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Monthly Archives: September 2017

Easement to protect Lesser Prairie-chickens in shortgrass prairie

 

From Outdoor News Daily

 

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has finalized permanent conservation agreements with three private landowners to conserve 3,682 acres of high-quality Lesser Prairie-chicken habitat in northwest Kansas.

 

“These are the first easements obtained by WAFWA in the shortgrass ecoregion, as called for by the Lesser Prairie-chicken Rangewide Conservation Plan,” said Brad Odle, WAFWA’s regional wildlife biologist, who worked closely with the landowners to secure the easements.

 

“We applaud these visionary landowners who are protecting and conserving the landscape as working ranches, ensuring they will be enjoyed by future generations. These easements will protect habitat that benefits a whole host of wildlife species, including the Lesser Prairie-chicken. This is another positive step toward establishing a stronghold for lesser Prairie-chickens in this area,” Odle added.

 

The complex of properties is located near Smoky Valley Ranch in Logan County, which is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. The 17,290-acre ranch is identified in the rangewide plan as a potential target, around which a stronghold for Lesser Prairie-chickens could be established. A stronghold is defined as a block of fairly contiguous grassland consisting of at least 25,000 acres that contains at least six active lek sites, which are mating areas for the birds. There must also be assurances that all the properties contributing to a stronghold will be protected from future development and managed in a way that is beneficial to Lesser Prairie-chickens into the future. With additional easements like the ones just finalized, Smoky Valley Ranch and nearby permanently conserved properties could become a stronghold for the species.

 

The permanent conservation easements on the private properties were purchased by WAFWA and will be held and monitored by The Nature Conservancy. The easements restrict future development and activities that would be detrimental to the bird’s habitat. All other property rights associated with the land will be retained by the private landowners. WAFWA has also established an endowment that will provide the landowners with sufficient annual payments to implement a Lesser Prairie-chicken conservation plan in perpetuity. The primary conservation practice that will be implemented is prescribed grazing, which will be used to maintain sufficient vegetative structure for every phase of the Lesser Prairie-chicken life cycle. This transaction not only permanently protects key prairie habitat, but also ensures that the properties will remain a working ranch.

 

“There’s no better approach to long-term conservation than a mutually beneficial partnership,” said Matt Bain, western Kansas conservation program manager for The Nature Conservancy. “It’s been an honor for us to be a part of this and help these landowners achieve their long-term visions for their ranches.”

 

The rangewide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA; the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and many non-government conservation organizations. It was developed to conserve the Lesser Prairie-chicken by providing another voluntary conservation program for landowner and industry cooperation and improving coordination between state and federal conservation agencies.

 

Funding for WAFWA’s conservation efforts comes from voluntary mitigation payments by industry partners that are enrolled in the plan. The plan provides certainty to participants that they will be able to continue operations without interruption, and when fully implemented produces a net conservation benefit to the Lesser Prairie-chicken.

 

Contact Roger Wolfe at (785) 256-3737 for more information. The Lesser Prairie-chicken Rangewide Conservation Plan can be found at www.wafwa.org.

Secretary Zinke declares October National Hunting and Fishing Month

 

From The Outdoor Wire

 

Just days before National Hunting and Fishing Day – which is held on the fourth Saturday of September every year – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke declared October will officially be recognized as National Hunting and Fishing Month at the Department. Zinke championed the order to recognize the lasting and positive impact of hunters and anglers on wildlife and habitat conservation in America. This order comes on the heels of several major sportsmen actions from Interior including the announcement September 20 of the addition of 600 acres of land in Arizona’s Santa Teresa Mountains to make Wilderness Areas accessible for hunting and fishing.

 

“I grew up in northwest Montana surrounded by public lands and waters. Some of my best memories are hunting and fishing with my dad and granddad, and then later teaching my own kids to hunt and fish. That’s something I want more families to experience, which is exactly why increasing access to public lands is so important,” said Secretary Ryan Zinke. “Hunters and anglers are the backbone of wildlife and habitat conservation in America, and they contribute billions of dollars to conservation. From my perspective, the more sportsmen we have in the woods and waters, the better our wildlife and land will be. Formally recognizing the contributions of hunters and anglers to wildlife and habitat conservation is long overdue.”

 

“Hunters, anglers, and target shooters are the best conservationists who contribute so much through the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts,” said Richard Childress, second Vice President of the National Rifle Association, NASCAR driver, and honorary chair of Hunting and Fishing Day. “Last year, they contributed $1.2 billion toward conservation and protecting our natural resources. We need more mentors taking young people out and teaching them to hunt and fish, so I’m glad Secretary Zinke is promoting hunting and fishing at the federal level.” The declaration was signed at the grand opening of the Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri September 20. Event speakers included former Presidents George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

 

President George H. W. Bush sent a video message with a virtual ribbon cutting. Earlier in the day Secretary Zinke scuba dove in the shark-filled aquarium and conducted a question and answer session with a fifth grade class of young conservationists.

 

Hunters and anglers contribute billions of dollars to conservation through initiatives like the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $25 and raises nearly $40 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System. Excise taxes on firearms, ammo and tackle also generate more than a billion dollars per year through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts.

 

This September and October, the Department of the Interior is setting its sights on the continued role that hunters and anglers play in wildlife conservation.

 

Earlier this month, Secretary Zinke signed a directive to support and expand hunting and fishing, enhance conservation stewardship, improve wildlife management, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans. The order expanded hunting, fishing and shooting on public lands and sought innovative solutions to open private land. It also focused on wildlife and habitat conservation and restoration as well as better collaboration with states, tribes and territorial governments. The move was widely praised by sportsmen and wildlife conservation organizations.

 

In August, the Secretary announced a proposal to expand hunting and fishing opportunities at 10 National Wildlife Refuges, and he announced the initial stages of a plan to acquire land to make the Bureau of Land Management Sabinoso Wilderness Area accessible for the first time ever to hunters, hikers, and wildlife watchers.

 

On his first day in office, Secretary Zinke reversed an order that would have banned lead ammo and tackle on National Wildlife Refuge lands, and he began the process of expanding hunting and fishing opportunities on public lands across the Department.

 

“It’s imperative that we have people like Secretary Zinke speaking about and promoting hunting and fishing. It’s not only our heritage, it’s also the key to true conservation,” said Craig Morgan, a country music performer who performed at the event. “It is refreshing that Secretary Zinke understands the value of hunting and fishing to American conservation,” said Major David Eaton, who spoke at the event. “The more public game lands become available to Americans, the better off our country will be.”

In addition, Secretary Zinke recently made recommendations to President Trump on 27 national monuments, calling for changes to some that, while still protecting the land, would also protect and expand public access to that land for citizens who want to hunt, fish, hike, and experience the joy and beauty of those public lands.

 

Editor’s note: Unfortunately many of the recommendations by Secretary Zinke call for reducing the size of some monuments while opening other monuments to oil, gas and coal exploitation, negatively impacting the habitat available to wildlife and hunters on these public lands.

Sign your kids up for Southwest Kansas Youth Day

 

A flurry of fun activity will be had at the upcoming 2017 Southwest Kansas Youth Day at Historic Lake Scott State Park in Scott City and youth ages 16 and younger are invited to attend. During the Oct. 1 event, taking place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., youth can enjoy a snake presentation, shotgun and BB gun shooting, and a 3D archery shoot.

 

Lunch will be provided, and registered participants will get a free event t-shirt.

 

A variety of prizes will be given away at the event, including mentored hunts, shotguns and pellet guns for youth ages 9-16, and a separate set of prizes for youth 9 and younger.

 

For more information and to register for this event, contact Manuel Torres at (620) 966-8570 or by e-mail at manuel.torres@ks.gov.

Kansas State Parks Director elected to national post

 

Linda Lanterman, director of the Parks Division for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), was elected president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) at their annual meeting held September 5-8 in Missoula, Montana. Lanterman has worked for KDWPT for 25 years and has been Parks Division director since 2010.

 

Lanterman oversees a staff of 120, 26 Kansas state parks and an annual budget of $12 million. She began her service with the department in the Human Resources Section, then served as the assistant chief of the Licensing section and assistant director of the Parks Division. She graduated from Wichita State University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Administration degree in Accounting. The Kansas Recreation and Park Association named her a distinguished fellow in January 2015.

 

“I feel honored to be chosen President of NASPD,” Lanterman said. “America’s state parks are part of the fabric of our nation’s quality of life. Close to home, state parks in every state offer outdoor opportunities that provide lasting memories for our visitors to share with subsequent generations. America’s state parks are staffed with passionate and competent employees who work tirelessly to help create those memories. We want to support our staff and give them the tools to execute their jobs in the most efficient and passionate way.”

 

“Linda brings a diversity of state park experiences, from daily operations and grants administration to innovative budgeting strategies that help make state parks more fiscally sustainable,” said Lewis Ledford, NASPD executive director. “Her energy and resourcefulness will serve America’s state parks well in continuing to forge public and private partnerships and secure corporate support.”

 

About NASPD

 

The NASPD helps state parks effectively manage and administer their systems. Its mission is to promote and advance the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health, and economy.

Duck hunters invited to free breakfast in Great Bend

 

Duck hunters and friends hitting the marsh on Oct. 7 are invited to stop by the Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) – located at the southeast corner of Cheyenne Bottoms along K-156 Highway – from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. for a free Hunter Appreciation Breakfast. Biscuits and gravy, coffee, and juice will be served. New this year will be a free dog retrieving demo with a hunt test training scenario for dog owners to try with their dog.

 

After filling up on a warm breakfast, hunters can explore Cheyenne Bottoms’ history through exhibits and displays at the education center, peruse through items in the Cheyenne Bottoms Ducks Unlimited Chapter raffle and silent auction, practice their marksmanship with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Laser Shot game, as well as share hunting stories with fellow hunters and KDWPT staff.

 

“Hunters and hunting is such an important part of the past, present, and future of Cheyenne Bottoms,” stated Curtis Wolf, KWEC director. “It is an honor to celebrate this tradition.”

 

The free breakfast is sponsored by the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau, and organized by the KWEC, KDWPT, and Ducks Unlimited.

 

For more information about the breakfast, call the KWEC at (877) 243-9268.

Relive history at 15th annual Fall River Rendezvous

 

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

 

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

 

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

National Hunting and Fishing Day pledge

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Go to: https://content.basspro.com/content/sweepstakes/index.cfm?sweepsName=2017NHFDaySweeps&mode=insertApp. Take the pledge and enter for a chance to win amazing grand prizes from Richard Childress Racing, Big Cedar Lodge, and Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

How a good idea became a great tradition

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

About CSF

 

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

 

About NWF

 

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

What happened to the tiny Key deer during Hurricane Irma?

 

By David Goodhue

Miami Herald

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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