Category Archives: Outdoors

Rains pester area farmers trying to bring in the sheaves

Two prodigious and plentiful products of Kansas: wheat and beautiful sunsets. This close-up photo of heads of wheat ready for harvest in Osage County was taken by Paul Schmidt right before the 2016 harvest. Between rains over the last week, area farmers have begun cutting while hoping for a few dry days to finish it off.

Photo by Paul Schmidt.

Lyndon Methodists ‘rev up’ for sixth annual engine-powered show

Old met older as vintage vehicles parked all around the historic Bailey House at Lyndon City Park last Saturday.

By Rebecca Thill

Despite the extreme weather and power outages early Saturday morning, the sixth annual “Get Rev’d Up” Car Show at Lyndon went on without a hitch.

There were close to 100 entries, including cars, motorcycles, steam engines, and 18-wheelers. Twenty awards were given out along with several specialty awards and several memorial awards.

Live music was provided by Mike Cline and the Constance Praise Band, and a DJ. There were also activities, with goody bags provided for all the children that attended. Face painting, tattoos, and Hot Wheels racing were a hit with all the kids.

The church’s preschool served biscuits with sausage gravy and breakfast burritos, the Mothers of Preschoolers had homemade cinnamon rolls for sale, and lunch was served by the United Methodist Church finance team. The United Methodist Women had a variety of 13 flavors of homemade ice cream.

Proceeds from the event support Youth Ministries, MOPS, Lyndon United Methodist Preschool, and the Lyndon United Methodist Women.

Here’s some views of the park jammed with motorized vehicles.

Five Kansas lakes under public health warning due to blue-green algae

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism, has issued a public health warning for five lakes due to a harmful algal bloom.

If a lake is under a public health warning for blue-green algae, activities such as boating and fishing may be safe. However, direct contact with water, such as wading, skiing and swimming, is strongly discouraged for people, pets and livestock. The lakes currently under a watch or warning status are:

  • Warning: Keith Sebelius Reservoir, Norton County
  • Warning: Kirwin Lake, Phillips County
  • Warning: Marion County Lake, Marion County
  • Warning: Marion Reservoir, Marion County
  • Warning: Sam’s Pond, Syracuse, Hamilton County
  • Watch: Webster Lake, Rooks County

Lakes under a warning are not closed. Marinas, lakeside businesses and park camping facilities are open for business. If swim beaches are closed, it will be specifically noted. Drinking water and showers at parks are safe and not affected by algae blooms. Boating and fishing are safe on lakes under a warning, but contact with the water should be avoided. It is safe to eat fish caught during a harmful blue-green algae outbreak, as long as the fish is rinsed with clean water. Only the fillet portion should be consumed, and all other parts should be discarded. Hands should also be washed with clean water after handling fish taken from an affected lake. Zoned lakes may have portions fully open for all recreation even if other portions are under a warning.

Osage County State Fishing Lake among available bathymetric maps for anglers

PRATT – What’s a bathymetric map, you ask? Bathymetry is the study of underwater depth of lake or ocean floors. So, it’s really a topographical map of the lake’s floor, and those maps have traditionally only been available for our larger reservoirs. However, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism fisheries biologists have been working on a project for the past year to build bathymetric maps of many of our smaller lakes. Anglers can use these maps to help locate fishing hotspots.

Lucky for Osage County State Fishing Lake fishermen, a map is now available of that lake, too.

Biologists created bathymetric maps of these smaller lakes for two reasons: they help biologists manage fisheries more efficiently and they help anglers find more fish. These new maps will help anglers identify creek channels, depth changes, and in some cases, habitat cubes placed in the last few years. In other words, a little bit of studying can help anglers navigate new water quickly and efficiently. And maps that show depth and contours of the lake floors can help anglers locate spots that hold fish or are fish highways.

To be successful, anglers rely on using an assortment of tools, including specialized rods and reels, different colors and sizes of lures, the newest electronics, and cell phone apps that give up-to-the-minute weather reports.

A printable version of the Osage County State Fishing Lake map can be downloaded or viewed here, or see the 46 bathymetric maps available for small impoundments across Kansas here:

Emerald ash borer confirmed in Shawnee County

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Agriculture, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer in Shawnee County, Kan.

On June 6, 2017, several emerald ash borer galleries were observed and a live emerald ash borer adult was removed while peeling bark from a tree, after KDA was notified by an arborist. The suspect tree was identified while the arborist was trimming branches for a homeowner in a residential area near Lake Shawnee. KDA sent the specimen to a laboratory with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-APHIS-PPQ) which confirmed KDA’s findings on June 7, 2017.

Emerald ash borer, a pest of ash trees native to Asia, was first discovered in North America near Detroit, Mich., in summer 2002. Since that time, the pest has killed millions of ash trees across the U.S. It was first identified in Kansas in 2012, and has been identified in several counties in northeast Kansas in the last five years. Trees become infested with emerald ash borer when adult beetles lay eggs on the bark, which hatch into larvae that bore tunnels into the tree. emerald ash borer appears to prefer trees under stress, but is capable of killing perfectly healthy trees.

KDA encourages anyone in northeast Kansas to monitor their ash trees for signs of emerald ash borer, and to be vigilant in not transporting any wood or tree materials from ash trees out of your county, including firewood, nursery stock, green lumber, and composted or non-composted chips.

West Nile virus arrives early in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has discovered that four Culex species mosquito pools collected from traps in Reno, Shawnee and Johnson counties are positive for West Nile virus in preliminary testing, and that two birds in Shawnee County have tested positive for West Nile virus. In addition, Kansas is reporting the first case of West Nile virus in 2017 in a person from Barton County. These findings may indicate that West Nile virus transmission could occur much earlier in 2017 than in previous years.

The Culex species are known to transmit West Nile virus, but are not known to transmit Zika virus.

West Nile virus can be spread to people through bites from infected mosquitoes, but it is not contagious from person to person. Symptoms range from a slight headache and low-grade fever to swelling of the brain or brain tissue and in rare cases, death. People who have had West Nile virus before are considered immune.

KDHE has developed West Nile virus risk levels to help guide prevention efforts for both communities and individuals. These risk level reports will be posted weekly at All three regions of Kansas are currently at the high risk level.

KDHE recommends the following precautions to protect against West Nile Virus:

Rustic riot? Pasture pandemonium? Field frenzy? Nope, it’s Cross Country Chaos!

Has springtime seemed a little busy this year? Well, tighten up your suspenders and pull on your muck boots, because it’s about to get plumb chaotic in Osage County on Saturday.

That’s right, total chaos is about to break out again in the countryside southwest of Osage City, Kan., on Saturday, June 10, 2017, as racers, runners, and mud lovers set out on 5k trek through a Kansas pasture to challenge their willpower, drive and physical fitness – and have the time of their lives.

Race time kicks off sometime after registration at 8 a.m., when the pasture trail becomes filled with waves of wet, muddy people climbing walls, scrambling over hay havoc, wallowing in mud mayhem, swimming in lily pads, beam balancing, knotted in a cargo net, and sliding down slimy creek banks. It’s a race if you want it to be, but for most participants it’s an obstacle course of fun and mud that can’t be found in a city.

chaos_250x180_2017In its fifth year, Cross Country Chaos ensues on about a quarter section on the Perry Thompson farm. Thompson, president of the Osage County Community Foundation, said the idea for an obstacle race came together as the foundation searched for funding methods.  Obstacle course races have become popular among those who appreciate these types of disorganized sports, also known as mud runs.

Past races have raised funds for the community foundation in addition to raising awareness of the foundation, which serves the countywide community with a mission to “provide a method of giving that represents the ideas and the interest of people who want to increase the impact of their philanthropy.”

Thompson said all skill levels are invited to compete. Although a timed event, he said the race is about accomplishments and also giving to local charities, the mission of the Osage County Community Foundation. He invites local businesses or clubs to enter as teams in the competition.

Kids, wake up bright and early Saturday, it’s time to go fishing

Two fishermen discuss the best bait to use at the 2015 kids fishing competition at Pomona State Park.

It’s going to be an excellent time for fishing in Osage County this weekend, with free fishing statewide, and Pomona State Park’s annual kids fishing derby on Saturday.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism observes National Fishing and Boating Week, June 3-11, 2017, by letting Kansas anglers fish for free on June 3 and 4. That means that anyone may fish in Kansas without a fishing license.

To participate in the Pomona State Park kids fishing derby, registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, with first lines going in at 8:30 a.m. The Friends of Pomona State Park have also planned a kids’ carnival that will begin at 10 a.m. The event will be at Boat Ramp No. 2.

Kansas lakes and rivers are known for producing big crappie, abundant channel catfish, huge flathead catfish and giant blue catfish. However, thousands of farm ponds that dot the rural landscape are filled with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish. Federal reservoirs are known for producing great walleye, wiper, crappie and white bass fishing.

For more information, contact Pomona State Park at 785-828-4933.

Wildlife officers pull stolen vehicle from Osage State Fishing Lake, discover zebra mussels

When state wildlife officials pulled a decades-old stolen vehicle out of Osage County State Fishing Lake last Thursday, they also made a grim discovery: Zebra mussels.

“We got it out of the water, pulled it onto the shore, and saw obvious zebra mussels on it,” said Captain Dan Melson, of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism law enforcement division, Friday. “It didn’t take long to confirm them.”

With the four mussels found on a late ‘80s Honda Civic that had been reported stolen more than 25 years ago, the discovery confirmed the infestation of the third major lake in Osage County with the invasive nuisance species.

According to Melson, Osage County game warden Lynn Koch discovered the vehicle submerged with its roof about five feet under the water surface last Sunday, April 23, while running sonar in the locally popular fishing lake.

“We have sonar in most of the boats,” Melson said. “We’ve asked game wardens to check locations where cars could be dumped in lakes.”

Melson said Koch located the vehicle on the east side of the lake, off the end of a fishing pier in an area that had been closed off to vehicle traffic about three years ago. He said the vehicle was reported stolen in the early 1990s from Topeka, and it had an expiration date of 1991 on its license tag decal. The windows were all intact and vehicle had little damage except for some items removed, the captain said.

Besides collecting a few zebra mussels and serving as fish habitat, the vehicle had apparently also been a nuisance to many fishermen over the years.

“It had plenty of hooks and sinkers on it,” Melson said.

Discovery of the vehicle left investigators with a cold 25-year-old car theft case with low priority for solving, but Melson said similar efforts in the past have solved missing persons cases.

“We had repeated this same sonar work six summers ago and discovered six vehicles – two had missing persons in them,” he said.

Friday, KDWPT released confirmation of the presence of zebra mussels in Osage State Fishing Lake. KDWPT reported the officers who discovered adult zebra mussels attached to the vehicle reported the find to KDWPT fisheries staff, who verified the discovery.

Corps to begin charging camping fee at Sun Dance Campground in May

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin charging a camping fee of $10 per night at Sun Dance Campground at Melvern Lake at the beginning of the 2017 recreation season. The campground had been the only free campground at Melvern Lake.

The fee will apply May 1 through Sept. 30, and is payable at the self-pay station at the entrance of the campground. Camping fees can be paid by check or cash. Campers are allowed to camp at the same location up to 14 consecutive days, after which campers must vacate the campground for a minimum of 24 hours prior to returning. The Corps reminded visitors that while the fee does not pertain to the winter months of Oct. 1-April 30, the camping time limit remains the same.

To avoid overcrowding sites, a maximum of two camping units is allowed per campsite (two tents, or one tent and one RV), and a maximum of two vehicles are allowed per campsite.

For more information, visit the Melvern Lake information center at the south end of Melvern Dam, or call 785-549-3318.

Osage County 4-H Shooting Sports invites all to fun day of sporting clays

Osage County 4-H Shooting Sports wants you to know if you’ve never tried sporting clays, you are missing out. Shooters are wanted for the club’s fundraiser sporting clays shoot, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Sunday, April 30, 2017, at Locust Point Gun Club, 19939 S. Berryton Rd., Lyndon, Kan.

All shooters are invited to come out and have a great time. Entry fee is $40 per person, and includes 50 targets and a free lunch. Multiple entries are permitted; $35 for re-entry. Team entry is $180 for 4 shooters (cash pool of $20 for the team).

NSCA rules will be in effect. Prizes will be determined by Lewis Class (top score, low score and team scores). Trophies will be presented for highest score adult, ladies and youth. Lots of prizes will be won, with one ticket earned for each broken target.

For more information, contact Locust Point Gun Club at 785-828-3406.

KDHE issues air quality health advisory

Prescribe burning to increase this weekend

TOPEKA, Kan. – Conditions will be ideal for burning in the Flint Hills and surrounding areas during the period of Friday, April 7, 2017 through Sunday, April 9, 2017. Air pollutant levels are expected to be elevated, and may be unhealthy both near and downwind of burn activity.

These burns occur annually to help preserve the tallgrass prairie, control invasive species such as eastern red cedar and sumac, and provide better forage for cattle. Prescribed burning minimizes risk of wildfires and is effective in managing wildland resources. Smoke from the burns can influence the air quality of downwind areas and can be carried long distances.

Prescribed burns release large amounts of particulate matter and substances that can form ozone. Particulate matter and ozone can cause health problems, even in healthy individuals. Common health problems include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing, and illnesses such as bronchitis. Individuals with respiratory issues, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children, and elderly may experience worse symptoms.

Steps to protect your health on days when smoke is present in your community include:

Entries now accepted for 2017 Wild About Kansas photo contest

First place photo in the recreation category of the 2016 Wild About Kansas photo contest was submitted by Chenoa Casebier, Osage City.

PRATT – Don’t let Facebook and Instagram be the only places you share your favorite wildlife, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor photos. Enter them in the 2017 Wild About Kansas photo contest. Hosted by Kansas Wildlife and Parks Magazine staff, the 5th annual contest will kick off March 23 and run through 5 p.m. on Oct 13, 2017. The contest is open to both Kansas residents and nonresidents, and there is no age limit.

Participants can enter up to three photos, given the photos are the participants’ original work and were taken in the state of Kansas. Winning entries will be featured in the 2018 March/April issue of Kansas Wildlife and Parks Magazine. To enter the contest, visit

Hunt for outdoor adventure leads to Flint Hills geocaching competition

By Ron Wilson, Director
Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development

Let’s go hunting. No, not for deer or turkey. Today we are going hunting for a geocache, a hidden container which we can find with the aid of GPS technology. The practice of finding geocaches is not only attracting visitors to Kansas, it is bringing a major gathering of geocachers to our state in spring 2017.

Meet geocaching enthusiast Ryan Semmel. He is a leader of the effort to bring a major geocaching event to Kansas. After serving in the Army overseas and most recently at Fort Riley, he retired in Manhattan. Ryan and his wife have two daughters and a son.

Ryan enjoys geocaching, the practice of finding hidden caches outdoors through the use of GPS technology. The caches are small containers containing a logbook and, in some cases, trinkets for exchange. Someone will hide the cache and then post the location on the website for people to find. When a cache is found, the finder enters his or her user name in the logbook, exchanges gifts if desired, and then posts about it on the website.

Ryan enjoys exploring the outdoors and sharing the experience with others. “It has taken me to places that not everybody gets to see,” he said. He started a Facebook group for Flint Hills Geocaching which has about 200 members.

Then he heard about something called MOGA: Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure.  Essentially, this was an open contest in which geocachers would compete to see how many geocaches could be found within a limited time.

“I like the competitive aspect,” Ryan said. He went to a MOGA event in Jackson, Mo., and heard the organizers say that they like to go to new and different places.  He wondered if MOGA could be brought to Manhattan, Kan. Ryan worked with several partners, got encouragement from Marcia Rozell at the Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau, and ultimately submitted a successful bid for Manhattan to host MOGA in 2017.

Ryan estimates that hundreds of geocachers will come to Manhattan for MOGA April 20-23, 2017.

Hummingbirds will like new list of recommended flowers as much as Kansans

Cuphea Vermillionaire is a hummingbird and pollinator attractor. It’s on the 2017 Prairie Star Flower list of plants that performed well during a two-year trial at Kansas State University.

By Mary Lou Peter, K-State Research and Extension 

OLATHE, Kan. – After years of sometimes-harsh tests, the winners have emerged: Kansas State University has unveiled its latest list of recommended annual flowers, including a sweet treat for hummingbirds and a vine that sports purple foliage with contrasting, bright-pink flowers.

The new Prairie Star Flower list includes plants that have been tested for two consecutive years in Kansas and flourished, even with the state’s sometimes temperamental climate.

“Try Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’ and watch the hummingbirds flock to your patio or garden,” said Robin Ruether, Prairie Star program coordinator based at the K-State Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center. “The tubular orange flowers are a favorite nectar source for the birds and pollinators, plus the plants thrive in hot, humid conditions and need little care besides water and fertilizer.”

Plant breeders from around the world send seeds or rooted cuttings to Ruether as part of the flower trial program overseen by Cheryl Boyer, K-State Extension specialist. After getting an early-spring start in greenhouses, the young plants are transplanted outdoors when the weather warms. They’re evaluated throughout the growing season and ultimately judged on their vigor, flowers and foliage.

Another plant, the Coleus ‘FlameThrower Spiced Curry’ made a strong showing over the last two years, Ruether said. The foliage plant’s chartreuse leaves have an eye-catching reddish color on the undersides that provide a unique visual display when the wind is blowing.

No burn day: High winds, dry conditions make very high fire danger

RED-FLAGDue to very high fire danger today, March 17, 2017, all burn permits for Osage County are suspended. A “no burn” day means no outside burning is allowed in the unincorporated areas of Osage County as declared by Osage County Emergency Management. Very high fire danger means that fire control will be difficult and require extended effort.

Very high fire danger is expected across the area today, especially along and south of Interstate 70. A frontal boundary will push through the area this morning causing winds to shift to the north. Later this morning winds will increase 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 25 mph behind the front. As temperatures warm and dry air filters in, the relative humidity values drop into the 30 to 20 percent range. The most likely area where the low relative humidity and wind speeds will coincide appears to be in and around portions of east central Kansas. The wind speeds will gradually decrease, eventually becoming light by evening.

This county burn ban is in effect until 8 a.m. March 18, 2017, but could be extended depending on weather conditions. For more information, contact Bryce Romine, Osage County Emergency Management director at 785-828-3323.

NWS schedules severe storm safety show at Santa Fe Trail High School

The National Weather Service and Osage County Emergency Management will present a severe weather safety and information session at 7 p.m. March 23, 2017, at Santa Fe Trail High School auditorium.

Every year, NWS Topeka presents severe weather safety and information talks which are open to the general public. Presentations are typically around 90 minutes long, and are given by a NWS meteorologist. The shows focus on severe storm safety, preparedness and awareness. Storm structure and accurate identification of important cloud features associated with supercell and squall line thunderstorms are also touched on.

During the training, NWS shares its contact information with attendees, who are encouraged to call NWS (once it is safe to do so) to pass along critical information about any severe weather experienced. The NWS might also call attendees after severe weather has passed to inquire about possible damage or hail size.

In addition to attending a class, NWS asks attendees to complete online training focused on the basics of convective weather and storm structure. All county spotters and others who are interested in becoming spotters are urged to complete training as an introduction into basic spotting concepts.

For more information, contact Bryce Romine, Osage County EmergencyManagement director at or 785-828-3323, or see Santa Fe Trail High School is at 15701 S. California Road, Carbondale, Kan.

Photo: The tornado that hit Harveyville, Kan., Feb. 28, 2012, killed one person and totally destroyed the Methodist church and many other buildings in the town. Photo by Wayne White.

No burn day: High winds, dry conditions make extreme fire danger

RED-FLAGDue to very high fire danger today, March 6, 2017, all burn permits for Osage County are suspended. A “no burn” day means no outside burning is allowed in the unincorporated areas of Osage County as declared by Osage County Emergency Management. Very high fire danger means fire control will be very difficult and require extended effort.

In addition, the National Weather Service in Topeka has issued a wind advisory, in effect until 8 p.m tonight, with strongest winds predicted to occur through the morning but likely to remain strong into the early evening. South winds around 30 mph with gusts near 45 mph this morning will become more southwesterly and westerly this afternoon, continuing around 30 mph with gusts more than 40 mph.

Driving high profile vehicles will be difficult, and any lightweight objects left outside will be blown around.

The NWS has also issued a fire weather watch that will be in effect Tuesday morning through Tuesday evening. A fire weather watch means that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur, specifically high winds and low relative humidity.

This county burn ban is in effect until 8 a.m. March 7, 2017, but could be extended depending on weather conditions.

For more information, contact Bryce Romine, Osage County Emergency Management director at 785-828-3323.

Planting time’s coming: Frontier Extension offers garden classes at Overbrook

With spring on its way, Shannon Blocker, Frontier Extension District horticulture agent, and Bill Shipp, Extension Master Gardener volunteer, will offer two gardening classes in March at the Overbrook Public Library.

Gardening 101 will be held at 7 p.m. March 2, 2017. Want to plant a garden? Do you know where to start? During this session, Blocker and Shipp will discuss the basics of gardening such as soil preparation, garden layout, planting dates, and harvest techniques. By the end of the night you will know how to set up your garden, what to do before planting, and how to care for your garden throughout the summer.

At 7 p.m. March 30, 2017, the garden experts will talk about gardening problems and solutions. Gardeners will learn about some of the most common problems, how to prevent them, and what to do to treat them when they occur.

For more information, contact Blocker at or 785-448-6826, or the Overbrook Public Library, 317 Maple Ave., Overbrook, 785-665-7266.

No burn day: High winds, dry conditions make extreme fire danger

RED-FLAGDue to extreme fire danger today, Feb. 28, 2017, all burn permits for Osage County are suspended. A “no burn” day means no outside burning is allowed in the unincorporated areas of Osage County as declared by Osage County Emergency Management.

In addition to the county ban, the National Weather Service in Topeka has issued a red flag warning, which is in effect from noon today until 6 p.m.

Extreme fire danger means that fires start quickly, spread furiously and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious. All outdoor burning should be avoided in areas with extreme fire danger.

Today, sustained winds up to 25 mph with gusts of 30 to 40 mph are predicted, with the strongest winds between 1 and 6 p.m. from the southwest. Minimum humidity is expected to range from 18 to 24 percent, with lowest values between 2 and 6 p.m.

The county burn ban is in effect until 8 a.m. March 1. For more information, contact Bryce Romine, Osage County Emergency Management director at 785-828-3323.

See related article: Dry conditions prompt reminder about county burn permit requirement

Dry conditions prompt reminder about county burn permit requirement

With current dry conditions, Osage County Emergency Management is reminding everyone to use extreme caution when conducting any type of outside burning. Anyone conducting a burn is reminded to have sufficient manpower, water, and equipment to control the fire, all of which are the responsibility of the person conducting the burn. Burning pastureland or cropland and other types of open burning in unincorporated areas of Osage County require a burn permit.

“We have had numerous out of control grass fires, burning without a permit, and burning on ‘no burn days,’” said Bryce Romine, Osage County emergency management director.

Burn permits are available at the following locations:

  • City offices at Carbondale, Scranton, Osage City, Overbrook, Melvern, and Burlingame, and Quenemo.
  • Osage County fire districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
  • Osage County offices of the county clerk, land development, sheriff, and emergency management.
  • Frontier Extension District and USDA Service Center, both in Lyndon.

Burn permits are valid for four years from the time of issue. Permit holders must contact the Osage County Sheriff’s Office at 785-828-3121 before starting a burn and after the burn is complete.

More information and burn permit applications can be found at under the Emergency Management tab, or contact Romine at 785-828-3323 or

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas