Monthly Archives: January 2015

New wildlife area acquired in Jefferson County

Special hunts offered on newly-acquired public land

 

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) PublicLand staff are excited to announce the addition of a wildlife area in JeffersonCounty. The recently-acquired, 840-acre area is approximately 6 miles northwest of Lawrence. Called Buck Creek Wildlife Area, it derives its name from BuckCreek, which bisects the property and is one of the few perennial streams in the area that remains unaltered.

Initially, all public hunting opportunities on the area will be managed through the KDWPT special hunts program. Controlling hunting pressure will allow managers to regulate and monitor how many, who, and when hunters have access to the area. Wildlife viewing and outdoor educational opportunities will be allowed when hunting seasons are closed.

The land consists of oak-hickory forest, native grasses, cool season grasses, and cropland. The warm season grasses and mature timber will be managed mostly through prescribed fire and timber stand improvements. The cool season grasses will be converted over time to native grasses and forbs to enhance wildlife habitat. The cropland on the area will remain in production, and all revenue generated will be designated for funding wildlife management activities on the property.

For more information on Buck Creek Wildlife Area, contact area manager Justin Hamilton at (913) 845-2665.

USDA seeks public comment on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is publishing a rule that outlines how it will improve the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), one of USDA’s largest conservation programs.  The interim final rule includes program changes authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill.

USDA has established a 60-day comment period for the rule.  The rule is available in the Federal Register and regulations.gov.   Public comments can be submitted through regulations.gov or by mailing them.  Comments are due by February 10, 2015.  Full details are in the Federal Register notice.

“This interim final rule provides a roadmap to help streamline and simplify EQIP for farmers and ranchers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.  “We strongly encourage agricultural producers, private forest landowners and stakeholders to provide comments on our implementation processes.  This feedback will help us improve our operation and deliver technical and financial assistance more efficiently to our nation’s agricultural producers and forest landowners.”

The changes are intended to simplify the EQIP regulation regarding conservation practice scheduling, payment limitations and other administrative actions.  Vilsack said USDA has enhanced EQIP by streamlining the delivery of technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners nationwide.

Highlights of program changes in this rule include the following:

  • Establishes EQIP as a contributing program for the Regional Conservation   Partnership Program;
  • Requires at least 5 percent of available EQIP funds be targeted for conservation practices that promote wildlife habitat;
  • Increases the advanced payment from 30 percent to 50 percent for eligible historically underserved producers, including beginning farmers, to help purchase material or contract services;
  • Targets assistance to veteran farmers and ranchers including eligibility for the new 50 percent advance payment and up to 90 percent of the cost to implement EQIP conservation practices;
  • Increases the payment limitation for EQIP from $300,000 to a maximum of $450,000 for benefits received during 2014-2018 and removes the option for a waiver to exceed payment limitations;
  • Eliminates the requirement for a program contract to remain in place for one year after the last practice has been implemented, allowing practices to be scheduled through the tenth year of a contract;
  • Includes an option to waive the irrigation history requirement under certain

conditions;

  • Incorporates the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program functions into EQIP.

This rule follows the publication of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) interim final rule in the Federal Register on November 5.  USDA is also seeking comments for the CSP rule.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers EQIP, a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural producers and forest landowners to help them address soil, water, air and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner.  Resulting conservation and environmental benefits include improved water and air quality, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved energy conservation, improved grazing and forest lands, and created or improved wildlife habitat on working farms, ranches and non-industrial forestlands.

EQIP has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of agricultural producers and forest landowners since its launch in 1997.  From that time through 2014, USDA has invested in 596,481 contracts for a total of nearly $11 billion on nearly 232 million acres nationwide.

For more information about interim final rules for USDA NRCS’s Farm Bill conservation programs, visit EQIP Rule page.

For more information on technical and financial assistance available through EQIP, visit the EQIP Web page.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

 

The Drawings of G. O. Sars

Drawings of Wildlife as an Educational Tool

by Ted Beringer

Long before photography had been invented and its technology improved, artists were essential for rendering visual images of their discoveries. Artists accompanied many explorers on their expeditions around the world to record geography and newly discovered plants and animals. Even after photography became available for this purpose, it did not always provide the speed or detail that it does today. Those scientifically trained and artistically skilled individuals who contributed to our knowledge of wildlife were a combination of scientist and artist. They produced drawings, paintings and etchings that captured the scientific accuracy as well as the aesthetic of their subjects. One example of this skill is the art work of George Ossian Sars whose anatomical drawings were published in 1896 in his text Fauna Norvegiae. Although he was a Norwegian, his subject matter of crustaceans such as the fairy shrimp is found throughout Kansas in Vernal pools. It has been highlighted as one of “featured creatures” on the Kansas Wildlife Federation website http://www.kswildlife.org/ww/fairy-shrimp/

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Compare the photo there with this drawing by Sars. The drawing captures both the biological detail as well as the beauty of this creature that is near the bottom of the food chain in Kansas and a very important food source for fish and birds. You can view Sars’ Fauna Norvegiae at the Biodiversity Heritage Library and download any of the drawings (They are near the back of the book). You can print and frame them if you like.

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

Muskrat Photo by Peter Stahl

Muskrat Photo by Peter Stahl

Photo by Peter Stahl

The muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) is found throughout Kansas. It is a large semi-aqautic rodent that lives near slow moving streams, marshes or ponds. They dig entrances into the banks along these waterways to three-feet tall push-ups composed of vegetation and mud. They can remain underwater for fifteen minutes. Muskrats are protected from cold water by a thick fur consisting of two layers of hair. Their tail is flattened vertically. They are smaller than beavers with whom they share an environment and amicable relationship. Muskrats are most active at night but also near dawn and dusk. Muskrats mostly eat cattails, bur reed and other aquatic vegetation like water lily. Because of their eating habits, they play a significant role in determining the vegetation of prairie wetlands. They don’t store food for the winter. They also occasionally eat freshwater mussels, frogs, clams, snails, crayfish, fish, and small turtles. Large hawks and owls, foxes, coyotes and mink prey upon muskrats. Pike may take baby muskrats. Muskrats normally live in groups consisting of a male and female and their young. During the spring, muskrats may fight over preferred territory and potential mates.

2015 Gun-a-week tickets available now!!

Your support helps Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors get more kids outdoors

 

Tickets for the 2015 Gun-a-Week Drawing are available NOW!! Your generous support of Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors efforts to get more kids outdoors has been greatly appreciated. As we prepare to wrap up another great year outdoors with kids, we need your help to grow the program in 2015.

And if you like what we have been doing, please forward this email to other folks you know who want to see kids outdoors, hiking, hunting, fishing, shooting…enjoying all of the wonders of the great outdoors!

The funds raised from the Gun-a-Week drawing go a long way towards getting more kids outdoors. Your donation helps us take the kids on outdoor adventures that most of them could never dream of…pheasant hunting with former professional baseball and football players, turkey and deer hunting on Turner Enterprises Z Bar Ranch in southcentral Kansas, fishing and hiking in state parks across the area. So many of the children we reach will never have the opportunity to even go outdoors, not to mention trips like these.

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Your funds are used to pay for licenses that many of these kids can’t afford. We cover the cost of processing when they harvest a deer. Our goal is to make sure every child that wants to participate can do so. But we need your help to make that happen!
The first drawing will be the 1st Wednesday in March…but don’t wait till then to get your ticket!
For a $50 donation, we’ll send you a ticket that will be entered in every weekly drawing for 52 weeks! That’s 52 chances to win a gun…less than $1/chance! But we’re going to make it even better! After we have drawn all 52 weekly winners, we’re going to give everyone who didn’t win another chance…so you get 53 chances to win. And to sweeten the pot a bit more, we’re going to take all 52 winners, put their names in the hat and draw again, guaranteeing that at least one lucky person will win 2 guns! The average retail value of these guns will be  approximately $800!!

And to make it even better, for a $100 donation, we’ll give you 3 tickets!
For more information about the drawing and to see who has won guns this year, check out this link.

Folks in the outdoor community recognize that the one-time events don’t cut it as far as getting kids to become a hunter (I think the same probably applies to them becoming shooters or fishermen). Again, this is where our program makes a difference. Recruiting mentors who spend at least a couple of days/month involved in outdoor activities with a kid is what it takes, especially with kids who aren’t connected to nature.

Again, your generous donations are what provides Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors with the resources we need to give these kids the opportunity to get outdoors.
We hope you will step up with a generous donation to keep the ball rolling!

Please click on the button below Now!!

 

 

 

 

2015 Kansas Travel, Outdoor, State Park Guides available

Planning a Kansas excursion is easy with print, online guides

 

The 2015 editions of the Kansas Travel Guide, Kansas Outdoors and KansasState Parks, the official guides to experiencing the SunflowerState, are now available. Published by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), each publication is packed with stunning photographs, tips, information and brief descriptions of activities, events and places to experience. These new guides join the recently-released Kansas Byways Guide to give visitors plenty of ways to plan a Kansas experience – whether it’s a daytrip, weekend getaway or longer vacation.

The 2015 Kansas Travel Guide features more than 140 pages and highlights culinary trails of Kansas, fun and surprising facts about the state, hands-on science and natural history attractions and more. Readers can learn about a variety of Kansas destinations, activities and events and browse hundreds of listings for things to see and do and places to stay or eat. Subscribers to Kansas! magazine will find the travel guide bundled with the Spring edition of their magazine.

In Kansas Outdoors, readers will be treated to 54 pages of helpful information to plan an outdoor excursion in Kansas. An outdoor bucket list feature includes 15 suggestions for trips, activities and destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. Also included are features about hiking in Kansas, bird-watching, Cobalt boats and “Remington,” the most accomplished dog in Kansas. As always, there are hundreds of resource listings for outdoor sights, trips, camping, hunting, hiking and fishing.

The 45-page Kansas State Parks guide brings readers information about each of the 26 Kansas state parks, complete with color photographs, suggestions for events and daytrips, brief descriptions of each park, lists of amenities and special notes about select parks. Information about park trails, activities, events, cabins and helpful resources is also included. Kansas State Parks will be bundled with future editions of Kansas Wildlife and Parks and KANSAS! magazines.

The guides are perfect complements to KDWPT’s two websites – TravelKS.com and KSOutdoors.com, so the right tool to help adventurers explore the state is within easy reach.

The guides are free and are available at KDWPT offices and state travel information centers. To request a travel, outdoor or byway guide, visit TravelKS.com and click on the Travel Guide photo at the top of the page. To request a state park guide or any of the other three guides, call 1-800-2Kansas (1-800-252-6727) or email [email protected]. For digital and downloadable versions of the Kansas State Parks guide visit KSOutdoors.com, and then click on State Parks.

Moth Cocoons in the winter

Moth cocoon

Moth Cocoons in Winter

by Ted Beringer

Now that the leaves have fallen, your unobstructed eyesight may spot tiny wonderful structures constructed by moths or other insects dangling from small branches of trees and shrubs in the park or other relatively wild areas near your home (perhaps even in your own yard). Children get a kick out of discovering them. Cocoons are really hard to identify. Size and shape are your only clues.This one resembles a giant silkworm moth cocoon. It doesn’t have quite the shape of a Cecropia. It could be a Polyphemus, or maybe a Luna.There’s an excellent website dedicated to cocoons with all kinds of information. Check it out at Cocoon.org.

University of Kansas to study prairie-chickens

University will work with Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

 

By The Associated Press

 

The University of Kansas has a $2.1 million contract to study the Lesser Prairie-chicken.

The university will work with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to track the federally threatened species in hopes of conserving the birds’ habitat.

A conservation plan by the association calls for voluntary cooperation from industries in Colorado, Oklahoma,Texas, New Mexico and Kansas.

Kansas has the largest prairie-chicken population of those states.

The Kansas Biological Survey, a part of KansasUniversity, for five years will monitor the location and costs of projects that impact the animal’s habitat.

The plan is to encourage industries to build in clusters rather than spreading over a lot of territory.

Kansas Biological Survey research associate Mike Houts says fewer prairie-chickens means changes to shortgrass and shrubland habitats.

2015 Fishing Regulations Summary now online

Anglers can download the 2015 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary at www.ksoutdoors.com

 

It’s never too early to begin planning your next fishing trip – that’s why an online version of the 2015 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary has been made available to anglers at ksoutdoors.com. Simply visit ksoutdoors.com and click “Fishing / Fishing Regulations” to download your copy of the free, easy-to-use, full-color pamphlet. Printed copies will be available wherever licenses are sold by mid-January.

Apart from a helpful section highlighting new regulations for the 2015 season, the summary also includes information on important fishing regulations such as special seasons, creel and length limits, license fees and legal fishing methods. Because creel and length limits vary from lake to lake, the 2015 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary is a must-read for all anglers.

Included in a special 16-page section, the summary also lists all public waters, along with their location and any special regulations in effect. At the turn of a page, anglers can see which community lakes don’t charge extra fees for fishing, as well as community lakes designated as Family Friendly Facilities (FFF) that will include flush toilet facilities, security patrols, security lighting, easy access to the water and do not allow alcohol.

Anglers can also read up on aquatic nuisance species (ANS), as well as regulations governing the use of live baitfish. Five pages are devoted to fish identification, featuring color illustrations by renowned fish illustrator Joe Tomelleri. Current state record fish are listed, and there is also a Master Angler Award Application for anglers who catch fish that qualify for this certificate award program.

Make a spot for the 2015 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary in your tackle box. You just might find it adds a little more luck to your lures this season.