Saturday, January 31, 2015


USDA launches new regional program, aiding KDWPT in two projects
PRATT ­– Out of more than 600 pre-proposals and 200 full proposals submitted, two Kansas initiatives have been awarded state-level grant funding as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The regional program, which focuses heavily on public-private partnerships, aims to provide private companies, local communities, and other non-government partners a way to invest in efforts relating to land, water, agriculture, construction, tourism, and outdoor recreation. Both the Kansas Pheasant Initiative and the Regional Grassland Bird and Grazing Land Enhancement Initiative, a multi-state effort that also includes Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, will receive funding from RCPP.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT), alongside the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Pheasants Forever, Star Seed Inc., National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, The Kansas Wildlife Federation, and Safari Club International, have developed a program geared at managing habitat for pheasants. This initiative uses a focus-area approach, providing cost-share and incentives for practices that create and maintain pheasant habitat. Because widespread, isolated efforts have proved less effective, the Pheasant Initiative will direct resources into focus areas to promote connectivity of projects and facilitate landscape-level population increases.
The initiative will use several traditional management practices to meet this goal, including the Conservation Reserve Program, but will also incorporate agricultural practices that have the potential to provide habitat.
“It seems that there is a widespread misconception that modern production agriculture and wildlife management are not compatible,” KDWPT small game specialist, Jeff Prendergast said.
“The funds from the RCPP program will give us the opportunity to promote modern production practices that are beneficial to wildlife, while being economically favorable to producers.” 
The two focus areas include portions of Norton County and Mitchell/Osborne counties and both feature public wildlife areas. The RCPP funds will be utilized to implement cover crops and related practices to increase the availability of nesting and brood rearing cover while partners’ funds will be used to incentivize enrollment in other practices with the same goal.
The Regional Grassland Bird and Grazing Land Enhancement Initiative is a five-year project that will aid ranchers in enhancing and protecting the Flint Hills and Smoky Hill native prairies. Opportunities will be offered through key USDA conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). Eligible landowners will be able to utilize practices such as prescribed burning, brush management and prescribed grazing to meet their management objectives. Through ACEP, producers can enter into easements that protect the agricultural use and conservation values of their eligible land.
KDWPT partners involved in the project include the NRCS, The Nature Conservancy of Kansas, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, and the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition. KDWPT’s primary role will be providing technical assistance to landowners interested in participating in the program. 
“The goals of this project are to implement management strategies that promote biodiversity and enhance grassland ecosystem functions, as well as address smoke management issues,” said KDWPT Farm Bill coordinator, Matt Smith. “By focusing additional resources on our native grasslands, it creates a win-win situation for our wildlife and the land stewards who manage these critical landscapes.”
For more information on these Kansas RCPP projects, and others, visit

Friday, January 30, 2015


Two-day event for those interested in enhancing wildlife habitat in Kansas 
WICHITA – Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will host thefifth annual State Convention March 13 and 14 at the Wichita Marriot, 9100 E Corporate Hills Dr. The two-day event will kick off with the “Partners in Conservation Reception” starting at 7:30 p.m., followed by the main event, Saturday, March 14. Convention activities will include discussions from conservation leaders and breakout sessions based on three key topics—habitat, education & outreach, and chapters.
Speakers include Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever President and CEO; Theresa Vail, 2013 Miss Kansas, representative of Bass Pro Shops, and host of “Limitless” on the Outdoor Channel; and Richard McCabe, executive vice president of the Wildlife Management Institute, successful wildlife author, and son of Aldo Leopold’s first graduate student. Additionally, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will report on the status of pheasants and quail in the state.
Afternoon breakout sessions following the morning speakers include a cover crop roundtable with leading agency professionals and farmers, conducting wing-shooting clinics, how to be a successful chapter, and more.
"Through the Kansas State Convention, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever provide wildlife enthusiasts, conservationists, landowners, youth educators, and habitat gurus a chance to get together and share their knowledge and passion for the outdoors,” explained Marc Glades, South Region field manager for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Our chapter leaders, partners, staff, and guests are excited to be guiding this inspiring, information-filled, and interactive weekend that will refresh your wildlife conservation ethic.”
Register between Jan. 27 and Feb. 12 and earn a chance at a $250 Cabela’s gift card. Registration information can be found at Hotel rooms are available at a discounted rate of $99 by calling (316) 651-0333. Offer expires Feb. 27

Thursday, January 29, 2015


A photo of the shallow marshes at Cheyenne Bot...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nick Varvel took the overall high score, recording 302 bird species in 2014
PRATT – The second annual Kansas Birding Big Year came to an end on December 31, 2014. Forty-eight participants signed up for the competition, which is designed to get more folks outdoors and enjoying watching and counting birds. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Secretary, Robin Jennison, was intrigued with hosting such a competition after seeing the popular movie “The Big Year,” depicting avid bird watchers trying to see as many species as they could in a single calendar year. It looked like a fun way to get more people involved in wildlife watching in our state.
The competition was divided into three age categories: youth (17 and under), adult (18-64), and senior (65+).
Results for the 2014 competition are as follows:
Adult:    1st – Nick Varvel, Olathe, 302 species
            2nd – Jeff Calhoun, Dodge City, 291 species
            3rd – Glenn Caspers, Topeka, 286 species
Youth:   1st – Sam Schermerhorn, Wamego, 209 species
            2nd – Christian Becker, Marion, 202 species
            3rd – Joshua Keating, Milford, 103 species
Senior:  1st – John Row, Manhattan, 214 species
            2nd – Judith Collins, Salina, 210 species
            3rd – Dan Larson, Berryton, 209 species
Prizes for the competition were donated from several organizations, including Bass Pro Shop of Olathe, Bushnell Optics of Overland Park, Coleman Company of Wichita and Acorn Naturalists of Tustin, Calif., a supplier of resources for the trail and classroom. The winners of each of the categories will also each receive matted and framed original pencil drawings of native Kansas bird species, drawn and donated by Dr. Robert Penner of Ellinwood. Dr. Penner is the land steward and avian projects coordinator for the Nature Conservancy at Cheyenne Bottoms.
“Anything over 300 species in Kansas is considered a benchmark for a very good year,” said Mike Rader, KDWPT wildlife education coordinator. “Nick’s total is really outstanding.”
Rader added there is still plenty of time to sign up for the 2015 competition. For more information, and click “Services / Wildlife Diversity / 2015 Kansas Birding Big Year.”

Friday, January 23, 2015


Event open to first 250 who register

EMPORIA – The Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will hold the 14th Annual Spring Turkey Hunting Clinic and Internet-Assisted Hunter Education Class on Saturday, March 28. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Dry Creek Sporting Clays, south of Emporia and is open to anyone interested in learning how to become a better turkey hunter.

Participants 17 years old and younger will receive commemorative t-shirts and JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) memberships. Prizes will also be drawn for youth at the end of the clinic. Lunch will be provided. There is no fee to participate; however, preregistration is required.

Participants will go through several education stations covering various aspects of turkey hunting, including:

Turkey biology and management • turkey hunting equipment and safety • turkey calling and locator calling • scouting and roosting • bowhunting for turkeys • shotgun hunting and safety • trap shooting • and target shooting.

An Internet-Assisted Hunter Education Class will also be taught during the clinic; however it will be limited to 24 students.

For more information or to register for the clinic or Internet-Assisted Hunter Education Class, contact Gib Rhodes at (620) 437-2012.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Fifteen minutes or more of bird watching is all participants need to participate

PRATT – In lieu of conducting the Backyard Bird Feeder Survey this year, bird watchers around the state are asked to participate in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) taking place Feb. 13-16. The GBBC is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds. Participants are asked to count numbers and species of birds from any location for as little as 15 minutes on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at  Anyone can take part in the count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and there is no cost to participate.

It’s free, fun and each checklist submitted during the GBBC helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and other bird conservation organizations learn more about population trends and distribution of various songbird species. 
Visit for more information.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Three-day event is perfect place to learn ins and outs of outdoor recreation
PRATT – If you’re intimidated by the thought of picking up a bow, if you’re stumped at what lures to use when fishing, or if you’ve always wanted to kayak down a river, but don’t know how to get started, consider the Becoming An Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshop May 15-17. Conducted at the Rock Springs 4-H Center near Junction City, the workshop will offer participants courses on everything from woodcarving and GPS basics, to rifle marksmanship and fly fishing. Participants get hands-on experience in several areas of their choice, while surrounded by peers with similar interests.
Offered through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, BOW is a non-profit, non-membership program designed for teaching women outdoor skills. The workshop will offer more than 30 different classes thanks to a core of volunteer instructors, including KDWPT employees, law enforcement officials, and even past participants, all of whom are considered to be experts in their field.
Cost for the three-day workshop is $250, which includes lodging, meals and class supplies. Three $100 scholarships are available to first-time participants based on financial need.
To register, visit, click “Services/Education/Becoming an Outdoors Woman,” and download a registration form. Must be 18 or older to attend. Early registration will be open to first-time participants throughApril 3. If spots still remain, past participants may register beginning April 4. Applicants are encouraged to apply early as the spring workshop has limited space and the application period will close May 1.
For questions, call or email Jami McCabe at (785) 845-5052 or
Learn more and view pictures of past workshops at the BOW Facebook page found under “Becoming an Outdoors Woman KANSAS.”