture, construction, tourism, and outdoor recreation. Both the Kansas Pheasant Initiative and the Regional Grassland Bird and Grazing Land Enhancement Initiative, a multi-state effort that also includes Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, will receive funding from RCPP.


The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT), alongside the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Pheasants Forever, Star Seed Inc., National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, The Kansas Wildlife Federation, and Safari Club International, have developed a program geared at managing habitat for pheasants. This initiative uses a focus-area approach, providing cost-share and incentives for practices that create and maintain pheasant habitat. Because widespread, isolated efforts have proved less effective, the Pheasant Initiative will direct resources into focus areas to promote connectivity of projects and facilitate landscape-level population increases.

The initiative will use several traditional management practices to meet this goal, including the Conservation Reserve Program, but will also incorporate agricultural practices that have the potential to provide habitat.

“It seems that there is a widespread misconception that modern production agriculture and wildlife management are not compatible,” KDWPT small game specialist, Jeff Prendergast said.
“The funds from the RCPP program will give us the opportunity to promote modern production practices that are beneficial to wildlife, while being economically favorable to producers.”

The two focus areas include portions of Norton County and Mitchell/Osborne counties and both feature public wildlife areas. The RCPP funds will be utilized to implement cover crops and related practices to increase the availability of nesting and brood rearing cover while partners’ funds will be used to incentivize enrollment in other practices with the same goal.


The Regional Grassland Bird and Grazing Land Enhancement Initiative is a five-year project that will aid ranchers in enhancing and protecting the Flint Hills and Smoky Hill native prairies. Opportunities will be offered through key USDA conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Eligible landowners will be able to utilize practices such as prescribed burning, brush management and prescribed grazing to meet their management objectives. Through ACEP, producers can enter into easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of their eligible land.

KDWPT partners involved in the project include the NRCS, The Nature Conservancy of Kansas, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, and the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition. KDWPT’s primary role will be providing technical assistance to landowners interested in participating in the program.

“The goals of this project are to implement management strategies that promote biodiversity and enhance grassland ecosystem functions, as well as address smoke management issues,” said KDWPT Farm Bill coordinator, Matt Smith. “By focusing additional resources on our native grasslands, it creates a win-win situation for our wildlife and the land stewards who manage these critical landscapes.”

For more information on these Kansas RCPP projects, and others, visit www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov.

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran is attempting to remove protection for the Lesser Prairie Chicken!

federal government designates the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened

A male lesser prairie chicken is seen in Edwards County, Kansas, April 18, 2012. The federal government designates the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened, prompting praise from environmentalists and threats of defiance from lawmakers, land owners and businesses in the bird’s five-state habitat. (Michael Pearce/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images) | Wichita Eagle via Getty Images

It seems like every politician in Kansas is attempting to blame the lumbering Kansas economy on federal protections for the Lesser Prairie Chicken. Jerry Moran is attempting to attach language in the approval for the XL pipeline that would do just that. You can read the article in the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/27/keystone-senate-prairie-chicken_n_6557182.html