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Daily Archives: February 12, 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.