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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Support Reauthorization of the Land & Water Conservation Fund

By Ted Beringer

The Land & Water Conservation Fund (L&WCF) is up for renewal and needs to be reauthorized to continue its valuable work after September 30th, 2015. No tax dollars are required because it is funded by a tiny portion of royalties paid by gas & oil companies for the right to drill offshore in publicly owned waters. Since its inception in 1965 by both political parties, gas & oil companies have paid for over 40,000 projects across the country. Kansas has received over $50 million for 650 projects distributed over nearly every county. Over the last five years alone, proceeds from this fund have paid for improvements in 10 Kansas state parks including: Crawford State Park, Milford State Park, Elk City State Park, Eisenhower State Park, Hillsdale State Park, Cedar Bluff State Park, Kanopalis State Park, Scott State Park, Perry State Park, and Prairie Dog State Park.

Kansas State representatives need to hear from their constituents that you favor reauthorization of the L&WCF.

Simply contact your representative by email to voice your support for the L&WCF; and, passionately encourage them to vote for its reauthorization before September 30th. Their email addresses are listed below.

Representative Tim Huelskamp: https://huelskamp.house.gov/contact/email-me

Representative Lynn Jenkins: https://lynnjenkins.house.gov/contact-me/

Representative Kevin Yoder: https://yoder.house.gov/contact/email-me

Representative Mike Pompeo: http://pompeo.house.gov/contact/

 

 

 

KDWPT: Mountain lion seen in Barton County

 

Video from a trail cam shows a mountain lion north of Great Bend in the Barton Hills area.

 

Officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism have confirmed the video.

The short 20 second video that was shot at 10:06 p.m. on September 7th, made the rounds on Facebook.

 

It was a video that has also been seen by Wildlife and Parks biologist Charlie Swank who says he checked out the area and confirmed that the video was authentic.

 

“We go out and check and make sure the area matches the photograph or vide we receive,” said Swank. “We’ve had everything from pigs, dogs, house cats and more show up and be called a mountain lion.”

 

Swank says having mountain lions in Kansas is nothing new, but with the advent of trail cams they can now get a better handle of the number of cats that move through the state.

 

The first confirmed mountain lion in Kansas in modern times was shot and killed in 2007 in Barber County in south-central Kansas.

 

Ten more have been verified since then, for a total of 11 confirmed sightings.

 

The latest sighting prior to the recent sighting in Barton County was confirmed last August in Rooks County, north of Webster Reservoir.

 

Over 100 organizations deliver letter opposing cuts to conservation

 

On Thursday, September 17, more than 100 organizations from around the country delivered a letter urging the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to “protect mandatory funding for farm bill conservation programs, support robust discretionary funding for Conservation Technical Assistance, and reject any attempt to undermine highly erodible land and wetland conservation compliance” in fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations legislation. A broad range of groups joined NSAC to send the letter, including the National Farmers Union, National Wildlife Federation, Kansas Rural Center, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, League of Women Voters, and many others.

Congressional appropriators are currently negotiating final appropriations legislation for FY 2016. In previous years, appropriators have used a back-door budget gimmick called “Changes in Mandatory Program Spending” (CHIMPS) to cut farm bill direct spending, which is under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Committees, not the Appropriations Committees. For example, the FY 2015 Appropriations Act cut the 2014 Farm Bill’s funding for conservation by over $650 million.

 

In June and July, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed FY 2016 agriculture appropriations bills that cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the farm bill Conservation Title, on top of the dramatic reduction in conservation spending already made by the 2014 Farm Bill and sequestration. The proposed FY 2016 cuts would further reduce conservation enrollments by millions of acres and hamper efforts by farmers, ranchers, and foresters to conserve water, maintain their soil, and prepare for extreme weather events.

 

In addition to opposing cuts to mandatory spending for conservation programs, the letter urges appropriators to adopt the Senate funding level of $855 million for discretionary Conservation Operations, which includes Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA). USDA’s ability to deliver conservation programs to farmers and ranchers depends heavily on on-the-ground technical assistance. “We must not hamstring our investment in conservation by under-funding technical assistance,” the letter states.

 

Finally, the letter urges congressional negotiators to reject a controversial policy rider included in the House bill. The rider would delay by one year the implementation of basic soil and water conservation requirements established by the 2014 Farm Bill. When the rider was initially added to the House bill last spring, there was concern that a significant number of producers had missed a June 1 deadline to self-certify compliance with conservation requirements. In the months that followed, USDA took extraordinary steps to address the problem by working with each and every one of the two percent of producers who did not file their self-certification forms on time. In most cases, USDA found that forms were not filed because the producer on record was no longer farming. Among the tiny fraction of active operations that did not initially self-certify, nearly every one has now done so, securing eligibility for taxpayer-funded crop insurance premium assistance.

 

“We believe that the concerns that prompted the policy rider have been addressed administratively and do not require any legislative action,” the letter states.

 

Read our previous blog post for more information on the state of appropriations as we approach the end of the fiscal year.

Free entrance and healthy fun at Kansas State Parks Sept. 26

 

If it’s been a while since you’ve visited a Kansas state park, consider this you’re formal invitation to come on back! The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has teamed up with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas (BCBSKS) to offer Healthy Fun at the State Parks Day, Sept. 26; a day when admission to all Kansas state parks will be free.

 

“We are pleased to once again partner with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and sponsor Healthy Fun at the State Parks Day, Sept. 26. As a home-grown and Kansas-based company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas wants our members – and all Kansans – to lead longer, happier lives by engaging in outdoor activity, like these you can find at our state parks,” said Andrew C. Corbin, BCBSKS president/CEO. “From one corner of the state to the next, Kansas offers a vast array of landscapes in our parks where we can bike, hike, run, play, horseback ride, hunt, swim, and fish or simply take a relaxing walk in the fresh air of Kansas.”

 

In recognition of the special day, BCBSKS has produced a coloring book featuring illustrations that highlight outdoor activities in eight of the Kansas state parks and a map of all 26 state park locations. Information about the parks and educational tips are also included. Coloring books will be available across the state at state park locations, rest stops, tourism offices and the Kansas State Fair.

 

“So many Kansans are unaware of the unique terrain and beautiful landscapes that can be found at Kansas state parks and the fun and healthy outdoor activities that can be enjoyed at each of the parks,” said KDWPT Secretary Robin Jennison. “We appreciate the efforts of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas to promote a healthy lifestyle to their members and all Kansans. We’re pleased that the Kansas state parks have been selected to serve as the centerpiece of this campaign.”

 

Kansas state parks include 32,200 acres of land; more than 500 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails; more than 280 miles of roads; 10,000 campsites, many with utility hookups; more than 120 rental cabins; and access to more than 130,000 acres of water.

 

To find a park near you, visit www.ksoutdoors.com/State-Parks.

Prairie pollinator party at Great Plains Nature Center

 

Have you heard the buzz? Staff at the Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 E. 29th Street North, Wichita, are gearing up for the annual Prairie Pollinator Party Saturday, Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. and you’re invited.

 

Join the nature center staff as they celebrate winged things like our state insect, the honey bee, and all its many buzzin’ cousins who pollinate plants. From bee films in the Coleman Auditorium and arts and crafts, to face painting and indoor and outdoor activities, this free event is sure to be fun for the whole family.

 

Other activities include a presentation by Great Plains Nature Center director, Jim Mason, at 1 p.m. on the migration of the monarch butterfly as part of the 2015 Wichita Big Read.

 

Attendees can also sign up for one of the nature center’s “Introduction to Backyard Beekeeping” workshops, and taste a variety of honeys and honey products for sale in the Owl’s Nest gift shop, courtesy of local beekeepers.

 

For more information, call (316) 683-5499 or visit www.gpnc.org.

KDWPT’s Dan Hesket recognized for boating safety work

 

Major Dan Hesket, Law Enforcement Division assistant director for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT), was awarded the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ (NASBLA) Bonner Award on September 15. The prestigious award was presented to Hesket during the 56th Annual NASBLA Conference, held in Wichita, Sept. 13-16.

 

Hesket has worked in the KDWPT’s Law Enforcement Division for 26 years and became a leader in the boating safety field while working at Wilson Reservoir early in his career. There, he worked with the local marina and boat businesses to promote safe boating and compliance of boating laws. Hesket produced several boating safety programs and created the first public hands-on personal watercraft course, which is still in use today. Hesket also developed an officer training course, laying the groundwork for the use of the personal watercraft in boating law enforcement.

 

In 1992, Hesket was promoted to a boating enforcement specialist position stationed near Wichita. In that capacity, he worked closely with KDWPT’s then boating law administrator, Jeff Gayer, to strengthen the boating under the influence (BUI) laws and get department personnel trained in Standard Field Sobriety Testing procedures. He wrote the BUI check-lane procedure manual in 1994 and took the lead in BUI detection efforts.

 

In 2002, Hesket was promoted to assistant director in charge of the Law Enforcement Boating Program, and he immediately began work to improve the image of the recreational boating program. In 2004, Hesket became the state’s boating law administrator. That same year, he carried a bill to the Kansas Legislature, proposing extensive amendments to boating-related statutes and succeeded in getting the majority of them passed unscathed.

 

The Bonner Award is a tribute to congressman Herbert C. Bonner of North Carolina, father of the Federal Boating Act of 1958. The award is presented to a government official for outstanding performance in the field of recreational boating safety. Any representative of state or federal government in active service or retired (living at the time of selection) is eligible for the award.

 

NASBLA is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety, representing recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories. To learn more about how NASBLA helps keep our waterways safe, secure and enjoyable, visit www.nasbla.org.

Kansas Wetlands Education Center butterfly festival

 

Spread your wings and introduce your family to the fun of butterflies at the Kansas Wetland Education Center’s Butterfly Festival, Sept. 19 at 9 a.m. From making milkweed seed bombs to tagging monarch butterflies, kids and adults will find plenty to do during this free event. New this year, kids and adults can try their hand at silk spinning, using actual silk moth cocoons, a process that is thousands of years old.

 

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.

 

Weather permitting, an exhibit bee hive will be on display in the insect zoo in addition to giant walking stick insects, hissing and peppered cockroaches, and butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalises. 

 

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; and 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. Prizes will be given away at noon.

 

The Kansas Wetlands Education Center is located at the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, 592 NE K156 Hwy, and offers a unique look at the wetland’s history and conservation value.

 

For more information on this event and the education center, call 1-877-243-9268, or visit www.wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu.

 

Lake Scott State Park to host youth day

 

Staff at Lake Scott State Park, located 14 miles north of Scott City, invite youth age 16 and younger to join in on outdoor shooting fun Sunday, Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. as part of the 2015 Southwest Kansas Youth Day. Participants will have the opportunity to shoot shotguns, BB guns, and archery equipment, as well as enjoy live snake presentations, courtesy of Fort Hays State University.

 

Lunch will be provided, and all registered youth will receive an event t-shirt. Youth age 9-16 will have a chance to win giveaway items including mentored hunts, shotguns, and pellet guns. Giveaways will also be available for youth 9 and under, as well.

 

For more information, or to register for this event, contact Manuel Torres at (620) 966-8570, or by e-mail at manuel.torres@ksoutdoors.com.

 

This event is made possible by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Pheasants Forever, and Extreme Fowl.