Daily Archives: June 14, 2016

Great Outdoors Day celebration and Governor’s Campout coming up


A Great Outdoors Day celebration and the Governor’s Campout are set for Saturday, June 18 at El Dorado State Park, Walnut River Amphitheater Area. Governor Brownback is not scheduled to attend either event.


Great Outdoors Day is free and open to the public and will be celebrated from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See schedule below. There will be free activities and displays, including archery shooting, rescue boat demonstrations, the popular freshwater fish traveling aquarium, a demonstration by the Kansas Game Wardens K-9 unit and more.


The Governor’s Campout requires pre-registration and begins at 4:30 p.m. More activities are planned for the campers, including a live animal presentation, supper, a bison display, campfire lighting and camp stories and songs. Lights out is at 10:00 p.m. The campout concludes Sunday morning, June 19, after a hearty breakfast and closing ceremony with door prizes.


Interested families can pre-register for the campout by contacting Kati Westerhaus at 620-672-0740 or by email at See schedule below.


Sponsoring participants include Coleman Factory Outlet, Kansas Golf and Turf, Sutherlands, Bicycle X-change, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Boys and Girl Scouts, Shady Creek Sales, John K. Fisher, Cabela’s, Butler County Extension Office and 4-H, the National Wild Turkey Federations, Butler County Rescue and EMS and Kansas Wildscape.


Saturday June 18th


Great Outdoors Day:

10:00 – 5:00    Free Activities & Displays


Boat displays                                                   Camper displays

Sutherlands; outdoor gear                                Water Safety US Army Corps

Cabela’s                                                           Air Gun shooting

Petting Zoo Four Points Ranch                         Catch a Crawdad KDWPT

Butler CO Rescue Boat demonstrations                       Tree ID Ks Forest Service

Archery Shooting                                             Horse Rides

K9 demo KDWPT                                           Fishing Clinic

Butler Co DARE                                              Fly a kite

Kayak paddling                                                           KDWPT Traveling Aquarium

Kansas Wildlifer Challenge                             LifeTeam Helicopter (at 11:00 am)

Skins and Skulls Wildlife ID                            Touch a Boat KDWPT boat

Bat Education                                                  Catch a Bug




4:30-5:30         Camper Check-in, Yard Games, Build a First Aid Kit, Pictures with Smokey


5:30                 Campers’ Welcome Ceremony

6:00                 Supper, and National Park Bison display

7:15                 Live Animal Presentation

8:00                 Campfire lighting

8:30                 Cowboy Campfire Stories and Songs

9:30                 Star Gazing (weather permitting)

10:00               Lights Out


Sunday June 19th


7:00                 Wake up

7:30                 Breakfast

8:30                 Campsite Pack-up

9:00                 Closing Ceremony- certificates, door prizes, etc.

KAWS celebrates 20 years of wetland conservation in Kansas


Last month, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS) celebrated its 20th anniversary. Since its inception in 1996, KAWS has been collaborating with local communities, conservation organizations, wildlife agencies and local governments to promote conservation of the streams, riparian areas, playas and prairies of Kansas. They have brought together a broad range of partners—including Ducks Unlimited, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, Kansas Water Office, The Nature Conservancy, University of Kansas, and Playa Lakes Joint Venture—to work on water and wildlife issues in Kansas.


“It is so gratifying to help via a capacity grant and then watch as groups like KAWS flourish into go-to partners on the landscape,” says PLJV Coordinator Mike Carter. “We wish KAWS another 20 years of successful wetland conservation!”


In 2002, KAWS received a six-year capacity grant from PLJV to help increase their ongoing ability to develop and deliver habitat conservation. The PLJV Capacity Grant Program is designed to remove roadblocks to habitat conservation— and can help new organizations get on their feet and move beyond current capabilities—rather than directly support any particular habitat project. During the grant period, KAWS influenced the conservation or restoration of about 5,000 wetland acres. A second six-year grant, which started in 2008, provided funding for a wetland coordinator who focused on playa conservation. Over the lifespan of the second agreement, nearly 2,500 acres of wetlands and buffer were restored or protected, and the number of acres have continued to increase in the years since the grant ended.


KAWS continues to build its playa conservation program under the leadership of Joe Kramer, who took on the wetland coordinator position in January 2015. Beginning next year, the organization will host an annual Playa Symposium, featuring tours of playas and demonstrations of innovative projects that integrate playas and native buffers into profitable yet ecological systems.


“Our priority is to set the stage with knowledge, innovation, entrepreneurship and local leadership,” says KAWS Executive Director Jeff Neel. “By working with our partners and local landowners, we hope to achieve ecological connectivity of playas that benefit migratory birds, wildlife ecology and recharge potential for the Ogallala while supporting the bottom lines and economies of farms and ranches.”

Deciphering the mysterious decline of honey bees


Honey bees are still dying at troubling rates; a bee expert explains why.

By Elina El Niño

The Conversation


Honey bees are arguably our most important commercially available pollinator. They are responsible for pollinating numerous food plants that make our diets more exciting and nutritious, including many fruits, vegetables and nuts.


Beekeepers expect some of their bees to die off from season to season–typically, around 17 percent annually. But in recent years, losses have been more than twice as high.


As an extension apiculturist for the University of California Cooperative Extension, I talk to many people, from beekeepers and growers to members of the general public, about honey bees. Most of my audiences are concerned about how honey bee losses could affect the security of our food supply. While the massive and sudden colony collapses that occurred a decade ago have abated, honey bees are still dying at troubling rates. Laboratories like mine are working to understand the many factors stressing bees and develop strategies for protecting them.


Impacts of honey bee losses

In 2006 beekeepers in the United States reported that a mysterious affliction, dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), was causing widespread die-offs of bees. In colonies affected by CCD, adult workers completely disappeared, although plentiful brood (developing bees) and the queen remained. Beekeepers found no adult bees in and around the hives, and noted that pests and bees from neighboring hives did not immediately raid the affected hives, as might be expected.

Scientists now agree that CCD was likely caused by a combination of environmental and biological factors, but nothing specific has been confirmed or proven. CCD is no longer causing large-scale colony death in North America, but beekeepers all over the United States are still reporting troubling colony losses – as high as 45 percent annually.


While beekeepers can recoup their losses by making new colonies from existing ones, it is becoming increasingly costly to keep them going. They are using more inputs, such as supplemental food and parasite controls, which raises their operating costs. In turn, they have to charge growers higher prices for pollinating their crops.


Multiple stresses

Beekeepers’ biggest challenge today is probably Varroa destructor, an aptly named parasitic mite that we call the vampire of the bee world. Varroa feeds on hemolymph (the insect “blood”) of adult and developing honey bees. In the process it transmits pathogens and suppresses bees’ immune response. They are fairly large relative to bees: for perspective, imagine a parasite the size of a dinner plate feeding on you. And individual bees often are hosts to multiple mites.


Beekeepers often must use miticides to control Varroa. Miticides are designed specifically to control mites, but some widely used products have been shown to have negative effects on bees, such as physical abnormalities, atypical behavior and increased mortality rates. Other currently used commercial miticides have lost or are rapidly losing their efficacy because Varroa are developing resistance to them.


Our laboratory is evaluating several novel biopesticides for effectiveness against Varroa and safety to bees. These products are mostly plant-based, and are designed to be used as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) plan. IPM emphasizes prevention and monitoring of pests and using a range of control methods to minimize negative effects on the environment.


Another potential strategy is breeding Varroa-resistant bees. Our research explores biological processes that regulate the honey bee queen mating process. To breed pathogen- and parasite-resistant honey bee stock, we often need to use instrumental (artificial) insemination. We hope to help improve that process by understanding which seminal fluid proteins from male honey bees (drones) cause specific post-mating changes in queens, such as triggering egg-laying or contributing to queen bees’ longevity.


Honey bees also are exposed to viruses, bacterial diseases and fungi. For example, deformed wing virus (DWV) causes wing deformities that prevent bees from performing normal work functions such as foraging for food. Viruses have been implicated as an important factor in honey bee health declines, but we are just starting to understand how honey bees’ immune systems fight against them. We may be able to help strengthen bees’ immune responses by making diverse foraging resources, such as a variety of wildflowers, easily accessible.


Pesticide impacts

Questions about how pesticides affect honey bee health have spurred passionate debate. One key issue is whether neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that affect insects’ nervous systems, are causing widespread bee deaths. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing possible risks to pollinators from neonicotinoids. Its first results, released earlier this year, found that the pesticide imidacloprid can have negative effects when it is present at concentrations above thresholds that can sometimes be found in certain crops, including citrus and cotton.


There are many gaps in our knowledge about neonicotinoids and other types of pesticides. We have little understanding about the impacts of pesticide combinations and how they affect developing bees and other pollinators. To fill some of those gaps, our lab is testing combinations of various agriculturally important pesticides on adult worker survival and queen development.


Studies show that when bees have access to optimal nutrition, they are better able to deal with diseases and pesticides. But intensive farming and urbanization have reduced the amount of readily available forage that bees need to thrive. Research labs at UC-Davis and elsewhere are analyzing what types of flowering plants provide the best supplemental forage for bees. Growers can support bees by planting these species near their crops.


Be bee-friendly

Many people who are not beekeepers or growers want to know how they can help. One easy step is to grow forage plants, especially varieties that bloom at different times during the year. For suggestions, see our Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven Plant List.


Second, reduce your pesticide use for gardening and landscaping, and follow guidelines to reduce bee exposure. Finally, you can support local beekeepers by buying their honey. Ultimately, however, making our society more pollinator-friendly will likely require some drastic and long-term changes in our environmental and agricultural practices.

Two $1 million grants support wetland conservation in Colorado and Kansas


Earlier this year, Ducks Unlimited was awarded two $1 million grants for wetland habitat conservation and restoration in Colorado and Kansas from the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) standard grant program. Both grants will help Ducks Unlimited and its partners continue providing important wetland and grassland habitat for migratory birds.


“Water, especially, is a resource that migratory bird managers must carefully safeguard,” says Matt Reddy, a regional biologist for Ducks Unlimited. “The work we are doing along the South Platte gives us an opportunity to educate the public about the value of wetland conservation and share the joy many of us feel witnessing the spectacle of waterfowl migration.”


According to Reddy, the ability of the South Platte Basin to support abundant populations of waterfowl continues to be challenged by the increasing pressure on the river to supply municipal, industrial, agricultural and recreational resources. The Platte River Wetlands Partnership, now in its fourth phase, is currently working to improve habitats on publicly-accessible tracts along the river in Colorado, with the majority of the project focused on public properties or on areas that are adjacent to already conserved properties. The project is aimed at improving the quantity, quality and availability of preferred habitats for the ducks, geese and other waterbirds that rely upon the Platte River as a stopover point on their migration to and from breeding grounds to the north.


The Kansas Prairie Wetlands project includes a number of important wetland complexes that have been identified as areas of significance to North American waterfowl and other wetland birds. In particular, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms have been identified as areas of regional and hemispheric importance to shorebirds by the Western Shorebird Hemispheric Reserve Network (WSHRN). These habitats provide critical links between Prairie Pothole breeding areas, the Rainwater Basins in Nebraska, and wintering habitats along the Gulf Coast and in the High Plains playa region of Texas; and they support hundreds of thousands of shorebirds during migration within the Central Flyway.