Monday, March 31, 2014

LESSER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN ADDED TO FEDERAL LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Secretary Robin Jennison reacted with
disappointment over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision Thursday to list the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened. Dan Ash, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), announced the decision last Thursday, citing habitat fragmentation, population declines, drought, and threats from development.

“This wasn’t the decision we hoped to hear,” Jennison said. “A lot of work went into a plan to show that state wildlife agencies could manage and conserve lesser prairie chickens without designating the species as threatened.”

For the past 18 months, KDWPT participated in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Interstate Working Group, established by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA). Wildlife biologists from agencies in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, as well as other partners, worked tirelessly to develop a Range-wide Lesser Prairie Chicken Plan (RWP) to conserve the species. Keith Sexson, KDWPT assistant secretary, was actively involved in the process and is pleased with the way state agencies worked together.

“The feeling among state wildlife agencies was that such a plan would benefit lesser prairie chickens through voluntary support from industry and private landowners, and perhaps dissuade the USFWS from listing the species,” said Sexson, KDWPT assistant secretary. “I’m proud of the effort and passion shown by our staff to help create this plan, and it demonstrates the ability for state fish and wildlife agencies to work together with industry and private landowners to deliver an approach that will result in positive conservation for the lesser prairie-chicken.”

While the USFWS endorsed the final version of the conservation plan, it didn’t prevent the final listing of the species.

“I believe the development and initial success of the range-wide plan shows that our staff have the expertise necessary to manage lesser prairie chickens and their habitats. I think we missed an opportunity to break out of the status quo in managing species in need of conservation,” Jennison said. “Had the final decision been ‘not warranted,’ the range-wide plan would have represented a groundbreaking new approach for the way these decisions are made. We have a plan that would have conserved prairie chickens and benefitted all stakeholders without the burdensome red tape and often times heavy-handed approach of the federal government.”

The final RWP is the result of an unprecedented effort and collaboration among state agencies, landowners and industry. The RWP is a comprehensive lesser prairie chicken conservation/management plan that provides a vehicle to bring industry, government and private landowners together to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken and its habitat. To date, more than $20 million has been committed by oil, gas, wind and electric transmission industries that will impact nearly 4 million acres, enhancing and developing critical lesser prairie-chicken habitat.

Information about the RWP is available on the WAFWA website, www.wafwa.org.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

SPRING INTO SUMMER AT KANSAS STATE PARKS

English: Kanopolis State Park. I took this mys...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Free entry to all Kansas state parks, along with special events for the family
TOPEKA­ – Harsh winter weather has people longing for warmer days ahead, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has the perfect remedy for cabin fever. KDWPT invites outdoor enthusiasts to “Spring Into Summer” on Saturday, March 29 with a free entrance day and open houses at all Kansas state parks. Most parks will host special activities for the whole family to enjoy. Visit State Parks Open Houses to learn about the special events at participating parks.  
Plus, visitors can enter a statewide drawing to win a free one-night stay at a state park cabin of their choice. No purchase is necessary. The free one-night stay must be used in 2014, is subject to availability, and may be used for a single night or to extend a paid cabin reservation for another night. Limit one entry per person. The drawing will be held April 10, 2014. Local drawings will be held at each site for items such as T-shirts. Visitors do not need to be present to win.    
During Spring Into Summer, park goers can take advantage of low off-season camping permit prices. March 31 is the last day annual camping permits are priced at off-season discounts. On April 1, the prices increase to their regular prime-season levels. Visitors can purchase annual camping permits and make cabin or campsite reservations during the open houses, as well. For pricing information and to purchase permits online, go to the KDWPT website, ksoutdoors.com. For online permit purchases, click License/Permits. For campsite and cabin reservations, click Reservations.
Kansas motor vehicle owners can now buy an annual park vehicle permit as part of their vehicle registration process. The permit – called a Kansas State Parks Passport – costs $15.00, plus a 50 cents service fee to the county treasurer. This lower-price, non-transferable permit is available only during the vehicle registration process at a motor vehicle registration office, through the online vehicle registration site (www.kswebtags.org), or when registering by mail. The Kansas State Parks Passport will expire when the vehicle registration expires a year later.
The state parks and their scheduled events are listed below. All park offices will be open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The schedule is subject to change without notice. 
Cedar Bluff
  • Cabin and facility tours: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • Free hot dog feed: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • Drawings for one youth T-shirt, one adult T-shirt, one hoodie and one hat
Cheney
  • Drawings for some T-shirts
  • Cabin tours and tour the Ninnescah Sailing Association facilities
  • Visit with members of the Cheney Lake Association 
Clinton  
  • Drawing for a free T-shirt
  • Cabin Open House:  9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Wakarusa Valley Cabin
  • Animal Show-n-Tell: 11:00 a.m.3:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m., Park Office 
  • Search ‘n Find Activity: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Prizes for all who participate
  • Craft Area: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 pm   
  • Drawings for free T-shirts
Crawford
  • Free Welcome Back breakfast: 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m., Marina, hosted by Friends of Crawford State Park, Donations welcomed to fund the July fireworks display
  • Dedication for the Don Lamb Fishing Access Area: 10:00 a.m.
  • Disc golf tournament: 11:00 a.m., Disc golf area
  • Tours of the 160-acre Skinner Property: 1:00 p.m., Features history of the area prior to statehood and the “Bleeding Kansas” era
  • Tour a cabin: all day
Cross Timbers (Toronto Reservoir)
  • Timber Walker cabin tours: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Features recent improvements
  • Personal watercraft simulator: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Timber Walker Cabin
  • Courtesy boat inspections: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Toronto Point East boat ramp
Eisenhower
  • Cabin open for viewing, hot dogs and refreshments, games
  • 5K Run/Walk sponsored by Osage City Warmth Fund
  • Drawings for prizes
 El Dorado
  • Nature photography hike: 10:00 a.m., Walnut River Area trailhead in Eagle Pass campground.
  • Archery Range: Open all day
  • Archery lessons: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Equipment provided
  • Cabin tour: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Walnut River area
  • Free boat inspections: 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 pm., Park Office
Elk City
  • Fishing Derby: 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Kids Fishing Pond
  • Pasture Golf Tournament: Tee off 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.. $10 per team, First place prize awarded
  • Horseshoe Tournament: 3:00 p.m.  (2 Person Teams) $10 per team, First place prize awarded
  • Golf and horseshoe tournament proceeds benefit park projects
  • Free cookout: 5:00 p.m., Door prize drawings
Fall River
  • Willow Bend Cabin tours:10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Features recent improvements
Glen Elder (Waconda Lake)
  • Cabin open: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Hillsdale
  • Shooting range open: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Drawings for free T-shirts
Kanopolis
  • Cabin open house: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 
Lovewell
  • Cabin tours: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
  • Levi Strong 10K and 2-mile Run/Walk Benefit/Fundraiser: 10:00 a.m., Willow Group Shelter Registration forms available on Facebook "TEAM LEVI STRONG: OUTRUN CANCER 10k and 2 Mile Run/Walk"
  • Lovewell and Glen Elder Fishing Forecasts: 1:30 p.m., Willow Group Shelter
Meade
  • Office tours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Trout Derby: 7:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Drawings for a hoodie, two youth T- shirts, and two adult T-shirts
Milford
  • Crabapple Cottage open house: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.                
  • Adventure race: Times vary
  • Drawings for a hoodie, two water bottles with floating key chain, two T-shirts
Perry
  • Guided horse trail rides: 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., Wild Horse Campground (or ride on your own)
  • Potluck covered dish dinner:1:00 p.m., Wild Horse Campground
  • Project report and live auction: 1:30 p.m., Wild Horse Campground
  • Drawings for a hoodie and two T-shirts
Pomona:
  • Cabin and shelterhouse tours: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.:
  • 3rd Annual Easter egg hunt: 1:00 p.m.
  • Open House at Lighthouse Bay Marina
  • Miss Teen Kansas and vendors at Southwind Shelter
  • Scavenger hunt, RV Show, Food vendors
Prairie Dog (Keith Sebelius Reservoir)
  • Adobe and school house tours: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Cabin tours: 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • Drawings for one youth T-shirt, one adult T-shirt, one hoodie and one hat
 Prairie Spirit Trail
  • Old Depot Museum in Ottawa: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., Walk, bike or bring your pet. Free Lunch
Scott (Lake Scott)
  • Cabin tours: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • Display of John Deere Gators and utility tractors: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • Display of Traeger Grills by Percival Packing: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • Refreshments
  • Drawings for coffee mug, plastic water bottle, baseball cap, hoodie and a T-shirt
Tuttle Creek
  • Archery Range: 10:00 - 2:00 p.m., Open for archery, slingshot, hatchet throwing, crossbow
  • Nature Bird Hike: 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Meet at park office
  • Kiowa Cabin open house: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., refreshments served   
  • Hunter Education Field Day: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Fancy Creek Range (Students must also attend classroom sessions at Green Valley Community Center March 25 and April 1 and pre-register at the park office)
  • Drawings for two T-shirts, a hoodie, coffee mug
Webster
  • Plainville Boat Shop will display boats and equipment: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • Cabin tours: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Refreshments
  • Drawings for two youth T-shirts, two adult T-shirts and a hoodie
Wilson
  • Cabin open: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
  • Cabin tours: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Refreshments 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

ENTER WILD ABOUT KANSAS YOUTH PHOTO CONTEST NOW

Sundown - February 24, 2010 - Kansas City
Sundown - February 24, 2010 - Kansas City (Photo credit: CoolValley)
Your next outdoor photo could land you in Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine
PRATT – Whether it’s a snapshot of a peaceful moment fishing on the lake, the fiery colors of a Kansas sunset, or the image of a white-tailed fawn at rest, Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine staff want to see Kansas outdoors through the lens of your camera. Photo submissions for the 2nd annual “Wild About Kansas” junior photo contest are being accepted now through Oct. 24, 2014. Participants can submit photos in three categories: wildlife, outdoor recreation or landscapes. There is no fee to enter, and the contest is open to both residents and nonresidents, age 18 or younger.
“Kansas is a state filled with a plethora of diverse and awe-inspiring natural resources, and this contest is just one more way we can enjoy and share those resources with others,” said Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine associate editor, Nadia Marji.
Budding photographers can submit up to three photos and multiple entries may be submitted in the same category. Photos must be taken within the state of Kansas and must be the entrant’s original work. Each photo will be judged on creativity, composition, subject matter, lighting, and the overall sharpness. First, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes will be awarded in each category, as well as one honorable mention per category. Winners will be featured in the Kansas Wildlife & Parks January/February 2015 photo issue.
Entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2014. An entry form must be submitted for each participant. Photo format should be JPEG and a file size should be not less than 1mb and not more than 5mb.
For more information and entry forms, visit ksoutdoors.com/services, or contact Nadia Marji at nadia.marji@ksoutdoors.com.

Monday, March 24, 2014

KANSAS WETLANDS EDUCATION CENTER OFFERS PRAIRIE CHICKEN LEK TOURS

Lek tours draw people from around the world each year to the Great Plains
GREAT BEND – While most people are still snug in their beds, prairie chickens are busy
putting on a show that is critical to their survival. Each spring, just before dawn, male prairie chickens can be seen strutting around on communal mating grounds known as “leks,” where they fight, sing, and dance to win the affections of females. Only the most extravagant displays will do, and only the best males will get to mate.
Kansas prairies are the stronghold of both species of prairie chickens, the greater and the lesser. The greaters inhabit the tallgrass and mid-grass prairies of the Flinthills in east-central Kansas and the Smoky Hills of northcentral Kansas. Lesser prairie chickens inhabit the shortgrass prairies of southwest and west-central Kansas.
“On a still morning on the prairie, the greater prairie chicken’s song, called a boom, can be heard over a mile away,” said Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) manager Curtis Wolf. “It is one of the most comical and unique natural phenomenons people can watch.”
Male greater prairie chickens boom by expelling air from sacks on their throats called timpani. When inflated, the orange timpani are all part of the elaborate display that includes rapid foot stomping, booming, clucking and posturing. The dancing is periodically stopped when the birds rush to invisible boundary lines to defend their display territory against other dancing birds.
The KWEC at Cheyenne Bottoms, 10 miles northeast of Great Bend on K-156 Highway, invites you to come and witness this wonderful show during a greater prairie chicken lek tour. Tours are available to the public, age 12 and older, by reservation, April 1-30. The cost is $25 per person and reservations must be made at least two days in advance by calling the KWEC at (877) 243-9268. Tours are not available on all days and are limited to seven people, so interested parties are encouraged to inquire about availability.
Participants will meet and leave from the KWEC between 5:30-5:45 a.m., depending on the time of sunrise. Staff will drive participants to a local greater prairie chicken lek, where a trailer blind has been set up. From the blind, participants will be able to observe the prairie chickens on the lek, while a guide provides information about these interesting birds and their incredible spectacle. Participants should plan on being in the blind for at least three hours with no facilities.
For more information, or to schedule a tour, call the KWEC at (877) 243-9268.
For a list of other prairie chicken viewings offered throughout the state, visit www.naturalkansas.org/birding.htm.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

ARTIFICIAL WALLEYE SPAWNING A LABOR OF LOVE

A female walleye can release as many as 300,000 eggs, but less than 10 percent will survive in nature
PRATT – In late March, a placid lake surface might lead some to believe major fish activity has yet to begin, but for walleye, waves of commotion are occurring beneath the surface as males and females begin spawning. As soon as water temperatures hit 45-50 degrees, walleye begin the annual process, as other fish species do each spring. 
Most spawning activity occurs at night when female walleye search for the perfect rocky shoreline to lay their eggs, and male walleyes, who’ve been waiting on the spawning ground for days, fertilize them. With large females producing as many as 300,000 eggs, it’s hard to believe this species would need assistance with the process, but even the best laid plans are no match for Mother Nature. In Kansas lakes, less than 10 percent of naturally-spawned walleye eggs will hatch.
However, hatching success rates can be as high as 70 percent in a hatchery setting. That’s why every year about this time, you’ll see Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) fisheries biologists working tirelessly at select Kansas lakes. Biologists set nets to capture spawning walleye, then harvest the eggs of ripe females. Once collected, the eggs are then taken to a station where they are fertilized with milt, or sperm, taken from male walleyes caught from the same body of water. After fertilization, the eggs are immediately delivered to the Pratt and Milford fish hatcheries where fish culturists work around the clock to ensure high hatch and survival rates of young walleye, which are then stocked into Kansas lakes as is, or used to produce other hybrid fish species. Last year, KDWPT’s Walleye Culture Program produced 43 million walleye fry (just hatched fish) and 660,000 walleye fingerlings (2-inch fish). With that same batch of eggs, KDWPT staff were also able to produce 7.5 million saugeye fry, 400,000 saugeye fingerlings (walleye/sauger hybrids).
In addition to walleye, KDWPT hatcheries also produce bluegillchannel catfish, crappie, largemouth bassredear sunfishsaugersaugeye,smallmouth bassstriped bass, and wipers.
For more information on KDWPT hatcheries and the fish they produce, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Fishing/Hatcheries.”

Saturday, March 22, 2014

KDWPT HITS RECORD ENROLLMENT FOR SPRING TURKEY HUNTING ACCESS

Nearly 214,000 Walk-In Hunting Access acres are available this spring
PRATT – Hunting for spring turkeys can have it’s own set of challenges, but this year, finding
a place to hunt shouldn’t be one of them. Thanks to the Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) program offered through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), hunters in search of this hardy bird will have access to nearly 214,000 privately-owned acres, in addition to the state- and federally-owned wildlife areas. And accessing maps to these locations has never been easier before. Hunters can locate 2014 Spring WIHA lands by:
-Grabbing a printed copy of the2014 Spring Turkey Hunting Atlasavailable wherever licenses are sold
-Downloading an online copy of the2014 Spring Turkey Hunting Atlasfrom ksoutdoors.com
-Uploading the locations directly to a Garmin GPS Unit
-Uploading the locations to the Google Earth digital globe, or handheld device through Google Earth Mobile
Prior to accessing any Kansas WIHA properties, hunters are reminded to review the WIHA Area Rules & Information section of the2014 Spring Turkey Hunting Atlas.
Although there are no additional fees or sign-up required to access Kansas WIHA properties, hunters are still encouraged to be courteous if someone else is already using the property. All enrolled tracts are marked with WIHA signs to designate boundaries. If a tract shows on the map but doesn’t have signs, don’t access it. WIHA land is enrolled voluntarily by Kansas landowners, who may remove their property from the program at any time, for any reason. If a tract is removed, the signs will be taken down. It is up to hunters to be responsible, respectful, ethical, and safe to ensure the future availability of these properties.
For more information on the WIHA program, visit ksoutdoor.com/wiha.
The 2014 spring turkey season will begin with the archery and youth/disabled season April 1-8, followed by the regular firearm seasonApril 9-May 31.
2014 Spring turkey permits­ for Units 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 are available online or at any license vendor through May 30.
Hunters who drew a Unit 4 (southwest Kansas) spring turkey permit earlier this year may also use their Unit 4 permit in adjacent Units 1, 2 and 5.

Monday, March 17, 2014

KICK START THE NEW SEASON WITH A SHED HUNT

One deer’s trash can be one hunter’s trophy after a successful shed hunt
PRATT – No one really knows why deer evolved to shed their antlers every year, but for
hunters looking for a way to connect with the world of big game outside of hunting season, knowing “why” isn’t nearly as important as “where” deer shed their antlers.
“We know the mechanisms of the process, but can only speculate on the why. Why would a species spend so much effort and energy to produce these large antlers and then give them up and go through the same process again each year?” says Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) big game program coordinator, Lloyd Fox. “One reason might be because antlers get broken each year and the males want to have their most impressive rack, a new set, prior to the rut. Otherwise the old bucks would have busted remnants within a few years. Another speculation is that carrying around those large antlers is an energy drain and deer without antlers will spend less energy (thus have higher survival) as they go through the wintertime with its reduced food availability. Nobody really knows.”
Commonly referred to as “sheds,” deer antlers that have disconnected from a deer’s skull can provide hunters with valuable information about the buck that was carrying it. Most importantly, a shed antler tells a hunter that a particular buck survived the hunting seasons. A shed may also tell us whether the deer was a whitetail or mule deer, it’s approximate age, whether it was part of a “typical” or “non-typical” rack, and  it can provide information on a past location of the deer. 
The bulk of Kansas whitetail bucks,shed their antlers in February. Just like with any biological process, not every deer is the same. Some bucks have been known to shed as early as November/early December, while others have kept their antlers well into mid-April.
“Bucks will shed antlers over a wide time period, but each individual sheds about the same time each year,” said Fox. “In fact, some data has shown bucks to shed their antlers within a week of the same day each year of their life. It just depends.”
When in search of these left-behind treasures, hunters are encouraged to keep the following things in mind:
-Familiarize yourself with department procedures and the distinction between a shed and a skull with antlers. (Possession of a skull with antlers attached requires a salvage tag.)
-Shed hunting is allowed on KDWPT- managed lands except WIHA, but it’s a good idea to check ahead of time because it’s not allowed on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national wildlife refuges. Landowner permission is required on all private land.
-During the spring, ticks can be widespread, so the use of an insect-repellent made with DEET can be a good defense.
For a list of public lands where you can shed hunt, visit ksoutdoors.com and click “KDWPT Info / Locations / Wildlife Areas.”

Sunday, March 16, 2014

KANSAS WILDLIFE, PARKS AND TOURISM COMMISSION TO MEET IN TOPEKA MARCH 20

Commission to hear free park entrance and fishing days, big game season recommendations
PRATT – The Kansas Historical Society History Center, 6425 SW 6th Ave., Topeka, will be March 20, 2014. The afternoon session will begin at 1:00 p.m. and recess at 5 p.m., with the evening session reconvening at 6:30 p.m.
the site of the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission public meeting and hearing
The afternoon session will begin with time for public comments on non-agenda items, followed by a general discussion period. Topics covered in the general discussion include: Secretary’s remarks regarding agency and state fiscal status and an update on the 2014 legislature, a briefing on tourism’s 2014 marketing plans, webless migratory birds, early migratory bird seasons, Fort Riley deer, the use of dogs to track wounded deer, coyote hunting during firearm deer season, hunting the same day a deer or turkey permit is purchased, and an update on the potential federal listing of lesser prairie chickens. 
During the afternoon session, commissioners will workshop items that were covered under general discussion at the January meeting. Workshop topics, which will be discussed for potential regulatory action at a future meeting, include regulations pertaining to upland birds, regulations regarding public lands, the five-year review of Kansas threatened and endangered species lists, and regulations pertaining to antelope season, bag limit, and permits. 
The commission will recess at 5 p.m., then reconvene at 6:30 p.m. at the same location for the public hearing. The public hearing will be focused on free park entrance and free fishing days; elk season, bag limit and permit; and deer season, including bag limit, and permits.
Time will be available in both the afternoon and evening sessions for public comment on topics not on the agenda. If necessary, the commission will reconvene at the same location at 9 a.m., March 21, to complete any unfinished business.
A commercial-free version of live video and audio streaming of commission meetings will be broadcast through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism website, ksoutdoors.com.
If notified in advance, the department will have an interpreter available for the hearing impaired. To request an interpreter, call the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at 1-800-432-0698. Any individual with a disability may request other accommodations by contacting the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission secretary at (620) 672-5911.
The next commission meeting is scheduled for April 17, 2014 at the Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 East 29th St. N., Wichita.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

KDWPT’S PAM MARTIN HONORED WITH KACEE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AWARD

Martin conducted over 260 environmental education programs at the Kansas Wetland
Education Center last year alone
GREAT BEND ­– The Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) has announced the recipients of the 2014 Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education Awards. Among the winners was Pam Martin, an environmental educator with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) stationed at the Kansas Wetland Education Center near Great Bend. Nominated by peers, awardees exhibit outstanding innovation, leadership and achievement, as well as collaboration and cooperation within and beyond the environmental education field.
“KACEE is pleased to honor these deserving individuals and organizations, who are so dedicated to environmental education in Kansas,” said KACEE President Jeff Severin, director of sustainability at the University of Kansas.
Martin was a recipient of the Rising Star Award. This award recognizes individuals who are new to the conservation and environmental education field in Kansas, but are already making an impact. The nomination for Martin states:
It is hard to label Pam as an ”up-and-coming” environmental educator as she has already done so much in the field; she seems much more like a seasoned veteran. In her five years of environmental education, Pam Martin has established an incredible program at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center that rivals any environmental education program in the region. Martin has worked at KWEC since the Center opened in 2009. For the first year and a half, Martin was the only educator on staff and was responsible for establishing the core foundations of the KWEC’s educational programs. Her passion and commitment to education is evidenced in the sheer volume of programs she does– In 2013 Martin conducted 264 environmental education programs. Martin provides education programming to area elementary students, as well as family programs, programs through the Great Bend Recreation Commission, Scouts programs, and festivals. One of her most impressive accomplishments is the relationship she has established with the USD 428-Great Bend school district. As a result of her efforts in working with the district administrators and the various science committees, Pam has been able to schedule programs with every K-6 classroom in the district. Martin’s work is helping to inspire and educate our next generation about the important role of wetlands in our state and KACEE is extremely proud to honor her with the Rising Star Award for Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education.
Awardees will be recognized at an Awards Celebration hosted by KACEE on Friday, April 4, at Sunset Zoo in Manhattan. The event is sponsored by KACEE, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and Sunset Zoo. Ticket information is available atwww.kacee.org or by calling (785) 532-1902.

Friday, March 14, 2014

LESSER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN RANGE-WIDE PLAN REACHES 2.5 MILLION ACRES IN FIVE STATES, INDUSTRY ENROLLMENT PROVIDES NEARLY $15 MILLION FOR HABITAT CONSERVATION

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Approves Oil and Gas Industry Candidate Conservation
Agreement with Assurances
Private companies in five states have now enrolled more than 2.5 million acres in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan, representing oil and gas, pipelines, electric transmission and wind energy, resulting in nearly $15 million for habitat conservation over the next three years. Added to more than 1.3 million acres of oil and gas leases under conservation agreements in New Mexico, this brings the total industry commitment close to 4 million acres.
Range-wide plan enrollment now includes 14 electric transmission companies, representing most of the electric grid across the species’ range in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Also, eight oil and gas companies have enrolled more than 2 million acres across all five states. And, two wind energy developments and one natural gas pipeline company have signed on, with more in the process of enrollment.
Last Friday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it had signed a Range-wide Oil and Gas Industry Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) with the western association, under the range-wide plan developed by WAFWA and state wildlife agencies in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The service also announced an accompanying Environmental Assessment. The service has proposed listing the bird as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, with a final determination expected by March 31.
“Under the range-wide plan, a broad coalition of government, industry, agriculture and conservation interests is demonstrating unprecedented collaboration, showing we can take care of this bird and its prairie habitat without needing to list it,” said Bill Van Pelt, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) grassland coordinator.
“When you consider all acreage enrolled in the range-wide plan, plus various CCAAs, Farm Bill programs, and other conservation programs across the lesser prairie-chicken’s range, the total area is about the size of the states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. This is also approximately half the size of the species’ current range. We believe this sets a record for conservation delivery on predominantly private land for a species under listing consideration.”
The range-wide CCAA provides another option for oil and gas companies, which can also enroll directly in the range-wide plan. CCAAs are prelisting conservation tools, where enrollment must occur prior to a listing decision. Unlike the CCAA, enrollment under the range-wide plan can occur at any time before or after the listing decision.
Enrolling companies get regulatory assurances through a special USFWS rule or a CCAA permit, so that if the species is listed the companies have a pathway to continue operations and development in the region. The companies agree to pay modest enrollment fees, follow a list of guidelines to minimize impacts on the bird, and agree to pay for impacts they cannot avoid. The money goes to farmers, ranchers and landowners to protect and restore habitat for the bird. 
Complementing the range-wide plan, landowner CCAAs offer legal assurances for farmers and ranchers in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. These cover a total of nearly 2.3 million acres across the three states. Landowners in Colorado and Kansas, who do not have access to a ranching CCAA, can enroll their lands under the RWP and receive the same assurances.
The range-wide plan includes habitat management goals and conservation practices to be applied throughout the lesser prairie-chicken’s range, guided by the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT) online database and mapping system.
The range-wide plan can be viewed on the WAFWA website. Industry representatives with questions about the plan may contact Sean Kyle, chairman of the Lesser Prairie Chicken Interstate Working Group, at sean.kyle@wafwa.org. Farmers, ranchers, and landowners may contact their local state fish and wildlife agency biologist to answer questions about enrollment in the plan.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION GRANT APPLICATIONS DUE APRIL 30

עמק הצבאים

Federal grant program helps fund local outdoor recreation projects
PRATT – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is accepting applications for Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grants through April 30, 2014. The federally funded program provides 50 percent reimbursement to selected outdoor recreation projects sponsored by cities, counties, and other appropriate public agencies. Since 1965, Kansas has received more than $50 million in LWCF funds to complete approximately 650 projects in nearly every county.
Grant application materials can be found on the KDWPT website, www.ksoutdoors.com, by clicking “State Parks” then “Grants.” Eligible projects include development and/or acquisition of outdoor facilities for the purpose of public recreation. Applications should provide clear evidence of public input and address recreation needs identified in the 2009 Kansas Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), which may be downloaded at ksoutdoors.com.
For more information about project eligibility or application requirements, contact Kyle Jackson, KDWPT LWCF grant coordinator at (620) 672-0740.