Relive history at 15th annual Fall River Rendezvous

Step back in time to when mountain men and American Indians roamed the recently acquired Louisiana Purchase territory. A time when the success of Lewis and Clark’s “Corps of Discovery” had others clamoring to follow in their footsteps, anxious to explore the unknown. Relive this time and more at the 15th Annual Fall River Rendezvous at the Fredonia Bay area of Fall River State Park. The days’ reenactments will take place on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and visitors of all ages are invited to attend.

The one-day event aims to interpret the 1800s to 1840s with a traditional rendezvous when Native Americans and mountain men camped together to trade for supplies and furs. Activities will include exploring Native American and mountain men encampments, interacting with historical traders, a black powder shoot, tomahawk throw, skillet throw for ladies, and a kids’ gold rush.

For more information, contact park manager Kimberly Jones at (620) 637-2213. Find more information about Fall River State Park at

National Hunting and Fishing Day pledge

For 45 years, Congress has authorized the fourth Saturday in September to be designated National Hunting and Fishing Day – a way to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in fish and wildlife conservation.

To celebrate this remarkable record of conservation, to pass on the traditions and heritage I love, and to protect land and wildlife for future generations …

I hereby PLEDGE to take someone hunting, fishing or shooting between now and Saturday, September 23, 2017.

Go to: Take the pledge and enter for a chance to win amazing grand prizes from Richard Childress Racing, Big Cedar Lodge, and Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

How a good idea became a great tradition

Over 100 years ago, hunters and anglers were the earliest and most vocal supporters of conservation and scientific wildlife management. They were the first to recognize that rapid development and unregulated uses of wildlife were threatening the future of many species.

Led by fellow sportsman President Theodore Roosevelt, these early conservationists called for the first laws restricting the commercial slaughter of wildlife. They urged sustainable use of fish and game, created hunting and fishing licenses, and lobbied for taxes on sporting equipment to provide funds for state conservation agencies. These actions were the foundation of the North American wildlife conservation model, a science-based, user-pay system that would foster the most dramatic conservation successes of all time. Populations of white-tailed deer, elk, antelope, wild turkey, wood ducks and many other species began to recover from decades of unregulated exploitation.

During the next half-century, in addition to the funds they contributed for conservation and their diligent watch over the returning health of America’s outdoors, sportsmen worked countless hours to protect and improve millions of acres of vital habitat – lands and waters for the use and enjoyment of everyone.

In the 1960s, hunters and anglers embraced the era’s heightened environmental awareness but were discouraged that many people didn’t understand the crucial role that sportsmen had played-and continue to play-in the conservation movement.

The first to suggest an official day of thanks to sportsmen was Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe’s Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pa. In 1970, Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer adopted Joffe’s idea and created “Outdoor Sportsman’s Day” in the state.

With determined prompting from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the concept soon emerged on the floor of the U.S. Senate. In June 1971, Sen. Thomas McIntyre, N.H., introduced Joint Resolution 117 authorizing National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. Rep. Bob Sikes, Fla., introduced an identical measure in the House. In early 1972, Congress unanimously passed both bills.

On May 2, 1972, President Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day, writing, “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.”

By late summer, all 50 governors and over 600 mayors had joined in by proclaiming state and local versions of National Hunting and Fishing Day. The response was dramatic.

National, regional, state and local organizations staged some 3,000 “open house” hunting- and fishing-related events everywhere from shooting ranges to suburban frog ponds, providing an estimated four million Americans with a chance to experience, understand and appreciate traditional outdoor sports.

Over the years, National Hunting and Fishing Day boasted many more public relations successes, assisted by celebrities who volunteered to help spotlight the conservation accomplishments of sportsmen and women. Honorary chairs have included George Bush, Tom Seaver, Hank Williams Jr., Arnold Palmer, Terry Bradshaw, George Brett, Robert Urich, Ward Burton, Louise Mandrell, Travis Tritt, Tracy Byrd, Jeff Foxworthy and many other sports and entertainment figures.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, celebrated the fourth Saturday of every September, remains the most effective grassroots efforts ever undertaken to promote the outdoor sports and conservation.

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and National Wildlife Federation join forces for conservation

During the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Annual Banquet & Auction on September 13, CSF and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to enhance the organizations’ shared goals of advancing wildlife conservation across the country.

This partnership will combine CSF’s ties to conservation-minded federal and state legislators with NWF’s six million members and supporters to ensure healthy fish and wildlife habitats through science-based policies and management.

“The National Wildlife Federation has been committed to safeguarding and improving habitats for fish and wildlife for over 80 years,” said CSF President Jeff Crane. “CSF looks forward to strengthening our partnership and working closely with the Federation and its state affiliates to advance opportunities for conservation funding for fish and wildlife as well as ensuring public access to public and private lands.”

“The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s bold leadership in Congress, with Governors, and in state legislatures has proven that there is no issue with greater bipartisan support than conservation,” said Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation President. “The National Wildlife Federation and our affiliates are proud to join forces with CSF on the Hill and in states across the country to expand hunting and fishing opportunities, increase America’s wildlife populations, and promote proactive, collaborative conservation.”

About CSF

Since 1989, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has maintained a singleness of purpose that has guided the organization to become the most respected and trusted sportsmen’s organization in the political arena. CSF’s mission is to work with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping. The unique and collective force of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC), the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) and the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC), working closely with CSF, and with the support of major hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping organizations, serves as an unprecedented network of pro-sportsmen elected officials that advance the interests of America’s hunters and anglers.

About NWF

The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization, with over six million members and supporters and 51 state and territorial affiliates, working to unite all Americans to ensure wildlife thrive in a rapidly changing world. NWF and its affiliates are dedicated to increasing wildlife populations by protecting, restoring, and restoring land and water habitats, transforming wildlife conservation, and connecting all Americans with wildlife, especially children, through outdoor experiences, Ranger Rick magazines, and environmental education.

What happened to the tiny Key deer during Hurricane Irma?

By David Goodhue

Miami Herald

The federally protected Key deer were exposed to Hurricane Irma and authorities will assess their situation when it’s safe to return to the Keys.

Dan Clark superintendent of the National Key Deer Refuge, said his first priority as the massive storm approached was to evacuate National Wildlife Refuge personnel assigned to the area.

“After we receive information from Monroe County that it is safe to return and we can inhabit the Lower Keys, a post-storm assessment of our facilities and residences will be conducted to determine if we can operate,” Clark said.

The small deer, whose estimated numbers range from 800 to 1,000, live mostly on the Lower Keys islands of Big Pine Key and Little Torch Key.

It’s been a traumatic couple of years for the Keys treasures. First, after a nasty infection by the larvae of a parasitic fly called the screwworm began to infest the population in the fall of 2016. Not only did the screwworm take out a significant portion of the already-sensitive local deer population, it killed the animals slowly and painfully.

The infestation was finally eliminated after scientists released roughly 124 million sterile screwworm flies to mate with wild flies. The mating process results in eggs that never hatch. Five months after introducing the lab-made flies, the screwworm problem was over.

Then, earlier this summer, two young men – one from Miami-Dade County and the other from Broward – were arrested in Little Torch Key July 2 after a traffic stop by a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputy revealed three live deer stowed in their car. Two does were in the back seat of the Hyundai Sonata, and a buck was in vehicle’s trunk.

The buck was badly injured in the ordeal and wildlife officials euthanized him. The men face federal poaching charges.

Now comes Irma, which has raked much of the Keys with its high winds, hard rain and damaging storm surges. The key deer habitat is only about 15 miles east of where Irma’s eye made landfall in the Keys Sunday morning.

What’s become of the key deer is not known. But, Clark said, not much could have been done to protect the wild animals from Mother Nature.

“Since the federal-trust resources on the Keys refuge are wild, we do not have specific plans to collect any deer,” Clark said. “We do not have the capacity to do so and husbandry following the hurricane would be extremely difficult.”

Like all other agencies planning to come back down to the Keys post-Irma, Clark said he and his staff have no idea what types of conditions to which they are returning so they can’t adequately plan their response when it comes to the deer.

“We will assess the status of all refuge resources when it is safe to do so and we have the ability to do so,” Clark said.

NWF taps Montana Governor’s top aide to lead Public Lands program

Tracy Stone-Manning, the former chief of staff for Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and a longtime conservationist, is the new associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation.

Stone-Manning, who started work Monday, heads the national public lands team, whose staffers are based in the National Wildlife Federation’s Rocky Mountain Regional Center in Denver and in Washington, D.C.

The job was elevated to an associate vice president position to reflect the importance of protecting public lands to the organization’s mission and the broadening of the public lands work across the country, said Collin O’Mara, the National Wildlife Federation’s president and CEO.

“Tracy Stone-Manning is one the most effective conservation leaders in America and the National Wildlife Federation is fortunate to have her leading one of our most important conservation priorities – protecting and improving the management of America’s public lands,” O’Mara added. “Tracy’s extensive experience will be invaluable as the Federation and our state affiliates expand our public lands program nationwide and work with Congress and the administration to conserve and enhance our outdoor heritage.”

Before serving as Bullock’s chief of staff, Stone-Manning was his director of the Department of Environmental Quality. She was also a natural resources adviser and state director for Montana Sen. Jon Tester.  From 1999-2007, she was the director of the Clark Fork Coalition in Missoula, Mont., where she spearheaded the successful effort to remove a dam at the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers, as well as advocated successfully for a $120 million cleanup of the upper Clark Fork.

“I’m thrilled to be part of an organization that has such a deep commitment to our nation’s conservation heritage,” said Stone-Manning. “I look forward to growing support for our nation’s public lands, which are key to ensuring our ability to pass that legacy on to future generations.”

The National Wildlife Federation and its state and territorial affiliates have worked for years to prevent the sale and transfer of national public lands to the states or private owners, O’Mara said. The organization’s more than 6 million members and supporters are committed to seeing that our country’s public lands legacy, built over more than a century, remains intact and that we improve management to ensure that our fish and wildlife populations survive and thrive, he added.

“With her background and experience with Americans of all political stripes,” O’Mara said, “Tracy is the absolute right person to lead the National Wildlife Federation’s efforts to conserve public lands. Now more than ever, we must increase collaboration among Americans across the political spectrum to improve the management and ensure sufficient funding for the places where we hunt, fish, paddle, hike, and connect to the natural world.”

Stone-Manning has lived in Montana since 1988. She earned a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film from the University of Maryland and a master’s of science in environmental studies from the University of Montana. She started her career as an intern with the National Wildlife Federation in Washington D.C. in 1987. She is a hunter and hiker and is married to the writer Richard Manning.

Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at

Flint Hills Nature Trail opens with Rush the Rails celebration

Where locomotives once chugged across the eastern-Kansas prairie, hikers, joggers and bicyclists can trek the same route today along the 95-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail. On Saturday, October 7, the long-awaited pathway celebrates its grand opening with relay races, bike rides and trail-wide festivities during its Rush the Rails event.

From trailhead to trailhead – starting at Osawatomie in the east to Council Grove in the west – competitive runners and recreational bikers will pass through welcoming small towns and stunning scenery. Four- and eight-person relay teams set out at 7:30 a.m. from John Brown Park in Osawatomie and run the entire 96-mile route (a short detour adds an extra mile to the 95-mile trail). Bikers, on the other hand, can choose from three distances: the full 96 miles starting at Osawatomie (7a.m.), 54 miles from Pomona State Park (8:30 a.m.), or 25 from Admire (10:30 a.m.), with all running and cycling events ending in Council Grove (pre-registration required by September 23 for all events).

“There’s so much beauty to see along the trail – from the eastern woodlands and the Marais des Cygnes River and its rocky bluffs on the east to the stunning Flint Hills on the west,” says LeLan Dains, Rush the Rails organizer, about the prairie pathway.

Dains also serves as operations manager for Dirty Kanza Promotions, which is helping manage Rush the Rails and is renowned for its annual Dirty Kanza 200 endurance ride through the Flint Hills. “We’re so pleased that Dirty Kanza, producers of its famous gravel grind, is helping to launch our trail and grand-opening event,” says Linda Craghead, assistant secretary of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Rush the Rails passes by 10 towns, among the largest Osawatomie, Ottawa, Pomona, Osage City, Admire and Council Grove. Osawatomie kicks off Rush the Rails Friday night, October 6, with a bonfire, free hot-dog roast and live music by the Route 66 band at John Brown Park. On Saturday, a musket firing starts the bike ride beginning at 7 a.m. at the park. To the west, Ottawa gears up with a street dance, food trucks and beer garden Friday night and vendors and kids’ bike activities on Saturday morning, when the participants will pass through.

Farther west, Pomona State Park hosts food and craft vendors and offers free park entrance for the day at Saturday’s Fall Festival. Osage City joins in with food and crafts booths, inflatable games for kids and an ice-cream social at Santa Fe Park. Admire, where the 25-mile short-distance bike ride begins, plans to open its North Lyon County Historical Museum for the day and serve refreshments.

Finally, Council Grove wraps it up with its Rush the Rails Finish Line Celebration at the town’s landscaped Neosho Riverwalk, a paved walkway that connects with the Flint Hills Nature Trail along the Neosho River banks. Day-long Riverwalk entertainment includes food vendors, kids’ games and bike rodeo, an Antique and Unique Bike Show, live music, a beer garden and fireworks along the river.

Organizers point out that the events in trailside towns aren’t just for the racers and bikers. “We want everyone to come to the finish line or along the trail and cheer these people on,” says Council Grove organizer Ricci Ziegler.

Linda Craghead adds, “Even if you can’t make it to Rush the Rails that day, we encourage you to check out the family-friendly trail any time and discover the scenic sections and quaint towns all along the way.”

Flint Hills Nature Trail has been a 15-year undertaking by the volunteer organization Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Department of Transportation. Today, the crushed limestone corridor replaces a railway abandoned in the 1980s, but the charm of old rail bridges and other railroad remnants remain.

Scott Allen, vice president of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, bikes the 95-mile route and marvels at the diversity. “What makes this unique is the varied terrain you pass through,” he says.

The tree-canopied section at the east end follows along the scenic Marais des Cygnes River and its bridges, with pretty falls in the background. Pomona and beyond leads past remains of old railroad towns, Hobo Rock, and Melvern and Pomona lakes. Remnants of coal mines are visible from the trail in the Osage City area. Just 3 1/2 miles outside of Council Grove in the heart of the Flint Hills, the route skirts the 158-acre Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park, owned by the Kaw Nation, and its monument to the Unknown Kaw Warrior and ruins.

“The section through the Flint Hills is literally breathtaking,” Scott says. “You’re awed by what the Flint Hills truly has to offer. I like to say it’s the most isolated you can get in the Flint Hills without permission!”

Ricci Ziegler agrees: “Sunsets on the trail heading toward Council Grove are absolutely gorgeous. I love riding anywhere along the trail because of the amount of wildlife you see every time, sometimes foxes and coyotes, or maybe turkey and deer.”

The biking is easy, too, for all ages and ability, Ricci adds. “You don’t have to worry about vehicle traffic on the trail because it’s all non-motorized, and there’s never more than a 3-percent grade since it’s an old rail bed.”

Towns strategically dotted the old rail line about every 10 miles, giving today’s trail users regular stop-offs to visit local cafes and attractions.

The final phase, yet to be completed, will stretch the Flint Hills Nature Trail west from Council Grove to Herington, for a total length of 117 miles. While Flint Hills Nature Trail ranks as the longest in Kansas, other established rail trails pass through scenic sections of the state as well. “We’re looking forward to the grand opening of our newest trail, but urge people to experience all the great trails in Kansas,” says Linda Craghead.

Among other rail trails to explore:

–Prairie Spirit Trail, 52 miles long from Ottawa, where it intersects with the Flint Hills Nature Trail, to Iola.

–Southwind Rail Trail, located at the south end of the Prairie Spirit Trail at Iola, running 6 ½ miles to Humboldt.

–Landon Trail, includes five developed miles within the city of Topeka and eight miles in Shawnee County, eventually covering 38 miles and connecting with the Flint Hills Nature Trail near Pomona.

–Blue River Trail, starts at Marysville and run 13 miles north along the Big Blue River, connecting with Nebraska’s 68-mile Chief Standing Bear Trail at the Nebraska line.

–Prairie Sunset Trail, 15 miles through farm country from Garden Plain to Wichita.

2017 NWTF Kansas State JAKES camp

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) will hold the 2017 Kansas State JAKES Camp Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at White Memorial Camp, 6 miles north of Council Grove, off Highway K-177.  The camp is open to youth 17 and younger who want to learn more about hunting and outdoor skills.

On Saturday, participants can select up to six activities from a list that includes fishing, arts and crafts, JAKES Take Aim BB gun shooting, trap shooting, still target shooting, archery, canoeing, and turkey calling with NWTF Grand National and World Turkey Calling Champion, Billy Yargus.

On Saturday evening, JAKES members can participate in the annual NWTF Kansas State JAKES (ages 12 and under) and Xtreme JAKES (ages 13 to 17) turkey calling contests. Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in each division. The evening will close with Yargus entertaining everyone with stories of becoming a world-class turkey caller.

On Sunday, Pastor Gary Cargill will start the day with a sunrise service. After the service, participants will enjoy presentations by Master Falconer Doug Burt and a naturalist from the Milford Nature Center.

The cost of the event is $20 for JAKES members, $30 for non-JAKES members (which includes a JAKES membership), and $20 for adults. Options for Saturday night include commuting, tent camping (bring your own tent), RV camping (a few RV hook-ups are available) or for an additional fee, staying in a resident cabin (bunk beds and shared bath). Boys and girls will have separate cabins. The cost includes lunch and supper on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday. Meals will be prepared by the White Memorial Camp kitchen staff. All youth 17 and younger will receive a commemorative t-shirt and win a prize in a drawing at the end of the event on Sunday. One lucky youth will win a shotgun.

The NWTF Kansas State JAKES Camp was awarded the “Best State JAKES Event” in 2012, the “Best Special JAKES Event” in 2013 at the NWTF National Convention in Nashville, Tenn. and “Honorable Mention” in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

For more information and to register, contact Gib Rhodes at (620) 437-2012.

Prescribed fire workshop in Troy

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will conduct a prescribed fire workshop in Troy on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The workshop – which will promote fire as a useful tool to manage grasslands and woodlands, as well as to benefit wildlife – will begin at 12 p.m. at the Troy City Park, at the intersection of Park St. and Myrtle St.

Attendees will learn how to use prescribed burns to achieve management objectives they have for their property. Topics will include benefits from fire, planning burns, necessary equipment, fire behavior, and safety. A hands-on prescribed fire demonstration will follow the workshop. Anyone wishing to assist with the burn should wear leather boots and bring leather gloves. All other materials, and lunch, will be provided. Pre-registration is required by September 11.

To register for the workshop, contact Tyler Warner, KDWPT district wildlife biologist, at (785) 945-6615, or [email protected].

For more information on how to enhance natural resources on your property, visit

Soar over to KWEC’s Butterfly Festival

All things “butterfly” will be the focus of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center’s (KWEC) Butterfly Festival from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 16.

From magic shows to tagging monarch butterflies, kids and adults will find plenty to do during this free event. New this year, “Butterfly Magic” – a puppet magic show performed by the Fishin’ Magicians, Steve Craig and Amy Short – will explore the mystery of the butterfly life cycle through magic, puppets and humor.

“We’re excited to have Steve Craig and Amy Short present their unique brand of humor and magic during the festival this year,” said Curtis Wolf, KWEC site manager.

The Fishin’ Magicians will perform three 30-minute shows at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., sponsored by the Grace Van Skike Memorial and Landmark National Bank.

After filling up on laughs, visitors can grab a net and tags to help capture and tag butterflies. Participants will receive information about the tagging process before heading out with a tagging leader to search for monarch butterflies. Over the past two years, 13 tagged monarchs released from KWEC have been recovered from winter roosts in Mexico.

Weather permitting, an exhibit beehive will be on display in the insect zoo, in addition to giant walking stick insects, hissing and peppered cockroaches, butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalises.

Kids can play in the mud, make a seed bomb filled with soil and native flower seeds, channel their inner insect by taking a photo at the monarch butterfly and caterpillar photo boards and dress-up area, and create caterpillar and butterfly crafts in the classroom.

Plan to spend the morning, as door prizes will be presented around noon, along with free milkweed plants (one per family). Information on butterfly-friendly plants will be also available, along with examples of butterfly-friendly plants in the KWEC pollinator garden.

Light refreshments and drinks will be provided.

For more information on this event, contact the KWEC at 1-877-243-9268 or visit