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Monthly Archives: December 2015

Landowners invited to CRP sign-up workshops

 

A general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is open from Dec. 1, 2015 - Feb. 26, 2016 at Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices across the state and landowners are encouraged to attend a nearby workshop for details. Whether you have existing crop ground, expiring CRP, or expired CRP that is still in grass, FSA and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism staff want to work with you. New contracts will range from 10 and 15 years in length and will begin October 1, 2016.

 

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alongside state and county conservation partners, will be present at each workshop to deliver up-to-date information on the program.

 

For a complete list of workshops, visit the Kansas Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever website, www.kansaspfqf.org.

 

Landowners who have already made an appointment with an FSA office are still welcome to attend a workshop.

Sproul Family Receives 2015 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award

 

Bill Sproul and his family, who operate a 2,200-acre stocker ranch in Chautauqua County, received the first Kansas Leopold Conservation Award in November. The award honors Kansas landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources, and was presented by the Sand County Foundation in partnership with the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas (RTK).

 

When the Sprouls purchased their land, it had a long history of being overgrazed and was rapidly transforming into woodland. After removing the invasive woody plants, they transformed the land back into native tallgrass prairie and implemented a patch-burn grazing program. While the cattle graze the burned areas, the unburned grass accumulates, providing habitat for wildlife and fuel for future burns.

 

Sproul always considers the long-term consequences of his decisions on prairie health. When drought reduced forage production, he reduced stocking rates to help the land recover, even if it meant deferring grazing altogether on some rangeland. When asked about his approach to conservation, Sproul said, “I let the prairie dictate what I do.”

 

Over the past eight years, Sproul has worked with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to conduct annual breeding bird surveys on his ranch. He has also worked with Kansas State University to perform studies on the effects of patch-burn grazing on pollinator populations.

 

The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of renowned conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. Award applicants are judged based on their demonstration of improved resource conditions, innovation, long-term commitment to stewardship, sustained economic viability, community and civic leadership and multiple use benefits.

 

The $10,000 award, and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold, was presented to the Sproul family at the KACD annual convention in Wichita on November 23.

 

“The Sproul ranch is an outstanding example of conservation and truly exemplifies Aldo Leopold’s land ethic,” said Jim Krueger, KACD Executive Director. “Their careful stewardship of the land will help ensure their unique landscape is preserved for generations to come. As the first recipients of the Kansas Leopold Conservation Award, the Sprouls have set the bar high going forward.”

 

“The Ranchland Trust of Kansas is proud that one of our charter members was chosen as the first Kansas recipient of the Leopold Conservation Award,” said Bill Eastman, RTK Chair of the Board. “We know first-hand the conservation and stewardship of the Sproul family. It is a great pleasure to see their efforts and leadership being recognized with an award that epitomizes the conservation movement in America.”

 

The Leopold Conservation Award Program in Kansas is made possible thanks to the generous support of Clean Line Energy Partners, Ducks Unlimited, ITC Great Plains, NextEra Energy Resources, Westar Energy, KDWPT, DuPont Pioneer, The Mosaic Company and The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

Kansas Wildlife and Parks magazine announces photography contest winners

 

For the third year running, Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine staff have not been disappointed by the entries received in the “Wild About Kansas” photography contest. What used to be a contest only open to youth age 18 and younger was expanded to accept entries from photographers of all ages and skill levels.

 

A total of 124 participants submitted work this year in hopes of landing on the pages of Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine, and 24 of them will realize that dream in the 2016 January/February photo issue. To obtain a copy of the special photo issue out in early January, call (620) 672-5911, or become a subscriber at ksoutdoors.com by clicking “Publications,” then “KDWPT Magazine.”

 

“Wild About Kansas is really about appreciating Kansas outdoors from all perspectives,” said Kansas Wildlife & Parks managing editor, Nadia Marji. “We’ve seen incredible photos taken from the heart of the suburbs, and we’ve seen equally stunning photos taken from the middle of the prairie. It’s just a true testament to the diversity of our state and all that our landscape has to offer.”

 

Photos were judged based on creativity, composition, subject matter, lighting, and overall sharpness. The 2015 “Wild About Kansas” award winners are as follows:

 

WILDLIFE

Adult

1st- Tony Pianalto, “Sumac Buck”

2nd- Chuck Gibson, “Great Blue Heron”

3rd- Dale Roark, “Towhee”

Honorable Mention- Aaron Thompson, “Focused Eagle”

 

Youth

1st- Amelia Kilmer, “Monarch”

2nd- Ross Ifland, “Upland Sandpiper”

3rd- Christina Craig, “Halloween Pennant”

Honorable Mention- Julien Reynard, “Moonlight Geese”

 

LANDSCAPE

Adult

1st- Aaron Thompson, “Wood Skeleton”

2nd- Tony Ifland, “Dewy Prairie Morning”

3rd- Robert Dilla, “Foggy Sunrise”

Honorable Mention- Jay Miller, “Kansas Night Sky”

 

Youth

1st- Christina Craig, “Almost Spring”

2nd- Grace Young, “Marais Des Cygnes”

3rd- Amelia Kilmer, “Tree Arch”

Honorable Mention- Julien Reynard, “Sunset in The Spring”

 

OUTDOOR RECREATION

Adult

1st- Tony Ifland, “Duck Season Training”

2nd- Darrell Skrdlant, “Flying High”

3rd- Ken Brunson, “Sylvie Spots Mushrooms”

Honorable Mention- Chuck Gibson, “Gone Fishin’”

 

Youth

1st- Katelyn Ifland, “Camping Moonrise”

2nd- Callie Bowley, “Kansas Winter Trout”

3rd- Christina Craig, “Fishing on Glass”

Honorable Mention- Andrew Fischer, “Hunting Sunset”

 

Details on the 2016 contest will be made available after the New Year on www.ksoutdoors.com.

Avian cholera detected at Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira

 

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) staff at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Barton County, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge just 30 miles to the south are closely monitoring waterfowl populations at the wetlands after dead geese were observed. Staff at both areas picked up dead birds last week and sent samples for testing.

 

Lab results confirmed that avian cholera, a contagious disease resulting from infection by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, was the cause of death. This strain of bacteria commonly affects geese, coots, gulls and crows. Most of the dead birds found have been snow geese. 

 

“We picked up about 30 dead geese on Monday, December 14,” said Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area manager Karl Grover. “Those birds had died between last Friday and Monday, so we’re seeing about 10 dead birds a day. We estimate that the Bottoms is holding between 75,000 and 150,000 geese, half of which are snows, and about 10,000 ducks.”

 

USFWS staff at Quivira NWR gave similar estimates. Refuge manager Mike Oldham said some geese moved off of the refuge after the weekend. 

 

“We probably have about 80,000 geese and about half of them are snow geese,” Oldham said. “We’re picking up about 4-5 dead birds per day.”

 

While it’s not uncommon for a contagious disease to affect waterfowl when large numbers are concentrated, avian cholera deaths are not common in Kansas. According to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, humans are not at high risk for infection with the bacteria strain causing avian cholera. However, it’s recommended that hunters and their dogs avoid contact with any sick or dead birds.

 

Avian cholera quickly overcomes infected birds, resulting in death in as little as 6-12 hours, although 24-48 hours is more common. Infected birds may exhibit signs such as convulsions, throwing head back between wings, swimming in circles, erratic flight and miscalculated landing attempts.

 

Avian cholera should not be confused with avian influenza, which is a highly pathogenic virus that infected millions of poultry flocks in the upper Midwest last summer. 

 

‘Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors’ get kids playing outside again

 

By Cameron Gray

Opportunity Lives blog

NRA News

 

When we were kids in the 1970s and ’80s, the rule was go outside and play, and don’t come home until sunset. We rode our bikes all over town, explored the woods behind our houses, set up forts, and had the time of our lives. Today, sadly, kids don’t get outside that much and parents are increasingly afraid of letting them out of the house unsupervised. Government authorities have detained children walking to the park or playing a block away from home. Technology, especially video games, has kept kids indoors and sedentary.

 

Lately, however, there has been a concerted effort by organizations around the country to fix this problem, and to get kids out of the house. One of those groups is Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors.

 

Pass It On started in 1999 as a partnership between the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks and Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters. Kansas had just implemented the state’s first youth upland hunting season, and the Wildlife & Parks Department recognized a need for people to coax more children and teens outdoors for hunting and fishing. Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters hired Mike Christensen as director of outdoor mentoring in 2002.

 

“Big Brothers Big Sisters’ interest in setting up an outdoor mentoring program was seen as a way to attract more men to mentoring,” Christensen explained. “It was a win-win-win. Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks saw more kids getting outdoors, Big Brothers Big Sisters got more men as mentors and the kids got to go hunting and fishing with a positive role model.”

In 2006, Pass It On spun off from Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters, with Christensen left in charge of the program.

 

Pass It On has found that, typically, youth mentoring organizations have a standing list of kids who need or want a mentor. They are especially in need of men, as about three-quarters of waiting lists tend to be boys. Pass It On targets established outdoor organizations such as Pheasants Forever, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Ducks Unlimited to find men and women with an interest in sharing time outdoors with a child. Because safety is always crucial, Pass It On works closely with its partner organizations, who conduct background checks and manage the matches once they are made.

 

Christensen admits that it’s not always easy to get kids interested. “A couple of years ago, we had a young boy whose mom had to literally shove him out of her car when dropping him off for one of our events,” he recalled. “By the end of the day, he was all excited and couldn’t wait to go again. He had no idea what we were going to be doing that day. It was a day spent with the local bird dog club, who took everyone to a member’s ranch. We set up clay target shooting and the kids did some fishing. He was more than ready to go again.”

 

Pass It On takes kids on many and varied outdoor adventures, depending on the season. In the spring, it’s fishing, turkey hunting and shooting clays at the range. Summertime means fishing and target shooting. In the fall and winter, the mentors take kids deer, waterfowl, dove and upland hunting. Outings could be as small as one or two kids, or as large as 300 participants.

Christensen is proud of a new initiative, the First Hunt program, in which Pass It On offers a first hunt to new hunter education graduates.

 

“We take up to 20 new hunters at a time to the field, where we give them some shotgun instruction, and then have them ‘hunt’ for pheasants we’ve placed in bird launchers,” he explained. “This lets us conduct a very safe, controlled hunt for these new hunters, emphasizing what they have learned in the class. These First Hunt events are open to any and all new hunter education graduates.”

 

One of the many great things Pass It On — Outdoor Mentors sees is children and teens that continue with outdoor activities. Christensen says that the first boy he mentored, Dana, now hunts and fishes on a regular basis, taking his younger brother along with him on many occasions. Dana, along with other former participants, also volunteers to help mentor other kids, “passing it on.”

 

When Christensen asked about the nicest things he’s heard from people he has worked with over the years, he readily answers: “From the kids, ‘When can I go again?’ And we hear that a lot. Hearing that means that we did our job, providing a safe, memorable event and that they want more. The seed has been planted. Now we need to cultivate it! It doesn’t get any better than that,” he said.

 

“The kids get excited,” he added. “Their self-confidence grows. Their self-esteem is boosted. They see themselves in a different light having gone hunting and having spent time outdoors doing things that are way out of their comfort zone.”

 

Parents often say “thank you.”

“We really appreciate it when the parents see the positive changes to the kids from participating in these events,” Christensen said.

 

As for the mentors, Christensen said they often tell him they get more out of the program than the kids. “Mentoring a child can be a tremendously rewarding experience,” he said. “Getting to see the outdoors through the eyes of a child experiencing it for the first time is a truly neat and rewarding experience for the mentor.”

 

Pass It On covers all of the costs for the kids. The group asks the volunteers to cover any costs they may incur. Many of the kids they work with come from low-income families, and Christensen says they don’t want cost to discourage anyone from getting outdoors. Thanks to generous supporters, Pass It On can provide opportunities for kids who wouldn’t be able to participate otherwise.

 

But Christensen laments, “We never have ‘enough’ money. We use every penny we get to do as many events [and] activities as we can. Funding is always a struggle as I’m sure it is for most nonprofits. But we have a core of supporters who have been tremendous in their support of our efforts to get more kids outdoors. If we had more funds, we would be able to do more events and get more kids outdoors.”

 

If you want to help Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, you can do so in two ways:

 

1) Give your time. Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors is always in need of men and women willing to share their time outdoors with a child a couple of times a month. Any outdoors activity to share with a youngster is great, like taking them hunting and fishing, going to the range, going scouting, setting up tree stands and planting food plots.

 

2) Donate your money. “We desperately need financial assistance,” Christensen said. “The funds we raise are put to use hosting events, that give those new to the outdoors a chance to gain experience with the assistance of a mentor. We never have enough.”

 

If you would like to find out more about Pass It On – Outdoor Mentors, and to donate, visit http://outdoormentors.org.

 

Cameron Gray is a contributor for Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter @Cameron_Gray.

Landowners earn income for allowing fishing access

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats Program (F.I.S.H.) pays landowners to allow fishing access to their private ponds and streams. F.I.S.H. is patterned after the hugely popular Walk-In Hunting Access program (WIHA), and both programs were designed to increase access to quality hunting and fishing opportunities across Kansas. Because more than 97 percent of Kansas land is privately owned, providing hunting and fishing access to private land is a KDWPT priority.

 

The F.I.S.H program leases private waters from landowners and opens them to public fishing. Landowners participating in F.I.S.H. receive payments for the use of their land, and anglers are in turn provided with a place to fish that might not have been available otherwise. The enrollment deadline for 2016 is December 15, 2015.

 

Special regulations are in place for F.I.S.H. properties, and KDWPT officials periodically patrol the areas. Violators will be ticketed or arrested for vandalism, littering or failing to comply with fishing regulations. Access is limited to foot traffic, except on roads designated by the landowner in the case of very large tracts of land. Additionally, under this program some landowners are eligible for fish stocking, habitat management, fence crossers, cattle guards, rock boat ramps, or rocked parking areas.

 

Each year, KDWPT publishes a fishing atlas, featuring maps that show each body of water enrolled in the program, boating allowance, and fish species available. Most F.I.S.H. sites are open for public access from March 1 to October 31, but some contracts pay landowners more to allow year-round access.

 

Pond Leasing

Privately-owned ponds are leased by the acre with base lease rates ranging from $75 to $125 /acre/year, depending on where the pond is located. Boating allowance bonuses are available, as well. Ponds allowing carry-in boats are eligible for an additional $10/acre/year, and properties allowing all boats access (adequate launching site must be present) are eligible for an additional $25/acre/year.

 

Stream Leasing

Annual lease rates for stream fishing access range from $500 to $1,500/mile/year, depending on the quality of the fisheries.

 

River Access Leasing

The Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri rivers are considered navigable waters and are open to public use between the ordinary high-water marks. However, adjacent land is often privately owned, and public access points are limited. To increase public access to these rivers, the F.I.S.H. program leases access sites from willing landowners. Landowners with adequate launch facilities receive $1,500/site/year. If the site is within 10 river miles of any other public access site, a landowner can receive $2,000/site/year.

 

For more information on enrolling your water in the F.I.S.H. program, contact your nearest KDWPT office, or the Pratt Operations office at (620) 672-5911. You can also learn more about F.I.S.H. at www.ksoutdoors.com.

Last chance to buy lifetime license before fees increase

 

As 2015 winds to a close, there are several important things Kansas hunters and anglers need to know: 2015 licenses expire December 31. All 2016 licenses will go on sale December 15, and if you purchase a 2016 license before January 1, it is valid through the rest of 2015 and all of 2016.

You should also know that fees will increase for 2016. However, new license options provide significant savings. Remember, too, that lifetime licenses can be purchased through December 31, 2015 at the current price – $440. The new fee will be $500 for a lifetime fishing, hunting or furharvesting license, beginning January 1, 2016. A combination fishing/hunting combination license will cost $960.

 

The new fee for an annual fishing or hunting license will be $25. However, if you purchase an annual combination hunting/fishing license before February 1, the price is $40. After February 1, an annual combination hunting/fishing license will cost $45.

 

Another way to save is to purchase the 5-year hunting and fishing licenses. A five-year hunting or fishing license is $100, a $25 savings over purchasing the license every year. And a 5-year hunt/fish combination license is $180, a $70 savings over purchasing each license individually every year.

 

Hunting and fishing licenses make great stocking stuffers and a lifetime license is truly a gift that keeps on giving. You will find the application for a lifetime hunting, fishing or furharvesting license and see all new fees for 2016 at www.ksoutdoors.com.

Get in the Christmas bird count spirit

 

It is the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you enjoy birdwatching. Christmas Bird Count traditions provide a great way to spend time outdoors, learn about birds and enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded birders. And the best part: it’s free.

 

Birders of all skill levels are welcome to the events, where groups will spend time canvassing established circular census areas, recording species and numbers of birds observed. Information recorded at events is entered into regional and national databases and can show population and migration trends. Some Christmas Bird Counts have been conducted for more than 100 years, and more than 2,000 events are conducted across the U.S. each year, so databases are extensive. There are usually more than 50 events conducted in Kansas each winter between Dec. 13 and January 9.

 

To learn more about Kansas Christmas Bird Count locations, go to the Kansas Ornithological Society’s (KOS) website, www.ksbirds.org. You’ll find a list of events scheduled to date, along with locations and contact information. To learn more about Audubon-sponsored events go to www.audubon.org.

 

All you need to participate is clothing appropriate for traipsing outdoors on a mid-winter day, a pair of binoculars, and a good field guide. Spotting scopes are handy if large wetlands or reservoirs are included in the census area. Add in a little adventurous spirit and some good friends and you have the recipe for a great day in the Kansas outdoors.

Low acceptance rates reflect continued conservation cuts

 

From National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

 

As Congress continues to negotiate funding levels for fiscal year (FY) 2016, key conservation programs are once again on the chopping block. The severe magnitude of those cuts are described at the end of this post.

 

As we write this, congressional leaders and appropriators are in the final stretch of making the government funding decisions for FY 2016, with the potential of reducing or eliminating the farm bill conservation program cuts in light of extra funding recently provided by the two-year budget deal.

 

Re-opening the 2014 Farm Bill to make these shortsighted cuts impacts the ability of farmers and ranchers to enroll in critical conservation programs, and this post illustrates just how dramatically these funding cuts have impacted program acceptance rates in recent years.

 

Working lands conservation programs help farmers and ranchers to protect and rebuild soil, provide clean water and habitat for native wildlife, sequester carbon, and supply other conservation and environmental benefits. To protect these benefits and the carefully negotiated 2014 Farm Bill, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) urges Congress to avoid any further backdoor cuts that will shut the door to conservation funding for even more farmers with eligible conservation proposals to protect and enhance the natural resource base on which our food security depends.

 

What’s at Stake?

 

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) are both administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and are the farm bill’s two large working lands conservation programs.

  • CSP provides farmers and ranchers technical and financial assistance to actively manage existing conservation and to implement additional conservation activities. CSP is the only comprehensive working lands conservation program designed to help farmers and ranchers adopt and maintain advanced land management conservation systems on land in agricultural production.
  • EQIP provides financial cost-share assistance and technical assistance for producers to implement basic conservation practices on working agricultural land. EQIP assistance is available through a general pool and also through special initiatives.

 

CSP and EQIP both had exceptionally low acceptance rates for FY 2015, at 27 and 23 percent respectively, which reflects not only the 2 to 1 ratio of demand to funding that we would expect under “normal” funding conditions, but also backdoor farm bill cuts in annual appropriations bills, as well as automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, were also in play during the last few rounds of conservation funding.

 

Only 27 Percent of CSP Applications Funded in FY 2015

 

In FY 2015, nearly 21,000 eligible producers applied for funding through CSP. This excludes applications that did not meet the minimum eligibility criteria. Of those eligible applicants, only 5,785 producers (27 percent) were funded in FY 15.

 

As the chart below illustrates, this represents a historic low in the percentage of eligible applicants that CSP is able to support. While CSP is indeed intended to support only the best stewards of the land, the 2015 acceptance rate reflects a dramatic disconnect between eligible stewards and available funding. Until 2015 NRCS had been able to fund approximately half of the eligible CSP applicants they received.

 

acceptance rates

 

Why was the 2015 Acceptance Rate So Low?

 

There are a number of factors that influence CSP funding each year, including most importantly the amount mandatory funding authorized in the farm bill, but also cuts known as “changes in mandatory program spending” (known as CHIMPS in congressional shorthand) made through the annual appropriations process, and automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration.” All of these factors combined in a kind of “perfect storm” that worked against farmers and ranchers who applied to CSP in FY 2015.

 

First, the 2014 Farm Bill decreased the annual enrollment in CSP down to 10 million acres, rather than 12.8 million acres per year as was the case under the 2008 Farm Bill. The new acreage cap meant that beginning in FY 2014, NRCS was able to enroll 2.8 million few acres in the program. This amounts to roughly an additional 2,000 farmers and ranchers who have to be turned away from the CSP each year.

 

While the enrollment cap of 10 million acres was also applied for the FY 2014 sign-up, the 2015 sign-up was further limited by an additional 23 percent cut, limiting program enrollment to 7.7 million acres, via the annual appropriations process. This CHIMPS cut directly cut into the ability of producers to enroll in key conservation programs, and fiscal year (FY) 2015’s historically low acceptance rate illustrates the damage done by continued cuts. The was no CHIMPS cut in FY 2014.

 

Finally, the sequestration process cut an additional over 7 percent of program funding (for both CSP and EQIP) in FY 2015. These automatic cuts keep getting extended by Congress and under current law will continue to cut farm bill farm until 2025, and hence will have a major impact on the 2018 Farm Bill process. These automatic spending cuts have so far impacted enrollment from 2013 through 2015, and will again influence 2016 enrollment, although we do not yet know the exact size of the cut.

 

These factors together, along with continued and increasing farmer demand for the program, are driving down acceptance rates and creating major backlogs, not to mention discouraged farmers and lost conservation opportunities.

 

Less than One Quarter of EQIP Applicants Accepted in 2015

 

In FY 2015, EQIP had a similarly low acceptance rate, as NRCS was only able to enroll 30,175, or 23 percent, of the nearly 130,000 eligible applicants. As the chart below illustrates, since 2011 it has become increasingly challenging for eligible EQIP applicants to receive cost-share support for critical conservation practices.

 

EQIP acceptance rates

 

While EQIP funding remained fairly level in the 2014 Farm Bill, one change from the farm bill that could be impacting the low acceptance rates in 2014 and 2015 is the increase, included in the 2014 Farm Bill, in the payment limit from $300,000 to $450,000 per contract. This increase in the upper payment limit means that large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and large operations expanding irrigated acres are able to commandeer more of the total funding, thus reducing access to the program for other farmers and ranchers.

 

Finally, in addition to farm bill changes, EQIP funding continues to suffer major cuts through CHIMPS in the annual appropriations process, as well as cuts through sequestration since 2013. The final FY 2015 appropriations bill cut EQIP by over $136 million, on top of the $117 million cut through sequestration.

 

Given that the CHIMPS cut to EQIP in FY 2014 was an even larger $274 million, it is possible that there were additional factors influencing 2015’s historically low acceptance rate, including the size of accepted applications, the timing of application periods, and NRCS program outreach at the state and local levels.

 

Looking Ahead to 2016 

 

The low acceptance and high backlog rates for CSP and EQIP reflect farmers and ranchers’ continued conservation demand across the country, as well as the serious cuts to these programs, year after year. The clock is ticking for Congress to finalize funding levels for 2016, and the proposed cut to CSP in the House Agriculture Appropriations bill and to EQIP in the Senate and House would have serious implications for eligible producers to enroll in critical conservation programs.

 

Given that the budget deal announced in late October lifted discretionary spending caps for FY 2016 and gave appropriators more money to work with, it is our hope that with the additional funding they will eliminate the 23 percent cut to CSP in the House bill and the over $300 million cut to EQIP in both the pending House and Senate bills. If not eliminated, these shortsighted cuts would force NRCS to turn away thousands additional of farmers and ranchers looking to improve soil and water quality, protect pollinators and habitat, conserve water, and prepare for extreme weather events.

 

Application periods for EQIP are open across the country, and we expect CSP (in an entirely new and redesigned form) to be rolled out early next year. Stay tuned for more information on program funding and sign-up periods in the coming weeks and months.

Electronic registration allows hunters to process deer before transport

 

Current Kansas regulations require hunters to tag their deer before being moved from the site of the kill. Unless a hunter has an either-sex permit, the head must remain attached to the carcass while in transit to a residence, place of commercial processing or place of preservation. For hunters who want to bone out deer onsite prior to transport, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) offers a voluntary electronic deer check-in system. To access the electronic deer check-in, visit www.ksoutdoors.com, and click “Hunting/Hunting Regulations/Deer/Electronic Registration.”

 

Electronic registration is completely voluntary, but it’s a convenient option that allows hunters to register their deer through the Internet, using photos taken at the harvest site. If Internet access is unavailable at the kill site, the hunter can retain the photographs while in transit and a registration number can be obtained later.

 

This registration process requires a hunter to submit two digital photographs — one close-up clearly showing the completed tag attached to the deer and a second showing the entire body of the deer with the head still attached. Once logged on to ksoutdoors.com, a hunter must submit the photos and enter the KDWPT number from their permit, time and date of the kill and the county where the deer was taken. A confirmation number will be issued by email when the photos and data are successfully received. This confirmation number must be retained during transportation.

The system allows KDWPT staff to see the deer and the hunter’s completed tag without the time and expense of maintaining physical check stations. This flexibility is a benefit to both the hunter and KDWPT.

 

For more information on big game regulations, consult the 2015 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, or visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting/Hunting Regulations.”

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