Nebraska Expands Platte River Fish Salvage Area

The portion of the Platte River open to fish salvage has been extended upstream. It now includes the river from U.S. Highway 183 near Elm Creek downstream to its confluence with the Loup River below the U.S. Highway 81 bridge south of Columbus.

That portion of the river is experiencing a fish die-off due to low water flows and high water temperatures. Several species of fish have been found dead and dying.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission will allow the harvest of stranded fish of all species in the designated area by any method, except electricity, explosives, poisons, chemicals, other fish toxicants, firearms, and seines or nets other than legal baitfish seines, dip, or landing nets through July 31.

Other legal methods of fishing include snagging, hand fishing, spearing and archery. All daily bag limits will be maintained, but length limits will be rescinded for this area during this period. Salvaged fish cannot be sold or used for stocking purposes into either public or private water bodies.

Anglers are having good success with rod and reel for channel catfish above and below the designated area of the Platte. Since most of the river is on private land, anglers must obtain permission to enter on foot or all-terrain vehicle.

National Wildlife Photo Contest Deadline July 16th

The 42nd annual National Wildlife Photo Contest will have more than $10,000 in prizes; and, the winners will be featured in National Wildlife Magazine. Click on the link below TO ENTER:


Instructors needed for growing school program

A training workshop for the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) program will be conducted at the Russell Recreation Commission in Russell on Saturday, July 7, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. The workshop will be conducted by Joyce Ellis of Fort Hays State University and Gary Keehn, the Kansas NASP state coordinator. The program is free, and participants will receive basic NASP archery instructor certification.

The workshop is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism;Fort Hays State University; and the Russell Recreation Commission. For more information concerning NASP, to pre-register for the workshop, or for information on how to obtain funding to establish this program in your area, phone Joyce Ellis at 785-628-4594 or email[email protected], or phone Gary Keehn at 785-834-2075 or email[email protected].

Duck Numbers Remain Strong as Habitat Declines

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released its preliminary report today on breeding ducks and habitats, based on surveys conducted in May and early June.

Total populations were estimated at 48.6 million breeding ducks in the surveyed area. This estimate represents a 7 percent increase over last year’s estimate of 45.6 million birds, and is 43 percent above the 1955-2010 long-term average. This year’s estimate is a record high and is only the sixth time in the survey’s history that the total duck population exceeded 40 million.

“As good as the population news is this week, waterfowl and wetland habitats continue to face significant long-term threats. The Farm Bill and North American Wetlands Conservation Act are up for renewal by Congress this year and both are crucial to our ability to conserve this critical habitat. We are also fighting to increase our investment in wetlands conservation by raising the price of the federal duck stamp,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “Conservation is indeed at a crossroads this year.”

Click here to watch a video summary and read report details.

Two Big Wins for Wildlife!

Thanks to the persistent voices of hundreds of thousands of wildlife advocates like you, moments ago on June 29th Congress passed a Transportation Package that includes the potential for the largest investment in wildlife conservation inU.S. history and two very important wins for wildlife against Big Oil:

*More than two years into the worst oil disaster in U.S. history, today Congress passed the RESTORE Act, which ensures that money from BP’s oil spill fines will be dedicated to Gulf Coast restoration–a big win for brown pelicans, dolphins, and sea turtles that are still being impacted by the oil spill disaster that began in April 2010.

*It was a hard fight, but the legislation passed today does NOT include language that would have forced approval of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, which would put endangered whooping cranes and swift foxes at risk of toxic oil spills while also driving a rapid expansion of habitat-destroying tar sands operations that could put the lives of thousands of Canada’s wolves and caribou at risk.

You’ve helped achieve a tremendous victory for wildlife today through the many ways you’ve worked to hold your elected officials accountable to protecting America‘s wildlife.

NSSF Reminds You to Help Prevent Wildfires

During dry and hot weather conditions, as the West is currently experiencing, wildfires are easily started and can quickly grow into blazes that damage land and property and threaten wildlife and human life. The National Shooting Sports Foundation reminds all who use the outdoors for recreation to consider the potential consequences of their activities in fire-prone environments and offers these reminders:

• Make it a point to know the regulations and rules related to shooting in areas experiencing dry and hot conditions, whether on public or private land or at shooting ranges. Many national forests, for example, do not allow recreational shooting when fire restrictions are in effect.

• Consider the type of ammunition and targets you are using. Minimize the risk of fires by not using steel-jacketed ammunition, ammunition with steel-core components, tracer rounds or exploding targets in fire-prone areas.

• Remember that equipment, such as cars and ATVs, can have extremely hot exhaust systems that could ignite dry vegetation, so park only in designated areas.

• Extinguish and dispose of smoking materials safely.

• Follow guidelines to extinguish campfires.

• Warn others of potential dangers and behaviors for starting wildfires.

• Report any wildfire you see.

• Spread this message using traditional and digital media.

House Appropriations Bill Will Help Hunters Access Public Lands

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has approved the fiscal year 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill that includes $7.5 million to expand and enhance access for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands. Securing this funding has been a priority for the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) along with partner organizations such as the Boone and Crockett Club, NRA, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and others.

If included in the final appropriations measure, the funding will allow the Forest Service and BLM to acquire rights-of-way and other land interests from willing-seller landowners to open access to existing federal lands for hunting and fishing where it is closed or significantly restricted.

“The biggest challenge facing hunters and shooters is diminishing access to public lands. This important appropriations provision addresses this challenge head-on, and the NSSF is deeply grateful to Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers and Interior Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson for championing this cause,” said Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of NSSF, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry.

Boone and Crockett Club Chairman Bob Model praised Chairman Simpson for “his longstanding and deep commitment to enhancing hunting opportunities on our public lands.”

For the 32 million American hunters, anglers and recreational shooters, federal public lands are increasingly vital to their participation in outdoor sports. Nearly half of all hunters, for example, pursue their passion on public lands. Reduced access is repeatedly cited as the primary reason that hunters, anglers and recreational shooters stop participating in these sports.

A 2004 report to the House Committee on Appropriations concluded that more than 35 million acres of BLM and Forest Service land have inadequate access. Specifically, nearly 2 million acres (or 10 percent) of Forest Service lands in Montana and 8.4 million acres (or 29 percent) of BLM lands in the Montana/Dakotas region were identified as having inadequate access.

Sportsmen and women make important contributions to both wildlife conservation and the nation’s economy. The hunting and shooting sports industry creates 210,000 jobs nationwide, generating an economic benefit of nearly $32 billion annually.

“If ultimately appropriated, this public-access funding will serve as another weapon in our arsenal as we continue to work on behalf of our nation’s hunting and shooting heritage,” said Keane.

Duck Stamps Offer Easy Way to Help Protect Wetland Habitat

The 2012-2013 Federal Duck Stamp are now on sale across the United States, giving hunters, stamp collectors and anyone who cares about migratory birds and other wildlife an easy way to help conserve their habitat. Ninety-eight percent of proceeds from sales of the stamp are used to acquire and protect vital wetlands supports hundreds of species of migratory birds, wildlife and plants.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe joined representatives of the U.S. Postal Service, Bass Pro Shops and other conservation partners at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World retail store in HamptonVA, July 1st to celebrate the first day of sale of both the $15 Federal Duck Stamp and $5 Junior Duck Stamp. The new stamps are now available at thousands of post offices, Bass Pro Shops and other sporting goods stores and retail locations across the country, and can also be purchased online.

“For nearly 80 years, the Federal Duck Stamp has provided crucial funding for wetland habitat conservation efforts in every state,” said Ashe. “Buying a Duck Stamp offers hunters, conservationists, and collectors the opportunity to own a beautiful piece of wildlife art that helps sustain North America‘s wildlife heritage. I can’t think of a better or easier way for everyone to make a difference for wildlife conservation.”

Since the program’s inception in 1934, Federal Duck Stamp sales have raised more than $750 million to acquire and protect more than 5.3 million acres of habitat for hundreds of units of the National Wildlife Refuge System in all 50 states and U.S. territories. These refuges benefit the public by providing access to outdoor recreational activities including hunting, fishing, birding, photography, environmental education, and interpretation.

All migratory bird hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry a valid Federal Duck Stamp while hunting, but conservationists, birders, and others also buy the stamp to support habitat conservation. Anyone who holds a current Federal Duck Stamp may also obtain free admission to any unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System that charges admission fees. Stamp collectors, in particular, prize Federal Duck Stamps as miniature works of art. This year’s Federal Duck Stamp features a single wood duck painted by Joseph Hautman of PlymouthMinn. The Junior Duck Stamp features a northern pintail painted by Christine Clayton, a 17 year old from SidneyOhio.

With four Federal Duck Stamps to his credit, Hautman is one of the most successful Duck Stamp artists in history, and has leveraged the international recognition earned by winning the contest multiple times to build his career as a wildlife artist. Clayton’s art was chosen from among 53 Best-of-Show winners from every state, WashingtonD.C.Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands at the 2012 National Junior Duck Stamp Contest. Clayton entered her first Junior Duck Stamp competition in 2003 and has consistently placed well among her peers over the past 11 years.

Junior Duck Stamp competitors take part in the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program, which teaches wetlands and waterfowl conservation to students in kindergarten through high school. The program integrates scientific and wildlife management principles into a nationally recognized visual arts curriculum, with participants completing a Junior Duck Stamp design as their visual “term papers.” Revenue from the sales of the Junior Duck Stamp goes to support awards and environmental education for students who participate in the program.

Federal and Junior Duck Stamps can be purchased at U.S. Postal Service locations nationwide, as well as through the Postal Service’s online catalogue. Stamps may also be purchased at Bass Pro Shops locations and hundreds of other sporting goods stores and retailers. Electronic Duck Stamps may be purchased online at The electronic validation may be used to hunt or obtain free admission to a refuge immediately, while a physical stamp is mailed to each customer.

Learn more about the Federal Duck Stamp Program online at, or on Facebook at USFWS_Federal Duck Stamp. Learn more about the Junior Duck Stamp at, or on Facebook at Federal Junior Duck Stamp.

Crucial Bird Conservation Programs Slashed By House

In a move attacked by bird conservation groups as “one of the most regressive wildlife appropriations” ever, crucial conservation programs were slashed by 50% of FY 2012 funding levels in a funding bill approved by the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee for Fiscal Year 2013. The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) – a major source of funding for conservation programs that benefit migratory birds -was also cut in half.

Also sliced in half were funding for State Wildlife Grants, the nation’s core program for preventing birds and wildlife from becoming endangered in addition to supporting strategic conservation investments in every state and territory, and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which provides funding for conservation projects that benefit wetland birds.

“I think this is a serious setback on the threat-to-wildlife scale,” said Darin Schroeder, Vice President for Conservation Advocacy for American Bird Conservancy. “Of course we are in tough economic times, but the answer certainly isn’t to slash and burn conservation programs! Wildlife related activities such as birdwatching pump billions of dollars into the economy every year. If wildlife conservation programs are gutted and wildlife populations shrink, local economies will suffer. There’s no doubt that funding for these wildlife bills are both effective and essential.”

For example, NMBCA is the only federal U.S. grants program specifically dedicated to the conservation of migrant birds throughout the Americas. NMBCA has a proven track record of success, having supported 367 projects in 48 U.S. states and territories and 35 other countries since its inception in 2002. NMBCA grants totaling more than $39 million have leveraged $152 million in matching funds, a partner to grant dollar match of nearly 4:1. To date, more than 3 million acres of migratory bird habitat have been positively affected. Advances in conservation for many declining species, such as the Baltimore Oriole, Scarlet Tanager and Cerulean Warbler, owe much to the NMBCA.

The NMBCA grant program has also been a catalyst for bird conservation and partnership development throughout the Western Hemisphere, actively promoting the long-term conservation of migratory birds and their habitats.

NMBCA projects focus on priority areas and threats to migratory birds, funding activities that will protect habitat and energize local conservation initiatives. For example, the conversion of grassland habitat to agriculture is a major reason the number of grassland birds such as the Long-billed Curlew, is rapidly declining. Consequently, the conservation of this important ecosystem throughout the hemisphere is a high priority for the NMBCA grant program, which has supported two large-scale conservation efforts aimed at conserving grassland habitats.

The bill will now move to the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Digitizing the Outdoors: Can Gaming be the Gateway to Nature?

By Danielle Moodie-Mills

National Wildlife Federation


More and more kids are using mobile devices. By ‘digitizing the outdoors,’ it may be possible to harness that trend and connect more people to nature.

Children today are spending alarming amounts of their time indoors and in front of screens—7.5 hours per day on electronic devices.

Research suggests that ADHD and other behavioral issues are lessened when children spend time in the outdoors. Most notably, Richard Louv, author of The Last Child in the Woodsand architect of the term Nature Deficit Disorder has argued that “an environment-based education movement–at all levels of education–will help students realize that school isn’t supposed to be a polite form of incarceration, but a portal to the wider world.”

One complaint from children, however, is the outdoors are “boring,” which is a far cry from it being a “portal to the wider world.” As a kid I used the outdoors as a way to get away from the trappings of schoolwork and housework. Unlike kids today, I used the outdoors as my outlet–instead of using an electric outlet as my escape.

It’s possible however, that I am aging and just can’t understand what the “kids are into these days.” But if the rise in childhood obesity, ADHD, and other health issues are any indicators of the 21st century childhood realities—I’ll hold tight to my fort-building, Red Rover, hide-and-go-seek 20th century kid fun!

Is it possible though that kids today don’t have to choose between the delight of a swinging screen door to the outdoors and the allure of the digital screen? Can we find a way to meld these two dichotomous worlds? Recently, the Obama Administration followed the lead of the Bipartisan Policy Center and held an event on how we can combine 20th century outdoor ideals with the new 21st century electronic leisure time.

Earlier this month the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy held a briefing entitled Outdoor Mobile Games and Public Lands. The room was filled with an usual set: gaming experts and environmentalists. Generally, these two groups have been at odds (or at least haven’t worked closely together very often), with many environmentalists blaming the gaming industry for the uptick in the sedentary indoor child trend. But if we are to really understand the 21st century childhood–game designers are the experts to court.

Both groups discussed the need for collaboration. “Games could help turn a regular park into a storybook” said one game aficionado. It can’t be negated that the popularity of the Olympic National Forest went through the roof once the movie Twilight was released–that’s the power of media, and arguably the power of games. Several agencies across the US government currently fund game development and research programs, but there has been little coordinated effort to target games that get kids to public lands. Seventy-one percent of tweens (kids ages 12-14) play games on a mobile device and that number is only growing.

Digitizing the outdoors is a new trend that’s gaining traction even at the nation’s largest conservation organization. The National Wildlife Federation has entered into the electronic market with several offerings for virtual exploration into nature using the iPad as well as their geo-caching “nature treasure hunt,” a Nature Find website and digitizing their famous Ranger Rick magazine among other electronic advancements.

If we could entice these tech savvy kids with the natural world through games, not only could we begin to reverse the sedentary indoor childhood trend, but build conservation stewards of tomorrow—one click at a time.

Do you think digitizing the outdoors is a good thing? Tell us what you think. Let us know at [email protected].


Danielle Moodie-Mills joined the NWF team in 2010 as Senior Manager for Environmental Education Campaigns. From the classroom to Capitol Hill, Danielle has taught her students and advocated for the use of the environment in education as an integrating tool. “We don’t live in silos, so why should children learn that way?”