Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Water quality good, park open
MEADE — Despite local rumors, Lake Meade State Park, 8 miles south and 5 miles west of Meade, is open for business and all water activities. Last year, the lake was closed to all water activities from late July to mid-October due to a blue-green algae bloom. However, the park remained open to camping and other activities.

The lake no longer has a blue-green algae bloom because the algae cannot survive cold winter temperatures. However, there is a possibility that the lake could experience another bloom this summer due to its high nutrient content. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks along with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are currently exploring options to reduce nutrients in the lake.

“As we look forward to a busy season, we ask everyone to pay attention to notifications regarding the park and lake,” says park manager Matt Trujillo. “Currently, we are under a burn ban so, we are not allowing any open fires at this time. That could change whenever we receive sufficient rainfall.”

For more information, phone the park office at 620-873-2572.
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Greater Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido)Image via Wikipedia Annual event to feature experts from throughout prairie grouse range
HAYS — On Oct. 4-6, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) will host the 29th meeting of the Prairie Grouse Technical Council (PGTC) at Fort Hays State University in Hays. Prairie grouse conservationists from across the country — both professional and amateur — will gather to share knowledge, data, and appreciation of prairie grouse populations throughout their range.

The prairie grouse family includes sage grouse, lesser and greater prairie chicken, Attwater’s prairie chicken, and sharp-tailed grouse. The meeting location is near an expanding population of lesser and greater prairie chickens — the only place in the world where these two species overlap in range — and hybridization has been documented in this area.

Participants will have the opportunity to see the impact of Farm Bill programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), on prairie grouse populations in western Kansas.

For professional biologists attending, abstracts for the meeting are now being accepted. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is Aug. 15. Authors will be notified by Sept. 1 if their submissions have been accept or not. Presentation of abstracts should be limited to 15 minutes. Speakers will be notified of the day, time, and location of their presentations. Email abstracts to Jim Pitman ( in Microsoft Word or plain text format. Those who do not have email may fax abstracts to 620-342-6248 or mail them to Jim Pitman, c/o KDWP, 1830 Merchant, Emporia, KS 66801.

State biologists attending are asked to submit reports on the status of prairie grouse in their states. Reports will include information on hunting and harvest of prairie grouse species by state (if applicable), population trends, conservation programs, and recent or ongoing research activities.

The meeting will include presentation of the Hamerstrom Award for the 29th PGTC Conference, and nominations for this award are now being accepted. This award was established in honor of Fred and Fran Hamerstrom, pioneers of prairie grouse research and management. The award recognizes “individuals and organization who have made significant contributions in prairie grouse research, management or other support programs that have enhanced the welfare of one or more species of prairie grouse in a particular state or region.” The deadline for nominations is Sept. 4.

In addition to the various prairie grouse reports, the event will feature presentations by experts in the field, field trips, educational meetings, and a banquet and auction.

For more information or to register, phone David Dahlgren at 785-628-8614 or email, or phone Pitman at 620-342-0658 or email him at Questions regarding the technical program should go to Pitman; all other logistical questions for the meeting should go to Dahlgren.
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Remains of the indian pueblo "El Cuartele...Image via Wikipedia Drive the Byway Weekend coming to the Western Vistas Historic Byway
SCOTT CITY — Lake Scott State Park, one of the state’s most scenic and historic parks, is open for business. The park almost completely encompasses a national historic landmark and is situated in a stunning canyon virtually hidden from nearby US-83 highway. Lake Scott State Park is home to El Cuartelejo, the northernmost pueblo site in the U.S., and the more than century-old Steele Homestead. Park visitors can enjoy beautiful camping facilities while hikers, horseback riders and naturalists have outstanding opportunities to view wildlife and native plants on the park’s nature trails.
Lake Scott State Park is situated near the south end of the state’s newest historic byway, the Western Vistas Historic Byway. On May 7 and 8, the byway will host a “Drive the Byway” weekend. Visitors to Lake Scott can drive the byway, which extends 102 miles from Scott City to Oakley to Sharon Springs, and discover the rich history and scenic beauty of this western Kansas route.
That weekend, travelers can enjoy the following experiences:
  • learn about the colorful adventurers scouting western Kansas, establishing frontier trails, forts, county seats, and railroad lines;
  • discover an ancient world where creatures swam in a vast inland sea;
  • experience the El Cuartelejo pueblo site where Taos Indians fled to escape Spanish persecution in what is now the southwest U.S.;
  • visit museums, art shows, and a car show; and
  • run a half-marathon on scenic backroads.
To learn more about the event, contact the Keystone Gallery at 620-872-2762 or visit the byway website at
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The Pronghorn is often mistakenly referred to ...Image via Wikipedia Dates set at April 21 meeting of Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission in Wichita
PRATT — At the Public Hearing portion of the April 21 meeting of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission, regulations for antelope and elk seasons were approved.
Pronghorn antelope season dates for 2011 include the follow: Archery – Sept. 24-Oct. 2 and Oct. 15-31; Muzzleloader – Oct. 3-10; and Firearm – Oct. 7-10. The application deadline for the resident-only firearm and muzzleloader permits is June 10. Resident and nonresident pronghorn antelope archery permits are unlimited and available over the counter through Oct. 30.
Elk season dates for 2011, both on Fort Riley (Unit 2A) and off the fort were also set: Archery statewide (except units 1 and 2A) — Sept. 19-Dec. 31; Fort Riley (Unit 2A) – Sept. 1-Oct. 2. Muzzleloader statewide (except Unit 2A and a portion of Morton County, Unit 1) – Sept. 1-Oct. 2; Fort Riley – Sept. 1-Oct. 2. Firearm statewide (except Unit 2A and Unit 1) – Nov. 30-Dec. 11 and Jan. 1-March 15, 2012; Fort Riley (Unit 2A) Antlerless Only permits first segment, Oct. 1-31, second segment, Nov. 1-30, third segment, Dec. 1-31. Fort Riley firearm season for holders of Either-Species/Either-Sex permits — Oct. 1-Dec. 31.
As in past seasons, a limited quota of any elk and antlerless only elk permits that are valid on Fort Riley (Unit 2A) and in units 2 and 3 will be available to residents and Fort Riley military personnel only. The application deadline for limited-quota elk permits is July 8, 2011. Unlimited hunt-own-land elk permits are valid in units 2 and 3 and will be available through March 14, 2012. Over-the-counter elk permits valid only in Unit 3 will be available through March 14, 2012. Applications will be available online June 8. No paper applications are available, but those without internet access may apply by phone, 620-672-5911, and ask for Licensing.
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Course designed to develop teaching skills prior to becoming a certified hunter education instructor
WICHITA — In the 2011 fall semester, Wichita State University will offer a course to train students in the knowledge and skills necessary to become certified as a volunteer Kansas Hunter Education Instructor through the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP). Students will learn about wildlife conservation, safe gun handling, and the role of hunting in conservation. Wildlife management, firearm safety, and other topics will also be covered.
The 2 credit-hour course is currently scheduled for 2:30 p.m. each Wednesday of the semester. In addition, a 4-hour session on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 9 a.m. is mandatory. This session will take place at Michael Murphy and Sons, 6400 SW Hunter Road just north of Augusta and will involve field work in live fire training and use of trail walks and other training aids in simulated hunting situations.
The course will focus heavily on developing instructor presentation skills using lecture, training aids, electronic media, and internet instruction.
“I’m excited about this course,” says Wayne Doyle, course instructor and former statewide hunter education coordinator for KDWP. “I think it has a lot of potential. I’ve been telling instructors for years that what they need to improve most is their presentation skills. This is important whether you’re a farmer, a businessman, or a teacher, but a lot of our guys have not had much training in this area. And there’s no one ‘right’ way. We want to teach them to use the tools best adapted to their personalities, whether it’s lecture, one-on-one instruction, or audio-visual tools. The point is, we want them to be more effective communicators.” 
No previous courses or experience is required for this course although some experience with hunting is recommended. To find a course description, go online to . Write down the course numbers, then phone 316-978-3055 for enrollment information.
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Thursday, April 21, 2011


Raccoon (Procyon lotor).Image via Wikipedia
Young animals may seem abandoned but are seldom alone in the wild; “rescue,” however, may kill them
PRATT — Spring is a time of rebirth and birth, with trees budding and young wildlife being born and hatched, and different levels of parental care are employed within the animal kingdom, all designed to work without human interference. But one common problem occurs when seemingly abandoned or orphaned wildlife are picked up by well-intentioned persons, often with tragic results.

Mammals such as deer often leave their young to search for food. Deer fawns are born with natural camouflage and little scent, making it difficult for predators to detect them. A spotted coat helps hide young as they sit motionless in surrounding cover. These adaptations make it possible for the doe to move about and feed, maintaining her strength as she provides for her young. Raccoons and other mammals employ similar strategies.

Well-meaning individuals sometimes discover young deer, raccoons, foxes, rabbits, or skunks and assume that they are orphaned or abandoned. Usually, the mother is close at hand but out of sight waiting for the human intruders to leave the area. In this situation, it is extremely important to leave the animals as found in the wild. To pick them up and take them home is illegal, for good reason. Wild animals often have very specific dietary requirements and often die under human care. Those that do survive have little chance of surviving if returned to the wild.

Another reason to avoid picking up wild animals is health. Wild animals carry diseases and parasites that can infect humans or their pets. Dogs, if not vaccinated, may contract distemper from infected coyotes, foxes, or even weasels. Bobcats can transmit a similar disease to domestic cats. Ticks from host animals can expose humans to Lyme disease, and perhaps the greatest danger wild animals pose to humans is rabies. Many animals can carry rabies for several days without showing any outward symptoms.

Pet dogs and cats should also be restrained during the season when young birds, rabbits, and other wildlife are young. Both dogs and cats can be deadly to wild young, no matter how friendly they may seem to humans.

It can be a wonderful experience to see young animals in the wild, but for the benefit of the wildlife, it is important to leave them in the wild, where they are best equipped to survive.

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License purchase means more angling opportunity
PRATT — Spring is a time of renewal, anticipation, and respite from a long winter. But for anglers, spring means just one thing: the fish are biting somewhere. April, May, and June are the best months to fish in Kansas, and fishing opportunities have never been better. Anglers preparing for another great year must remember their most important piece of equipment — a fishing license.

Not only is a fishing license required for all resident anglers age 16 through 64 and all nonresidents 16 and older, but money from Kansas fishing license purchases goes directly to supporting the management of Kansas’ fisheries. The following projects were made possible by Kansas fishing license dollars supporting the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks in 2010:
  • access to 1,500 acres of private ponds and 90 miles of streams through the Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats program (F.I.S.H.);
  • fishing rights through the Community Fisheries Assistance Program to almost 240 community-owned waters, removing additional local fees to fish these waters;
  • fisheries law enforcement resources;
  • fight against the spread of invasive species such as zebra mussels, white perch, and Asian carp;
  • sampling and research to improve the state’s fisheries resources;
  • introduction of fishing to more than 10,000 kids at KDWP fishing clinics and derbies;
  • a mobile aquarium exhibit that displayed live Kansas fish to more than 150,000 people;
  • four fish hatcheries and maintenance of facilities at 40 state fishing lakes;
  • stocking of more than 150,000 rainbow trout, providing winter fishing opportunities;
  • 138,000 catfish added to urban waters for close-to-home angling; and
  • more than 82,000,000 sport fish stocked in Kansas reservoirs, state fishing lakes, and community lakes.
High-quality fishing is just a lure’s throw away from just about anywhere in Kansas today. To learn where all of these great fishing opportunities are located, pick up a 2011 Fishing Atlas at the nearest license vendor or download it online at While at this website, get all the inside information by checking out the 2011 Fishing Forecast, view weekly updated fishing reports, and sign up for fisheries biologist newsletters.

Purchase of a Kansas fishing license helps keep Kansas fishing outstanding, and renewing a license is more convenient than ever. Just, phone 1-800-918-2877, or stop by any local sporting goods retailer.

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May 2 auction raises scholarship money for Outdoor Adventure Camp

PARSONS — Looking for some bargains on fishing, hunting, and camping equipment? Plan on attending the Outdoor Writers of Kansas (OWK) fundraising auction May 2 at the City Municipal Building, 112 South 17th Street in Parsons. The event will start at 7:30 p.m.

Among items up for bid will be two free nights of lodging at Timberhill Lodge (a $300 value), a Bushnell range finder, rods and reels, lots of soft-plastic fishing lures, soft-sided tackle boxes, camping equipment, books, and more.

OWK is an organization with members who promote the Kansas outdoors through writing, photography, broadcast, and art. Members get together for fall and spring conferences, and to raise money for programs designed to get youth outdoors. Proceeds from the spring auction help send underprivileged kids to the Kansas Wildlife Federation’s weeklong Outdoor Adventure Camp in June.

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Six-day camp teaches youngsters outdoor skills from fishing, swimming, and star-gazing to canoeing, archery, and wingshooting
JUNCTION CITY — The Kansas Wildlife Federation (KWF) and the K-State Cooperative Extension Service are sponsoring the 23rd Annual Outdoor Adventure Camp (OAC) June 5-10 at the Camp WaShunGa area of Rock Springs 4-H Center, near Junction City. Youngsters ages 10 through 12 are eligible to attend.

“This six-day summer camp is for kids who either enjoy the outdoors or want to learn more about it,” says KWF event organizer Tommie Berger. “If you are a Kansas youngster who will be in age group 10 through 12 this summer — or are a parent of one of these youngsters — and enjoy being outdoors, please consider this opportunity. It is open to all Kansas boys and girls. We even get a few youngsters from surrounding states. And we allow youngsters to come back as junior counselors once they turn 16.”

Participants will spend mornings exploring the grounds at Rock Springs with instructors, observing Kansas animals and plants close-up. Session subjects include insects, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, fish management, wildlife management, wetlands, birds, and stream ecology. Afternoons will be spent learning about birds of prey, skins and skulls, bats, streams, and more general topics, including ecology, wetlands, riparian areas, and watersheds. Instructors from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Kansas State University, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, county conservation districts, the Riley County Fish and Game Association, 4-H clubs, and other organizations will be on hand.

“This camp is meant to be an outdoor experience just short of camping in a tent, so we’ll sleep in screened-in bunk houses that do not have air conditioning,” Berger explains. “But it’s not truly primitive; the swimming pool and dining hall are the main hubs of activity during free time.”

After dark, participants may prowl for owls, star-gaze, or watch bats hunt bugs. Evening swims will be followed by campfire stories and snacks. One evening will feature a friendly fishing competition.

Other activities include scavenger hunts; swimming and canoeing; fishing; rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, archery, and pellet gun shooting; arts and crafts; and horseback riding. A trip to the Milford Nature Center and Fish Hatchery will occupy one day.

Participants should bring a swimsuit, sleeping gear, and clothes for a week. Sunscreen, insect repellent, a cap, a fishing pole, and a water bottle are also recommended. Food, instruction, and lodging are all included in the $250 price of the six-day camp. Some conservation groups and sportsman’s clubs offer Outdoor Adventure Camp scholarships. The Kansas Wildlife Federation and the Outdoor Writers of Kansas offer scholarships in cooperation with Kansas Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Space is limited to 50 youngsters, and the registration deadline is June 4.

“Youngsters and parents are required to sign a Code of Conduct form, which is basically an acknowledgement that everyone is aware of the camp rules and policies,” cautions Berger. “If poor behavior or homesickness lead to a child being sent home, there are no refunds, so please consider that before enrolling a youngster in OAC.”

For application, camp, or scholarship information, write Outdoor Adventure Camp, Theresa Berger, 406 S. New York Ave., Sylvan Grove, KS 67481; phone785-526-7466; or e-mail Checks should be made out to the Kansas Wildlife Federation.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011


Fancy Creek Range gets upgrade with help of grants
MANHATTAN — The Friends of Fancy Creek Range will dedicate a new 50-meter shooting lane on Saturday, April 16, at 10 a.m. at the range in Tuttle Creek State Park, near Manhattan. The range dedication is free, but regular range fees will apply for those who want to test their skills on the new lane.

The Fancy Creek Range 50-meter lane was constructed with grants from the federal Wildlife Restoration Act, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Justin Corbet Shooting Foundation, and the National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation.

During the year, the range hosts a variety of events and services, such as NRA Kids Day and Women on Target, from the Women of the NRA. The range also offers range safety and officer training, 50- and 100-meter rifle lanes, 7-, 10-, and 22-meter pistol lanes, and rimfire silhouette shooting.

The Fancy Creek Range is located approximately one-half mile east of the junction of U.S. Highway 77 and Kansas Highway 16. Because the range is located within Tuttle Creek State Park, a park permit is required to enter. The range is normally open the first and third weekends and the fourth Thursday of every month.
For more range information, contact Kerry Moore, Friends of Fancy Creek Range, at 785-485-5527.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011


O.K. Kids day scheduled for April 16 meets scheduling conflicts
WEBBER — This year’s O.K. Kids Day at Lovewell State Park, originally scheduled for Saturday April 16, has been cancelled due to program scheduling conflicts.

Lovewell State Park facilities previously closed for the winter season are scheduled to be open by April 15, including Cottonwood and Cedar Point utility campgrounds and shower and restroom facilities, the Willow shower and restroom facility, Rosehill and Walleye Point dump stations, and Rosehill and Pioneer fish cleaning stations.

Lovewell State Park office will begin regular weekend hours April 16, with Fridays open until 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office will be closed periodically through the week, by posted notice, to accommodate weekend staffing. For more information, phone the state park office at 785-753-4971.

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Ducks UnlimitedImage via Wikipedia
Event celebrates Cheyenne Bottoms’ unique wetlands system
HOISINGTON — The 6th annual Cheyenne Bottoms Wetlanders Festival will take place April 15-17 in Hoisington. Organized and hosted by Hoisington Main Street, Inc., the festival celebrates the Cheyenne Bottoms region and the myriad flora and fauna it harbors. Activities for the whole family are designed to showcase these natural wonders.

Most activities will occur on Saturday, April 16, but some will be held on April 15 and April 17. Included in the festivities is a Ducks Unlimited Banquet on April 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hoisington Knights of Columbus Hall. On April 16, participants can compete in a 5k run, take tours of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center and Cheyenne Bottoms, watch a Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks K-9 dog demonstration, enjoy children's story time, test archery skills, compete in a fish casting contest, hone skills at a duck calling clinic, and learn more about Kansas mammals.

The event ends with a 10th anniversary remembrance of the tornado that hit Hoisington on April 21, 2001. Most events are free of charge. For more detailed information, go online to

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Student organization to hold banquet and dinner April 29
MANHATTAN — The Kansas State University Ducks Unlimited chapter (KSU DU) has recently been recognized as a “Sweet 16 Collegiate Chapter” by Ducks Unlimited (DU), placing them in the top 16 among 100 collegiate chapters nationally. DU adopted the NCAA Basketball Championship terminology because the announcement came during the recent tournament in March. The K-State chapter has more than 20 active committee members who hail from all parts of Kansas, as well as Texas and Missouri. Since the beginning of 2010, this chapter raised more $10,000 for wetland conservation.

“Chapters are ranked by the dollars they raise, and the highest-ranked chapter automatically wins,” says chapter spokesman Scott Alexander. “There are no upsets in this bracket. The only prize for making the Sweet 16 is being acknowledged in Ducks Unlimited, the national organization’s magazine. There’s no award ceremony, just pride and bragging rights.”

On April 29, KSU DU will host a dinner banquet at Purple Wave Auction Group in Manhattan. The doors will open at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. and a live auction following.

“The chapter would strongly encourage everyone to come out and support their alma mater, the ducks, or both,” Alexander says. “Chances are there may be a young man or woman on the committee from your home town who would also appreciate your support. The K-State DU chapter is looking to make a run at the “Elite 8” for 2011, and a successful fundraising banquet would help that effort. The chapter is also looking for more committee members from the K-State student body.”

"The true reward for our efforts as a college chapter is knowing that we are contributing to DU's efforts and are helping to ensure that future generations can experience waterfowl migrations at least as numerous as what they are today," adds chapter president Patrick Mellard.

Those who are able to attend or have questions about the event should contact Mellard at

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Event to honor Tuttle Creek State Park ranger
WAMEGO — On June 26, 2010, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) ranger Luke Nihart died of injuries he received while patrolling Tuttle Creek State Park in the early morning hours of the park’s annual Country Stampede Music Festival. The 32-year-old Nihart, an 11-year KDWP veteran, lost control of his ATV while entering a parking lot. It was a great loss for Nihart’s family and for KDWP. In 2005, Nihart had received a commendation for valor shown in a water rescue on Tuttle Creek in which he and another ranger exposed themselves to dangerous conditions to rescue boaters caught in a severe thunderstorm on the lake.

To honor Nihart, the Wamego MOMs Running For Others will conduct a Luke Nihart Memorial Run on Saturday, April 16. The event is being held in association with Wamego’s 24th Annual Tulip Festival. The race will include a 5k run-walk and a 10k run beginning at 8 a.m. at the Wamego Recreation Complex, on the southwest corner of Highway 24 and Balderson Boulevard in Wamego. Online reservations are available at Race packets and registrations will be available on Friday, April 15, from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. at the Wamego Chamber Of Commerce, 529 Lincoln Avenue in Wamego. Same-day registration will be available on Saturday, April 16, from 7 a.m.-7:30 a.m. Strollers are welcome in the 5K race.
For the kids, there will be a “bounce house” and gymnastics obstacle course available for $5 per child, unlimited play time. These are open activities, not competition, and all money will go to the Nihart Children’s Education Fund.

“Running has often been described by those mourning losses as an avenue to find peace throughout the grieving process,” explains Jessica Kueker, event organizer and founder of the MOMS group. “As someone who runs, I can see how this could be true. I have seen how other runs have benefitted great causes, and there appears to be a huge running community in our area, so it made sense to have a run be our fundraiser for the Nihart family.”

Nihart graduated from Wamego High School in 1995, then attended Cloud County Community College for two years prior to graduating from Kansas State University in 2000 with a B.S. in agriculture. He also graduated from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in December of 2000. After graduation, he worked for a short time as a park ranger at El Dorado State Park before accepting the position at Tuttle Creek. An avid outdoorsman, Nihart was especially interested in getting youth involved in the shooting sports and other outdoor activities.

For more information, email

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Map of USA with Kansas highlightedImage via Wikipedia
Kansas Wildscape, Wildlife and Parks events held statewide throughout summer
LAWRENCE — The Kansas Wildscape Foundation works closely with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) on a number of programs, but Outdoor Kansas for Kids (O.K. Kids) may do more than any other to help promote the department’s mission “to instill an understanding of our responsibilities to the land.” O.K. Kids gets youngsters outside and into nature in ways that can make a lasting impact on their lives.

Most kids no longer grow up in rural environments where knowledge of wildlife and the land are sewn into the fabric of their lives. That’s where O.K. Kids comes in. The program’s mission is “to provide multiple outdoor recreation opportunities for Kansas youth with adult partnering and mentoring to encourage outdoor recreational opportunities and promote and provide an active lifestyle as an alternative to sedentary activities.”

That’s good news for kids and conservation of the land. O.K. Kids covers the entire state of Kansas. Most events are held at the Kansas state parks, but other venues, such as city and county parks and recreation departments and private sites also hold O.K. Kids events. More than 50 sites host O.K. Kids events annually. Participation has steadily grown, with more than 13,000 Kansas youth and their parents or grandparents enjoying the outdoors at 46 different sites across Kansas in 2010. Events are free to all participants and open to all.

Through these events, youth learn about Kansas natural resources and wildlife primarily through games and activities. Staff at each site determine specific activities offered to participants based on local resources and perceived community interests and needs. Kansas Wildscape Foundation provides the operating manuals, event signage, free participant caps or T-shirts, gifts, and prizes, as well as overall organizational, promotional, and marketing support. Not all activities are nature-oriented, but all are outdoors in settings that expose youth to nature. Events include activities such as fishing derbies and clinics, wingshooting instruction, horseshoes, mini-triathlons, scavenger hunts, volleyball, sack races, archery, bird watching, birdhouse building, hiking, bike safety clinics, outdoor cooking contests, and much more.

The following is a list of 2011 O.K. Kids Day events throughout the state. For more information, phone 785-843-9453 or 1-866-655-4377,, or visit O.K. Kids at the Kansas Wildscape website, For those areas listed at state parks, go to the state park locations page on the KDWP website,, to find phone numbers for each park. More events may be scheduled at a later date, so check these websites throughout the summer for updated information. (If the event has a sponsor, they are listed in parentheses after the event.)

  • April 16 — First City TRYathlon for Kids (Leavenworth Parks and Recreation), 7 a.m.-10 a.m., Riverfront Community Center;
  • April 20 — Cross Timbers State Park Earth Day (Toronto Reservoir) 9 a.m.-2 p.m.;
  • April 23 — Cheney Lake Association O.K. Kids Day 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Cheney State Park;
  • April 27 — Kids Conservation Roundup (Northwest Kansas Conservation and Environmental Alliance), 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Colby;
  • April 29 — Hillsdale Watershed Festival (Hillsdale Water Quality Project), 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Hillsdale State Park or Spring Hill Civic Center (phone 913-783-4507); and
  • April 30 — Ernie Miller Nature Center/Timber Ridge Adventure Center O.K. Kids Event (Olathe), 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Timber Ridge Adventure Center in Olathe.
  • May 1 — Kanza Days O.K. Kids Fishing Derby (Winfield Recreation Commission) 1 p.m.-3 p.m., Winfield City Park;
  • May 7 — Meade State Park O.K. Kids Day, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.;
  • May 7 — Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Commission O.K. Kids Day, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Lakeside Park;
  • May 14 — Fall River State Park Earth Day, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.;
  • May 14 — Gardner Fishing Derby (Gardner Parks and Recreation Commission), 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Gardner Lake;
  • May 14 — Lansing Fishing Derby (Lansing Parks and Recreation Commission), 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Kenneth W. Bernard Community Park.; and
  • May 21 — Watson Park O.K. Kids Day (Wichita), 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • June 3-4 — Sgt. Mills Jr. Fishing Derby (Arkansas City Recreation Commission), 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Veteran’s Lake;
  • June 4 — Dillon Nature Center/Wal-Mart O.K. Kids Fishing Derby (Hutchinson), 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m.;
  • June 4 — Gardner Bike Rodeo (Gardner Parks and Recreation Commission), 1 p.m.-3 p.m., Gardner Edgerton High School Parking Lot;
  • June 4 — Lakewood Fishing Derby (Salina Parks and Recreation Commission), 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m., Lakewood Park in Salina;
  • June 4 — Prairie Dog State Park O.K. Kids Day, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (Norton);
  • June 4 — Turner Recreation Commission Fishing Derby, 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. in Pierson Park (Kansas City, rain date June 11);
  • June 9-11 — Flint Hills Region Girl Scout O.K. Kids Day, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. each day, Girl Scout Camp Double E (Emporia);
  • June 11 — Cedar Bluff State Park Kids Outdoor Adventure, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.;
  • June 18 — Rose Hill Recreation Commission O.K. Kids Day Fishing Event, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Sienna Ranch Pond; and
  • June 18 — Wilson State Park O.K. Kids Day, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Kids Fishing Pond.
  • July 4 — Haysville Recreation Department O.K. Kids Fishing Derby, 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Riggs Park Pond.
  • August 13 — Clinton State Park O.K. Kids Day (Lawrence), 9-11 a.m.; and
  • August 27 — Olathe Parks and Recreation Commission Aquafest, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Cedar Lake (Olathe).
  • Nothing listed to date; check Wildscape website later in the summer.
  • Oct. 1 — El Dorado State Park O.K. Kids Day 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; and
  • Oct. 8 — Shawnee County O.K. Kids Day On the Trail, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Shawnee North Community Park Shelter (Topeka).

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Konza Prairie, in the Flint HillsImage via Wikipedia
Male chickens dance and “boom” to attract mates in elaborate ritual on the prairie
PRATT — Each spring, one of the most extraordinary rituals in all of nature occurs right here in Kansas — the courtship of the prairie chicken. The large expanses of natural prairie in Kansas may be awe-inspiring to humans, but to the prairie chicken, some patches are special. These are the mating grounds — called “leks” — where male chickens gather at dusk and dawn in elaborate rituals designed to attract females.
These areas, also called booming grounds, are actually formed in fall when the order of dominance is established among males. At this time, mature males gather in these relatively high, flat areas and attempt to establish small territories as close to the center of the lek as possible, where activity will be highest in spring. Although young males visit the lek, they are kept to the edges and are seldom given the opportunity to establish their own territories.

While the fall activity is important and interesting, it is the spring booming activity that attracts anyone fascinated by nature. Beginning in March and lasting through the end of May, male chickens display an incredible array of vocalizations and maneuvers to attract a female’s attention.

In the mating ritual, the male chicken's tail is elevated; horn-like feathers (called pinnae) on the neck are raised over the head; and the wings are lowered with the primary feathers spread. The bird stamps its feet while moving forward or in circles, and this is followed by a series of rapid tail snaps and fans. At the same time as the tail is clicked open and shut, a whoom-AH-oom sound is given as bright orange air sacs on the neck inflate for maximum exposure.

A second major display is flutter-jumping with associated cackling calls. The male jumps several feet into the air, flies forward, and lands. In so doing, the bird advertises its presence as well as the location of the lek. Flutter-jumping is a common tactic of peripheral males when females are near the center of the display ground.

A female will typically fly to the edge of a lek and walk slowly toward the center. When the hen enters a male’s territory, the male's behavior changes greatly. The ritual is performed with high frequency and extreme posturing. The male will display in circles around the female, showing all aspects of its plumage. At the peak of this performance, the dancer often spreads his wings and lays its head flat to the ground, as if bowing to the hen. If suitably impressed, the hen will flatten to the ground, signaling a willingness to mate.
Occasionally, fights break out among competing males. This is mostly ritual, as well, involving short jumps; striking with feet, beak, and wings; and face-offs in which the competitors whine and attempt to stare each other down. Injuries do occur but are seldom serious.

With its large, colorful air sacs, horn-like pinnae, and feathers growing all the way to its feet, the prairie chicken is one of the most beautiful and unusual birds in Kansas. And its mating ritual makes it one of the most fascinating birds to watch. Kansans are lucky to have the largest population of prairie chickens in the world, so viewing opportunities are good.

Two species of prairie chicken can be found in Kansas. The greater prairie chicken, by far the most populous, can be found throughout portions of northcentral and eastern Kansas, especially in the Flint Hills region. The lesser prairie chicken, which is slightly smaller and has red air-sacs instead of orange, can be found in pockets of native sandsage prairie in the southwest. The lesser prairie chicken male produces a higher-pitched, bubbly sound, or "gobble," leading to the term "gobbling grounds" for their leks. On a quiet spring morning, the sounds of both species can carry as far as two miles across the open prairie.

For a list of prairie chicken viewing opportunities, visit the Natural Kansas website or phone the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Emporia Office at 620-342-0658 or the Pratt Operations Office at 620-672-5911.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Chapter meeting Tuesday, April 12
PAOLA — Quail hunters and conservationists in Miami County have formed the 12th Quail Forever chapter in Kansas. The group, known as the Border Bobs Quail Forever chapter, will dedicate its efforts to improving habitat for bobwhite quail and providing opportunities for youngsters to learn about hunting, conservation, and the outdoors.
The chapter is led by newly-elected president Paul Scruggs of Paola. Scruggs' passion for quail hunting is fueled by owning bird dogs, and his passion for creating habitat has been fueled by efforts to improve quail numbers on his own property.
"Having a Quail Forever chapter provides a much more visible opportunity for others to get involved and will help conservation outreach to area landowners," Scruggs says. He adds that working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, and conservation districts in Miami, Franklin, Johnson, and Wyandotte counties to promote federal Conservation Practice 33 to landowners will also be crucial. Better known as "bobwhite buffers," the program establishes edge habitat along fields, streams, and woods that bobwhite quail need. There are currently 39,344 such acres enrolled in Kansas.
Scruggs also says the chapter's youth focus is equally important. "You can spend millions on habitat, but if you don't have anyone to take over down the road, it's all in vain. The Border Bobs Quail Forever chapter wants to get youth excited about being outdoors, to put that fire in them."
The chapter's next meeting is 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, at the Gardner Public Library. For more information about the chapter, including upcoming meetings and events, phone Scruggs at 913-221-5705.

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jason Naquin, rig...Image via Wikipedia
GREAT BEND — Getting lost in the wilderness, suffering a serious injury, or being caught in bad weather are among an outdoor enthusiast’s worst nightmares. Although uncommon, each of these scenarios can happen to anyone who spends time in the great outdoors. On April 17, visitors to the Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC), 10 miles northeast of Great Bend on K-156 Highway, have an opportunity to learn what to do in these situations during a program entitled “How to Survive an Outdoor Emergency,” presented by Peter Kummerfeldt, owner and chief instructor of Outdoor Safe, Inc. The program will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Kummerfeldt is a graduate of the Air Force Survival Instructor Training School and has served as an instructor at numerous other survival schools across the globe. He authored Surviving a Wilderness Emergency, has been featured on numerous television shows, and has addressed more than 20,000 people as the featured speaker at seminars, conferences, and national conventions.
Kummerfeldt’s program is informative, entertaining, and essential to a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts, including hunters, fishermen, campers, hikers, scouting groups, and 4-H groups. During this program, he will talk about techniques and equipment that work (and don’t work), as well as many wilderness survival myths.
This program is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. For more information about the program call the KWEC at 877-243-9268.

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Dedication of 1,400-acre tract of Flint Hills property slated for April 19
EURKEA — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has received a 1,400-acre parcel of land southeast of Eureka in Greenwood County thanks to the generosity of Dr. Frances Moss-Mayo. The land will be dedicated on Tuesday, April 19 at 10 a.m. and named the Frank and Frances Moss Wildlife Area, after Dr. Moss-Mayo’s grandparents, who originally owned the land.
Currently being managed for cattle grazing, this piece of property holds great potential for preservation of native Flint Hills prairie for public use. Vegetation includes native warm-season grasses and some wooded drainages that could provide excellent hunting, particularly for white-tailed deer, bobwhite quail, and prairie chicken. Small ponds on the area may also provide angling opportunities.
Appraised at more than $1.2 million dollars, the property was purchased using a U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Service grant, which Dr. Moss-Mayo matched by donating half the appraised value.
The dedication will be held on the property, located 2 miles east of Eureka on U.S. Highway 54, 4 miles south on Highway K-99, and approximately 5 miles east on 100th Street. For more information on the property or the dedication, phone KDWP Region 5 Public Lands supervisor Lance Hedges at 620-431-0380.

Camping Tips, Gear, and Places to Go

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Hunting is safe and getting safer, but hunters asked to check their safety list
PRATT — The youth/disabled and archery spring turkey seasons began April 1 and run through April 12, and the regular season runs April 13-May 31. During these seasons, Kansas hunters must remember one word that exemplifies the perfect hunt: safety. Responsible hunters are sure of their targets — and what lies beyond them — before firing, and they hunt defensively to protect themselves from the mistakes of others.
The following are just a few defensive safety tips to follow when pursuing America’s largest game bird this spring:
  • set up against a stump, tree, or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head;
  • never wear or carry the colors red, white, light blue, or black — the colors of a wild turkey gobbler — when turkey hunting;
  • eliminate movement and set up in open timber rather than thick brush;
  • avoid imitating the sound of a gobbling turkey;
  • watch other game and listen for the alarm cries of blue jays, crows, squirrels, or woodpeckers that can tip you off to the presence of another hunter;
  • assume any noise you hear is another hunter; and
  • never move, wave, or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence but remain still and call out in a loud, clear voice to announce.
Including the archery-only season and youth/disabled seasons, Kansas hunters will be able to hunt for two full months. During the youth season, youth 16 and younger must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older. The adult may not hunt during the youth season (except with archery equipment). No hunting license is required for resident hunters 15 and younger, but a valid Kansas turkey permit is required.
For more information, contact the nearest office of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks or visit the agency's website,

Ozark Fly Package Specials

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Lifejacket from MS Estonia.Image via Wikipedia
Boaters reminded of laws, safety rules that could save a life
PRATT — It’s springtime, and outdoor recreational users are taking to the water. Fishing, skiing, tubing, sailing, and paddle sports are common activities people enjoy while boating on Kansas waters. With the new season, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) reminds recreational enthusiasts that safety equipment, attention to rules, and properly-maintained equipment help make a safe and enjoyable trip.
The most valuable piece of equipment for both swimmers and boaters is the personal flotation device (PFD), commonly known as a life jacket. “Of the six boating-related fatalities that occurred in 2010, all were from drowning, and none of the victims wore a life jacket,” says Dan Hesket, boating law administrator for KDWP. “These tragedies illustrate the importance of obtaining and wearing a proper life jacket. New designs of life jackets, including inflatable designs, eliminate common excuses for not wearing them. These new PFDs are comfortable, fashionable, and designed to reduce any restrictions while moving around.”
Attending or completing an approved boating safety course is also highly recommended and is required for any person between the ages of 12 and 20 who wishes to operate a vessel (PWC, power boat, sailboat) without direct, on-board supervision. In addition, no one under the age of 12 may operate a vessel without direct, on-board supervision regardless of boater education certification. Information on courses may be found at the KDWP website, Just click “Boating/Boating Education.” This course provides information on types of equipment required on vessels, as well as others suggested to make the outing as safe as possible.
Many people are unaware that there are operating rules for boats on the water, which include being able to recognize buoy markings and the proper use of navigation lights. Knowledge of these rules can prevent dangerous, even deadly, situations.
Safety on the water is not all that is covered in a boating education course. Before turning the key, letting down the sail, or controlling a paddle, you must first get the boat to the water. Most of this involves the use of a trailer. Proper trailer inspections cover wheel bearings, trailer lights, winch straps, structural integrity of trailers, and properly-working trailer hitches.
Motorized boats and sailboats are required to be registered and properly numbered before operated on public waters of Kansas. Original registration papers must be on board and made available for inspection. Upon sale of a boat, the registration must be properly transferred to the new owner before it can be legally operated on public waters.
For more information on boating safety and boating laws, phone KDWP at 620-672-5911 and ask for Boater Education.