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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Land and Water Conservation grants improve communities

 

Does a park in your neighborhood need a new playground? Has your community been waiting for the right time to put in a new picnic shelter, ball fields or a dog park? Now, with the reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (LWCF), the time is right to make those projects happen.

 

LWCF grants have provided funding for more than 700 outdoor recreation projects throughout Kansas since its inception in 1965. Kansas has received more than $50 million that has helped create and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in almost every county.

 

Grants require 50 percent matches, and properties where grants are used must remain in pubic recreational use for perpetuity. Grants are available to cities, counties, school districts and other government entities. Funding is administered by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, through the National Park Service.

 

The application deadline is April 15, 2016, and competition for grants is intense, so it’s important that applications be accurately and thoroughly completed. To learn more about the application process and to download an application, go to ksoutdoors.com/KDWPT-Info/Grants.

2016 Fishing Forecast ready for anglers

 

Anglers like to keep their best fishing holes secret, but that’s hard to do now that the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) produces the annual fishing forecast. The forecast is a compilation of data gathered by KDWPT district fisheries biologists throughout the year. The data comes from sampling efforts, including test netting, electroshocking and creel surveys. The forecast presents this data in a format that lets anglers find waters that contain their favorite species in both good numbers and the size they prefer.

 

For example, if you like to catch crappie, you can use the forecast to find a reservoir, lake or pond where the biologist found lots of crappie during sampling efforts last fall. A quick look at the reservoir category for white crappie shows that John Redmond Reservoir is ranked No. 1 for Density Rating, which is the number of crappie longer than 8 inches caught per unit of sampling effort. If you’re more interested in quality-sized crappie, then look at the Preferred rating, which is the number of fish caught during sampling that were 10 inches long or longer. Again, John Redmond is No. 1, by a large margin. Two-thirds of the fish sampled in John Redmond last fall were longer than 10 inches. The Lunker Rating (crappie longer than 12 inches) for this lake is also No. 1 among Kansas reservoirs. So, John Redmond will be a great place to catch crappie this year, both in terms of numbers and size.

 

Theoretically, a reservoir with a Density Rating of 32 will have twice as many crappie 8 inches long or longer than a lake with a Density Rating of 16. However, there are often other factors that may influence sampling results, and some lakes may not be sampled every year, so the forecast includes other ratings such as the Biologist’s Rating. A biologist may feel that the numbers don’t accurately reflect the fish population, so they enter a rating of Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor. The Three-year Average is there because a lake may not have been sampled this past year. It shows an average of the past three years of Density Ratings. And finally, there is a Biggest Fish rating, which simply lists the biggest fish caught during sampling.

 

Anglers can view the forecast at www.ksoutdoors.com, and in printed brochures that will soon be available at KDWPT offices. Use the 2016 Fishing Forecast to find your own fishing hot spots this spring.

Regular goose seasons close Feb. 14, Conservation Order opens

 

The last of the regular waterfowl seasons close in February when Canada, white-fronted and light goose seasons end Feb. 14. However, under the Spring Conservation Order, light geese are still in season Feb. 15 through April 30, 2016. Light geese include snow and Ross’ geese.

 

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Conservation Order 16 years ago in an effort to use hunting to reduce the populations of light geese. The breeding population of mid-continent snow and Ross’ geese is estimated to exceed 5 million birds, an increase of more than 300 percent since the 1970s. A population this high is seriously degrading and even destroying the fragile arctic tundra habitat where the birds traditionally nest, impacting not only light geese but a variety of shorebird species that also nest on the tundra.

 

Biologists believe the population has grown for several reasons, including changes in farming practices on the Great Plains that provide abundant food for the birds during both fall and spring migrations. Also, light geese are relatively long-lived as far as migratory birds go, 8-20 years, and they travel in very large flocks, making them difficult to hunt.

 

Special regulations during the Conservation Order are designed to make hunters more effective. The shooting hours, which normally end at sunset during regular seasons, continue until one-half hour after sunset. A plug restricting the number of shells held in a shotgun’s magazine is not required, and electronic calls are allowed. To fool and attract large flocks of snow geese, hunters must set out hundreds or even thousands of decoys. An electronic call can make the decoy setup seem more realistic. There is no bag or possession limit for light geese during the conservation order.

The surprising way birds are trying to dodge climate change

 

New research shows that some birds are moving faster than ever to keep up with shifting climates. Here’s where they’re going.

 

By Purbita Saha

Audubon

 

We humans have our ways of coping with climate change: We’ll put down sandbags, escape pods, and even heat siphons to keep our homes from slipping away. But what about birds? How are they surviving bizarre rain patterns, extreme temperatures, and freak weather events?

 

Brooke Bateman has the answer to that. The post-doctorate ecologist from the University of Wisconsin, who once deciphered movements of Australian animals, wanted to figure out how breeding birds in North America were dealing with the havoc brought on by climate change. “How far and fast is climate change happening . . . that’s what I needed to know,” she says. With the help of scientists from Wisconsin and Australia, Bateman wove together climate data with location data for 285 North American species, and built models to show how rainfall, temperature, weather, and other variables affected every species’ distribution for every month of every breeding season from 1950 to 2011. (“I made a lot of models,” Bateman says.) Using the models as a reference, she then drew predictions on where the birds are ending up. The final results were published in Global Change Biology in December.

 

What do the models reveal?

There are two major curveballs in this study: First, birds are moving faster than we think, and second, they’re going places where we don’t suspect. Previous estimates had breeding ranges shifting by an average of .4 miles a year, but Bateman’s work proves that some species are moving at twice that speed, up to as much as 3 miles a year. The quickest drifters include meat eaters, insect eaters, and species that forage high up in the canopy or at the bottom of the forest floor (they’re probably stalking their prey to new spaces). Birds that are staying put include woodpeckers, hummingbirds, plant eaters, and non-migrants.

 

The direction of these movements is also unexpected. While the majority of the species are flying northward (as predicted), more than a quarter of them are creeping westward—specifically to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota. The Tufted Titmouse, for example, is expanding into the Midwest and finding its niche in human-dominated landscapes. Hooded Warblers are moving in that direction as well, but they’re more used to living in the thick forest understory, so adapting to the grasslands and wide-open plains will be a lot more difficult for them.

 

How does this study fit in with other related research?

In the continued saga of birds and climate change, findings like these can “help to complete the story,” Gary Langham, Audubon’s chief scientist, says. While the Audubon Birds and Climate Change Report (released in 2014) predicts how breeding and wintering ranges may shift and shrink over the next century, Bateman’s models take a deeper look at what’s causing the birds to relocate right now. And the snapshots from the past 60 years show that birds are already moving thanks to global warming. The responses, Langham says, are idiosyncratic: The birds aren’t just moving northward, and they’re not all magically adapting to their new surroundings.

 

The study’s present-day, species-specific approach is also important because it highlights which birds need the most help. For instance, Bateman’s models show that the Florida Scrub-Jay’s thin slice of habitat is being squeezed even more tightly. The Audubon Climate Report’s models point out that there will be other climate-suitable patches in California for these birds; but the jays probably won’t be able to find their way out there, Langham says. So rather than leaving species to adjust—or go extinct—on their own, humans will have to step in and give them a hand, by slowing down the pace of climate change and preserving critical landscapes.

 

Why is this helpful for conservation?

In Bateman’s perspective, birds have three options: They can move, stay and adapt, or stay and be wiped out. Knowing which option a species will choose can help conservation groups, like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (one of Bateman’s collaborators), pick out a rescue strategy. “We can put our money in places that have multiple species, and build connectivity between where the birds are and where they will be,” Bateman says. Unfortunately, birds and people tend to love the same landscapes: In the study, areas that gained the most species were also hot spots for development. Saving these lands through acquisition is crucial, Bateman says.

 

The study also offers some foresight on which spaces need to be preserved for current and future generations of birds. Survival isn’t the only thing species have to worry about when moving to a new breeding spot: “The big question is, can they create the next successful generation there?” Langham says. If they can’t, humans might need to step in. “Heroic efforts [by people] could buy at least 10 more generations of birds,” Langham says, “and that could be the difference in them being around.”

New partnership provides landowner assistance in range health improvements

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, in cooperation with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, and Kansas Grazing Coalition, are excited to announce a new partnership designed to assist landowners with range management and improvement projects. Termed the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), the newly-formed partnership will aim to improve overall range health in the Smoky Hills region of Kansas by providing cost-share assistance to landowners. The Smoky Hills are important to cattle producers and numerous wildlife species, but both are being threatened by invasive trees, noxious weeds and other sources of degradation. The RCPP seeks to address some of these issues and ultimately improve the health of Smoky Hill rangelands.

 

The RCPP will focus on 16 counties within the core of the Smoky Hills, with wildlife biologists designated for specific areas. Some land management practices that will be available for cost share under this collaborative effort include brush management, herbaceous weed control, prescribed burning and prescribed grazing. Landowners interested in more information about this partnership are encouraged to contact their local wildlife biologist for the county in which their land is located.

 

For counties Ellsworth, Russell, Lincoln, Saline, and Ottawa, contact James Svaty at (785) 658-2465 ext. 204. For counties Smith, Osborne, Jewell, Mitchell, Republic, and Cloud, contact Lucas Kramer at (785) 545-3345. For counties Washington, Clay, and Dickinson, contact Clint Thornton at (785) 461-5095. For Marion County, contact Jeff Rue at (316) 772-2706. For McPherson County, contact Kyle McDonald at (620) 662-2799.

Participants needed for Great Backyard Bird Count

 

In lieu of conducting the Kansas Winter Bird Feeder Survey this year, bird watchers around the state are asked to participate in the national Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) taking place Friday, Feb. 12 - Monday, Feb. 15. The GBBC is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all skill levels in counting birds from any location for as little as 15 minutes on one or more days of the event. Bird watchers can then report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org.

 

It’s free, fun and participants can feel good about playing an important role in the management and conservation of numerous bird species. Each submitted checklist provides valuable data to researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, as well as experts in other conservation organizations, who interpret those results to learn more about how birds are doing and how we can better protect them and their habitats.

 

For more information, visit www.birdcount.org.

Enjoy prime land access for Spring Turkey through Special Hunts

 

It’s hard to beat hunting turkeys during the spring season in Kansas. Weather has warmed up, birds are active and on the move, and it’s the start of a new hunting season. But what if there was a way to top this? There is. Try adding special access to quality lands not normally open to hunting, and it wouldn’t cost you a penny. If you think this sounds like a pipe dream, chances are, you aren’t familiar with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Special Hunts Program. Special Hunts provide access to public and private lands that are not open to unrestricted public access. There’s no fee to apply, the draw is open to residents and nonresidents, and opportunities abound, with 160 individual permits and 79 special hunts available for spring turkey this year. Applications are being accepted through 9 a.m. on Feb. 29. To apply, and to obtain detailed information on all available hunts, visit ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Special-Hunts-Information.

 

Out of the 79 hunts available, 29 are open hunts (open to all), 19 are mentor hunts (both beginner and mentor may hunt), and 31 are youth hunts (youth hunt only). These hunts will occur on nine separate land parcels spanning five counties, five wildlife areas, two city and county properties, one state park, and one national wildlife refuge.

 

Successful applicants will be notified shortly after the random drawing has occurred. Special Hunts only provides access, so hunters must still purchase all licenses and permits required by law.

 

For information on other spring turkey hunting opportunities, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting” and “Turkey Information.”

Become a Certified Angler Instructor

 

Most of us have had a mentor at some point in our lives who inspired us, taught us, and delighted in our successes. It’s a wonderful thing, but not everyone is so lucky, especially when it comes to having an outdoor mentor. By becoming a volunteer certified angler instructor through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Angler Education program, you’ll not only have an avenue for sharing your passion for angling with others, but you too, could be someone’s mentor. To get you started, a certification course will be held from 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Feb. 20 at Flint Hills Technical College, 3301 W 18th Ave., Emporia, in conference rooms A, B, and C. There is no cost to participate.

 

Topics covered will include current fishing regulations, species identification, fishing ethics, equipment, knot-tying, casting, fish habitat, aquatic nuisance species, and conservation practices. In addition to becoming certified, anglers will also receive sample curriculums and tips for preparing a class.

 

To register for this class, and to learn more, visit fishingsfuture.org/node/459/register or contact Phil Taunton at (620) 794-5373 or by e-mail at ptaunton7@gmail.com.

 

Participants must be 18 years old and pass a background check.

National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic

 

Kansas City Convention Center – February 19-21

 

Whatever your passion – whether it’s pheasants or quail, conservation, bird dogs, shooting, cooking, wild game, or passing on our hunting heritage to the next generation, 2016 National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic has something for you.

 

Space is filling up fast! Purchase your All Access Pass Today and receive:

  • Show badge for full weekend admission to show floor and seminars
  • Friday’s Bird Hunter’s Banquet with live entertainment from top rated Johnny

Cash tribute artist Gary West

  • Saturday’s Convention Lunch with featured speaker Howard Vincent,

President & CEO of Pheasants Forever, Inc & Quail Forever

  • Saturday night’s Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic Banquet featuring Dot

Records recording artist Drake White

 

Go to www.PheasantFest.org for full details of the event and purchase your tickets.

2016 Annual Meeting Registration Form

 

 

Yes – I am registering for the KWF Annual Meeting to be held February 26th at the Great Plains Nature Center at 6232 E. 29th St. N. and February 27th at the Hotel at Old Town Conference Center at 210 N. Mosley in Wichita.

 

Name _________________________________________________

 

Address _______________________________________________

 

City __________________________ State ____ Zip ___________

 

Telephone _____________________ E-mail __________________

 

Meeting Registration (includes Lunch):            ______ @ $20 (before 2-12-16)

______ @ $25 (after 2-12-16)

 

Conservation Achievement Banquet:  ______ @ $30 (before 2-12-16)

______ @ $40 (after 2-12-16)

 

Total Sent:       ______

 

I will bring an item to be auctioned for KWF’s education programs.   Yes ___           No ___

 

Please make checks payable to Kansas Wildlife Federation

MAIL TO: KWF Annual Meeting

Kansas Wildlife Federation

P.O. Box 771282

Wichita, KS 67277-1282 

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