Featured Issues

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a report entitled, "PARKED! How Congress' Misplaced Priorities are Trashing Our National Treasures." The report documents how members of Congress have used the Park Service to advance parochial interests while ignoring billions in maintenance backlog at our nation's most prized national parks, and outlines areas of low-priority and wasteful spending by the Park Service.

"Instead of proposing new national parks on the moon, Congress should be focused on restoring our decaying national treasures right here on earth. Long before the government shutdown and sequestration, our parks had become a physical manifestation of Congress' dysfunction," Dr. Coburn said.

"For years, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have put their parochial desires ahead of the nation's best interest. Funding for low-priority and obscure parks earmarked by lawmakers has come at the cost of caring for our national treasures like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the National Mall and  Independence  Park in Philadelphia. Last year alone, the National Park Service put off more than a quarter billion dollars in much needed maintenance projects, adding to the $11.5 billion maintenance backlog already threatening the health, safety, and accessibility of park visitors. I hope this report inspires my colleagues to set common sense priorities and make sure our parks reflect our nation's greatness rather than  Washington's incompetence."

Key findings include:

* Despite a total allocation of $2.6 billion to the National Park Service, Congress again underfunded the maintenance portion of the budget - this year by $256 million, meaning more will be added to the already enormous $11.5 billion deferred maintenance backlog

* The top ten most visited park units in 2012 had a deferred maintenance backlog of $2.6 billion

* Yosemite and  Yellowstone  National Parks combine to $1 billion in deferred repairs alone, while Washington DC's National Mall and Memorial Parks' backlog stood at $530 million as of 2012

* Of the top 25 most visited National Parks in 2012, only 8 have been approved since 1970 - of the 25 least visited parks, 20 have been established since 1970

* Despite a constantly growing maintenance backlog, Congress continues to spend money on non-essential items and a massive overhead

* The water supply on the south rim of  Grand Canyon  National Park is dependent on a transcanyon pipeline that was installed nearly 50 years ago. It has deteriorated to a point where ruptures "have become more frequent," and in order to save water during pipeline breaks, "water from the creek is used for flushing toilets and disposable plates are used at the cantina for meals."

* The backlog of the trails at Grand Canyon NP alone total over $24 million, and "unless management actions are taken in the near future, trails will continue to fall into disrepair and deferred maintenance costs will continue to increase."

* At  Independence  National  Historic  Park in  Philadelphia, "the majority of the park's walkways were constructed or renovated between 1950 and 1976" and contain many tripping hazards. Over the last 5 years, tripping hazards in the park have resulted in 15 tort claims filed leading to claims ranging from $200,000 to $2 million per year.

* The 60 to 80 year old water system in a portion of  Yellowstone  National Park loses about 50 to 70 percent of the system's water through leaks, with reports of leaks as large as "15,000 gallons per day, per joint of pipe." The existing lines fail to "provide adequate fire protection to the facilities of the historic district," while "end lines and cross connections can create contamination or restrict disinfection in the drinking water system."

* Potholes in Mammoth Cave National Park, the world's longest known cave system, have caused safety concerns for visitors and the elevator used to provide access to mobility impaired visitors has been closed for over a decade after the elevator's cables broke and a park ranger got stuck inside.

* An outdated utility system in California's  Lassen  Volcanic  National Park requires constant repair including 2,500 hours in emergency labor in a single year.

* Areas of Gateway National Recreation Area remain closed eight years after radioactive soil was discovered

* At $1.36 billion in Fiscal Year 2012, the amount budgeted for operations at the 401 park units constitutes barely half of the $2.6 billion in appropriations provided to NPS by Congress

* Limited resources are instead spent on items such as wine trains, Elvis boats, neon sign restoration, teachers' symposiums, car shows, DC area-concert subsidies, folk festivals, inflatable fair rides and video game production

* Congress continues to spend between $255 and $529 million annually for more land despite the inability to care for the federal property we already own

For example, the federal government plans to spend $107 million to add 1366 acres to the 310,000 acre Grand Teton National Park, expanding the Wyoming park unit by one percent - the same amount of funding could have reduced the park's $221.7 million deferred maintenance backlog by nearly 50 percent

* NPS has a massive bureaucracy, consisting of $623 million for administrative or specialty support offices and administrative costs, equating to $1.5 million in overhead for each of the 401 park units ($1.55 million average in support costs per unit is more than the amount provided annually for more than 150 individual park units)

* Since the 1970s, Congress has abused NPS to add parochial projects at the cost of tending to the true national treasures

* Of the top 25 most visited National Parks in 2012, only 8 have been approved since 1970 - of the 25 least visited parks, 20 have been established since 1970

* Originally composed of 35 park units, the NPS's responsibilities has since expanded to 401 park units covering over 84 million acres of land in all 50 states, Washington DC, four U.S. territories, and  Canada

* Congress and the administration have added many park units on a parochial or political basis that have little national significance

* In 1978, a single legislator seeking a leadership position in the House forced through a pork-laden park service bill that continues to cost $37 million annually today

* There are 14 park units that cost more than $100 per visitor to operate - 12 of those were established since 1970

* These parochial parks dilute the resources available to tend to the true national treasures, which are suffering from Congressional neglect

* The behavior continues today - despite a $256 million shortfall in maintenance funding and an $11.5 billion backlog, more than 35 bills have been introduced this year to study, create or expand national parks, monuments and heritage areas, including a bill to establish a national historic park on the moon

By Desiree Sorenson-Groves

National Wildlife Refuge Association

New Report Confirms What the Government Shutdown and Data Shows:

Conservation is Smart Use of Taxpayer Dollars

The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) commends a new report released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) which shows that national wildlife refuges are a good investment for American taxpayers and boost to local economies. The Banking On Nature study shows that for every $1 Congress provides in funding to run the National Wildlife Refuge System on average $4.87 is returned to local communities. 

“Conservation conserves more than wildlife, it is conserving our tax dollars; an important value for Americans of all political stripes” said David Houghton, President of the NWRA. “There is nothing more conservative than conservation or more progressive than preserving our natural world for future generations.”

The report, the fifth of its kind released by FWS with the last report released in 2007, shows a remarkable trend of increased visitation to refuges and increased economic contribution to local communities – all during the height of the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression.  From 2006 to 2011, refuge visitation increased by 30 percent increase and overall economic output from refuges increased by 20 percent, resulting in an annual $2.4 billion returned to local economies.

“National wildlife refuges are essential to the American economy; they create jobs, support communities and generate tax revenue,” said Houghton.  “This was noticeable during the government shutdown, as local businesses that depend on their refuge, suffered huge losses. Refuges are economic engines, providing substantial bang for our buck, something that as we emerge from the Great Recession, is more important than ever.”

FWS anticipates the upward trend in Refuge visits and local economic stimulus will continue. However, NWRA and over 230 volunteer, local refuge “Friends” groups are concerned that with recent dramatic budget cuts and more on the horizon, this trend is at risk as refuges are closed to visitors because of lack of staff and resources.

“The Refuge System is facing the loss of more than 450 staff positions by the end of next year should Congress continue slashing their budget,” said Houghton.  “Refuges will be forced to eliminate popular hunting and wildlife watching programs, end volunteer efforts due to lack of staff to provide oversight and many will close their doors entirely. These short sighted budget cuts will ultimately hurt not only wildlife, but local economies that depend on these unique federal lands.”

            Highlights from Banking On Nature Report

The National Wildlife Refuge System:

● Generates $2.4 billion in sales and economic output, a 20% increase (from 2006);

● Welcomes 46.5 million visitors annually, a 30% increase (from 2006);

● Returns on average $4.87 to a local economy for every $1.00 Congress provides in funding, a 22% increase (from 2006);

● Creates 35,000 jobs annually, a 23% increase (from 2006);

● Produces $792.7 million in job income for local communities;

● Generates $342.9 million in local, county, state and federal tax revenue;

● Brings tourists from around the nation and world - 77 percent of refuge spending was done by visitors from outside the local area;

● Provides a combined economic benefit to communities nationwide that is almost five times the amount appropriated to run the System.

Group will discuss trail project grant applications
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Trails Advisory Board will hold a public meeting Wednesday, December 4, 2013, at the  Great Plains  Nature  Center,

6232 E. 29th Street N, Wichita, Kansas

, for the purpose of hearing and discussing grant applications previously submitted for funding under the Recreational Trails Fund Act. The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. in the Auditorium. Signs on the premises will provide directions to the meeting room.

            Persons interested in commenting on applications should attend this meeting. Grant applicants are encouraged to attend and discuss their proposals. Time for comments will be limited. Final decisions about proposals will not be made at this meeting. The Board will evaluate and make recommendations after reviewing all applications.
            For more information, contact Kathy Pritchett, Trail Grant Coordinator, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism,

512 SE 25th Avenue, Pratt, Kansas  67124

, at 620-672-5911.

By Roxana Hegeman

Associated Press

A federal judge has sent two Texas brothers to prison for what prosecutors say may have been the largest deer poaching operation in  Kansas history.

James Bobby Butler Jr., the owner and operator of Camp Lone Star near Coldwater was sentenced Monday to 10 months and has already paid a $25,000 fine. His brother, Marlin Jackson Butler, who worked as a guide, received an eight-month prison sentence with no fine. They must also serve three years of supervised release after they get out of prison.

"While certainly not the most serious violations I have seen, they are serious," U.S. District Judge Monti Belot told the men. "This was a business proposition, and it was a profitable operation."

Belot also prohibited James Butler, who owns a hunting operation in  Texas, from guiding hunters for one year of his probationary period. As convicted felons, neither man can possess a firearm.

Prosecutors said the Butlers sold guided deer hunts in Kansas for hunters from Texas and  Louisiana, charging them about $3,500 for archery hunts and $5,000 for rifle hunts. Their clients were encouraged to kill deer illegally, sometimes without a license or in excess of the bag limit. Some deer were spotlighted at night, others shot with a gun during archery season.

"You knew this was a crime, you knew this was wrong," Belot said.

The brothers, from  MartinsvilleTexas, admitted in 2011 to violating the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits the interstate transport of any wildlife taken in violation of state regulations. The brothers, both from Martinsville, Texas, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and one felony count of violation of the Lacey Act.

James Butler also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for ordering an employee at the High Roller Whitetails, a deer operation in Center, Texas, to get rid of several white-tailed deer mounts after wildlife officers began conducting interviews in Texas regarding the federal investigation. The employee refused to destroy the mounts.

James Butler told the court that since the investigation started, he has had plenty of time to think about all the hurt he has caused his family and friends: "I cannot begin to describe the regret that I have felt," he said.

Marlin  Butler declined to make a courtroom statement.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in its decision last year, said the district court made a mistake in 2011 in calculating sentences based on the full price of a guided hunt, rather than the actual retail value of the animals.

But Belot said he was not satisfied with the reliability of the evidence prosecutors presented about the value of the deer at Monday's re-sentencing hearing. The judge therefore determined the value of the illegally taken deer at zero, which then factored into a lower federal guideline sentence.

The prison sentences handed down are far below the initial sentences the men were given in 2011 by the late U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown that the appeals court threw out when it sent the case back for re-sentencing. Brown had initially given James Butler a 41-month sentence and Marlin Butler a 27-month sentence.

BY AJ DOME

KVOE AM 1400

Elk burgers attracted landowners and state officials to the  Fairgrounds  Anderson  Building on Tuesday, Oct. 29, for the Kansas Quail Initiative workshop. 

About 110 people from Lyon and surrounding counties attended, listening to state representatives and scientists discuss their plans for quail conservation and habitat management.

Presentations were given by various local officials from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and other local conservation agencies, about the different aspects of protecting the quail population. State wildlife biologist Bob Culbertson says there are good incentives for people to join.

The cost-sharing initiative would reimburse landowners 100% of the estimated costs of turning some of their land into quail-friendly property. Landowner and rural  Lyon  County resident Richard Porter just got started with the process of clearing some of his acreage for wildlife habitat and says the process is going well so far.

Private landowners are the biggest partner with the KDWPT on this project and the state is committed to spending up to $100,000 a year on private land improvements. Porter says it's well worth the effort, especially if done smartly.

The Quail Initiative project was designed to improve habitats and foster changes in the quail population in eastern  Kansas. That population, along with other grassland birds, has been declining steadily over the past 40 years.

The primary goals of the initiative are to increase the bobwhite quail population by 50%, and to see a 5% net increase in suitable quail habitat within each of the two focus areas in eastern  Kansas.

More information about the Kansas Quail Initiative, and the focus areas, is available through the KDWPT. You can contact their  Wichita office at 316-683-4464 or go to their website athttp://www.kdwpt.state.ks.us/news/Services/Private-Landowner-Assistance/Wildlife/Technical-Assistance/State-Programs/KDWP-Conservation-Programs/Kansas-Quail-Initiative.

Whooping cranes are  North America’s tallest bird, some reaching 5-feet when standing erect

The first migrating whooping crane was spotted on Oct. 24 at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, near Stafford in central  Kansas. A rare and fantastic sight, this whooping crane is part of the only sustaining wild population estimated at 250 birds. Whooping cranes from this population will fly through the state in upcoming weeks, making their way to wintering grounds at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the  Texas  Gulf  Coast.

Past records indicate that most whooping cranes will pass through  Kansas between Oct. 17 and Nov. 10, usually travelling in small family groups. However, on November 9 2012, 18 whoopers were spotted together at Quivira as they migrated south from their Canadian nesting grounds at  Wood Buffalo  National Park in the  Northwest Territories.

As part of a cooperative monitoring program supervised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) encourages anyone who has spotted a whooper to contact their local natural resource officer or KDWPT office. Sighting information can be used to alert managers of key areas along the flyway — such as Quivira and Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in central Kansas — and to provide sighting records for the Whooping Crane Recovery Plan and for whooping crane research in the U.S. and Canada.

For more information, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website atwww.fws.gov/midwest/whoopingcrane.

Buffalo from Maxwell Wildlife Refuge herd are available for purchase

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will auction off surplus buffalo at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 beginning at 11 a.m. Those interested in bidding are encouraged to arrive early to receive a bidder number. The auction is open to the public and lunch and concessions will be served.

Each fall, surplus buffalo are sold as available habitat can support only a finite number of animals. This year, a total of 60 buffalo will be auctioned, including seven cows, 13 yearling heifers, eight heifer calves, 13 yearling bulls, eight two-year-old bulls, eight bull calves, and three three-year-old bulls. Bison over 1-year-old will be brucellosis and tuberculosis tested and accompanied by a health certificate. Heifer calves will be vaccinated for brucellosis and certificates issued. Prices paid per animal range from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on market demand, condition, sex and age of the animal.

Cash and personal checks (if accompanied by a notarized authorization letter from the issuing bank) will be accepted. KDWPT reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Buyers must pick up the bison the day of the sale or make arrangements with the refuge manager prior to the sale. Animals become the buyer’s responsibility upon settlement on sale day. Load-out assistance is available until dusk the day of the sale. Stock racks and trailers should be covered or lined because bison transport best in dark conditions.

The sale will be outside and will take place rain or shine, so attendees are encouraged to dress accordingly. For more information, contact Maxwell Wildlife Refuge manager Cliff Peterson at (620) 628-4592, or KDWPT’s Region 4 Office in  Wichita at (316) 683-8069.

Youth hunters may hunt pheasant and quail free of competition during this special season

The beginning of November marks one of  Kansas’ most prized hunting seasons - pheasant and quail - and for hunters age 16 and younger, a jump-start on the regular season can mean the difference between a decent hunt and an unforgettable season. Nov. 2-3 is the  Kansas youth pheasant and quail season, which will be open to youth hunters under adult supervision.

Established as part of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Pass It On program, the youth season provides young hunters and their mentors the opportunity to be in the field before the crowds of opening day. Public lands and Walk-In Hunting Access lands are open, and hunting pressure is usually light. Adult mentors may not hunt during the two-day youth season, but they can pass on their hunting knowledge without giving up their own opening-day.

Resident youth 15 and younger do not need anything other than an adult supervisor to hunt during the youth season, although a hunter education certificate is recommended. Hunters age 16 will need a hunting license and a hunter education certificate, unless they purchase an apprentice license, which is a one-time deferral of the hunter education requirement. However, adult supervision is required at all times for an apprentice license holder, even during the regular season.

Daily bag limits during the youth pheasant and quail season are half those of the regular season; two rooster pheasants and four quail.

Resident youth age 16-21 also have the privilege of qualifying for a multi-year hunting license at $42.50 and a multi-year combination hunting/fishing license at $72.50. A great bargain, this multi-year hunting license is valid through the year the hunter turns 21.

For more information, including where to hunt and to view the current upland bird forecast, visit www.ksoutdoors.com/hunting.

Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors is proud to announce that they have been named as a finalist in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good Program!

Now they need your support! Vote for Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors atwww.100carsforgood.com on November 3rd!

 

If Pass It On is one of the 2 top vote getting organizations on that date, they will win a new Toyota Tundra! Having a new Tundra will greatly enhance their program, giving them a tremendous resource to travel about the state, taking kids hunting and fishing!

Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program will award 100 vehicles over the course of 50 days to 100 deserving nonprofit organizations based on votes from the public. Winning organizations will use the  Toyota vehicles to help expand their reach and missions within their communities.
 

Please support Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors on November 3rd!

Voting will take place at www.100carsforgood.com

Put a reminder in your calendar today and please share this with everyone you know!

Thank you for helping Pass It On - Outdoor Mentors give kids a chance to get outdoors!

By Southwick Associates

            The traditional image of men escaping for the weekend to experience the thrill and challenge of outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and shooting may be as antiquated as the gender make-up in the boardroom in scenes from television’s Mad Men. Annie it seems has definitely got her gun, and hunting license and fishing rod and reel. In fact, according to Women in the Outdoors in 2012, an in-depth report on women’s participation in outdoor recreation compiled by Southwick Associates, women now make up more than a quarter of all anglers and represent the fastest growing segment within the hunting and shooting communities making up as much as nearly 11 percent of all hunters.

“Many people may be surprised to learn the traditional view of the outdoors person is changing, but to anybody who hunts, fishes and shoots, the presence of women on the water, in the woods and at the range is anything but new, and certainly not surprising,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates.

The Women in the Outdoors in 2012 report is a comprehensive snapshot of women’s participation in outdoor sports ever published. It examines the level and rate of participation of females in freshwater and saltwater fishing, hunting and shooting and compares women and men’s purchasing habits for hunting, shooting and fishing equipment. It also offers a unique glimpse at their outdoor media consumption, providing invaluable insight to advertisers, manufacturers and retailers into where today’s outdoorswoman gets most of the information that affects her purchasing decisions.

Southwick Associates utilizes proprietary market data from their own research combined with the most recent and reliable data from key government sources to compile the report.

While the decision-guiding data found in most Southwick Associates market reports are available for sale, the company is making the Women in the Outdoors in 2012 report available athttp://www.southwickassociates.com/portfolio-view/women-in-the-outdoors-in-2012/