Category Archives: Outdoors

NWS issues red flag warning: All burn permits suspended in Osage County

All outdoor burning is prohibited in Osage County today, Dec. 11, 2017, after the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for most of northeast and north central Kansas due to low humidity and expected gusty winds. Osage County Emergency Management suspended all local burn permits as the NWS issued the red flag warning that covers Osage, Clay, Riley, Pottawatomie, Jackson, Ottawa, Dickinson, Geary, Morris, Wabaunsee, Shawnee, Lyon and Coffey counties.

The red flag warning is in effect 10 a.m.-6 p.m., while the local burn ban will be in effect until 8 a.m. tomorrow unless extended.

NWS has forecast that it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 57. Winds will shift to the northwest and strengthen by the early afternoon, with sustained speeds expected to be between 20 and 25 mph and gusts near 40 mph through the afternoon. Relative humidity will drop to between 20 and 25 percent just ahead of the wind shift during the late morning, but should gradually rise through the afternoon behind the wind shift.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will soon. The combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior. Fires could start quickly, spread furiously and burn intensely. All fires are potentially serious.

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

No outside burning allowed Sunday in Osage County

All Osage County burn permits have been suspended for today, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, per Osage County Emergency Management. The agency has declared this as a “no burn day”, during which no outside burning is allowed.

The National Weather Service has predicted a sunny day, with a high near 59 and northwest wind 10 to 15 mph with gusts as high as 20 mph, causing very high fire danger. Very high fire danger means fire control will be very difficult and require extended effort.

The burn ban will expire at 8 a.m. Dec. 11, 2017, unless extended.

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

Cold water safety and hunter safety go hand-in-hand

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With cooler weather upon us, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District emphasizes safety while enjoying seasonal recreation opportunities.

“Fall and winter months provide additional opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy our lakes,” said Zach Wallace, park ranger at Pomme de Terre Lake, near Hermitage, Mo. “It’s important to remember the dangers associated with colder seasons like hypothermia and hunting related activities. Accidents can happen and it’s vital all visitors take the appropriate steps to ensure a safe experience.”

Low water temperatures pose risks such as hypothermia. The human body cools 25 times faster in cold water than it does in air.

“You should expect the unexpected, dress for the weather and always wear a life jacket in or around water,” Wallace said.

With thousands of acres of public hunting land at 18 lakes throughout Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, the Corps also encourages hunters to take precautions this winter.

“Public hunting can present a challenge,” said Wallace. “There is a chance others are hunting in the same location and could be camouflaged in a tree stand, blind or behind brush. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and follow state and federal rules.”

The Corps urges outdoor enthusiasts to consider these additional tips.

Osage City plants seeds of love for trees

Girl scouts proudly show off the tree they just helped to plant.

The Osage City Tree Board celebrated Arbor Day with local scouts. On Oct. 17, 2017, Osage City Cub Scout Pack 106 planted a Sienna Glen Maple provided by the tree board. Jason Hodge demonstrated the correct way to plant a tree and care for it. The scouts finished the job by filling in the hole and adding bark and water.

On Oct. 19, board member Bob Plinsky demonstrated the correct way to plant a tree to Osage City Girl Scout Troop 30149. The scouts finished by watering Sienna Glen Maple.

Each scout received information on tree care and planting along with a red bud seedling from the board.

Vassar celebrates fall’s arrival with cool day of fun festivities

Vassar’s annual FunFest features cars on display with the historical one-room schoolhouse as their backdrop.

Despite chilly weather, Vassar schoolhouse was the place to be to have fun Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, with a costume parade and contest, car show, pie contest, and other activities. The historical one-room schoolhouse, which now serves as Vassar’s community center, and its surrounding park were the center of the day’s activities during the annual fall event.

KDWPT schedules free shotgun and archery training for young sportsmen

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. – Area youth are invited to attend a free shotgun and archery shooting and safety clinic on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Council Grove Lake. This special one-day event will provide participants with an opportunity to enhance firearm and archery shooting and safety skills. Controlled live-fire instruction will teach safe, responsible, and fun shooting techniques. Sponsors include the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Flint Hills Chapter of Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, the Chisholm Trail Chapter of Safari Club International, the Bill Young Foundation, and Morris County Hunter Education instructors.

Shooting skills will be taught by certified firearm, archery, and hunter education instructors. All gear and supplies, including shotguns, shells, bows, arrows, targets, and eye and ear protection will be provided by KDWPT’s “Pass It On” hunter education and Archery in the Schools programs. Participants need only a desire to learn some valuable and safe techniques and have fun. Teaching methods almost guarantee that students will be breaking clay targets by the end of the session.

Caution on the road: Deer-vehicle crashes increase in fall

Mating season and the quest for more secure habitat have deer on the move this time of year, increasing the chances of vehicle collisions.

Typically, the greatest number of deer-vehicle crashes are in mid-November when the rut, or mating season, peaks. In addition to the rut, deer are also on the move in mid-fall seeking new food sources and shelter as crops are harvested and leaves fall from trees and shrubs, leaving them less secure than in their summer habitats.

“The deer population has stabilized over the last five years, so areas that have had deer likely still have them,” said Levi Jaster, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism big game coordinator. “Young animals are dispersing to find new areas and breeding season is approaching. More animals moving means more of them are going to be crossing roads, so be extra cautious and reduce speed, especially in areas with good deer habitat.”

Runners, bikers to ‘Rush the Rails’ Saturday

FLINT HILLS NATURE TRAIL, Kan. – Where locomotives once chugged across the eastern-Kansas prairie, hikers, joggers and bicyclists can trek the same route today along the currently completed 95 miles of the Flint Hills Nature Trail. On Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, the first Rush the Rails event will fill the trail with riders and bikers, with a planned relay race, bike rides and festivities along the completed portions of trail.

Starting at Osawatomie in the east to Council Grove in the west, four and eight-person relay teams will set out at 7:30 a.m. from John Brown Park, in Osawatomie, and run the entire 96-mile route (a short detour adds an extra mile to the 95-mile trail). Bikers can choose from three distances: the full 96 miles starting at Osawatomie (7 a.m.), 54 miles from Pomona State Park (8:30 a.m.), or 25 from Admire (10:30 a.m.), with all running and cycling events ending in Council Grove.

Back in Time: Whirlwind of land acquisition floods Marais des Cygnes Valley

Shown in a June 1975 photo of Melvern Lake, its then-new 12-story control tower is already a landmark on the water.

About 1972, Corps of Engineers attorneys obtained easement for the Melvern Reservoir in Osage County, Kan. The details involved in acquiring an easement for land to be flooded by the Melvern Reservoir in Osage County, Kan., is explained by a Corps of Engineers attorney, Ben Bonner, left, to sellers of the easement, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Evertson, of Topeka, Kan. The easement permitted flooding of 180 acres of the 350-acre tract owned by the couple. Exemplifying the speed of the process, the Evertsons received their check 10 days after signing the agreement.

Annual awards recognize protectors of land, water and wildlife

Nominees from Osage County are being sought for the annual conservation awards program, sponsored by the Kansas Bankers Association. The program recognizes stewards of land and natural resources in Kansas, with more than 200 of the state’s producers and landowners honored statewide each year. This year’s Osage County sponsor is Lyndon State Bank, Lyndon, Kan.

Honorees are named in six award categories: energy conservation, water quality, water conservation, soil conservation, windbreaks and wildlife habitat. Nominations for the awards can be made by any person in the county.

Nomination forms are available at the Osage County Conservation District Office, 115 W. 17th St., Frontier Extension District, 128 W. 15th St., or the Lyndon State Bank, 817 Topeka Ave., all in Lyndon, or call the Extension office at 785-828-4438 for a nomination form to be mailed to you. Nomination forms should be completed and returned to the Frontier Extension District, PO Box 400, Lyndon, KS 66451, by Oct. 16, 2017.

A committee chaired by Rod Schaub, Frontier District Extension agent, will select this year’s winners from the nominations received by the deadline. Winners will be recognized at the Osage County Conservation District’s annual meeting next year.

Overbrook City Lake no longer under algae warning; enjoy fall at local lakes

Summer might be over, but with fair weather, Overbrook City Lake and Friesen Fishing Lake continue to offer residents and visitors peaceful spots for reflection, walking or fishing. Benches installed in 2015 have been placed on the fishing dock, with one honoring the late Max Friesen for his many years of service. Photo thanks to city of Overbrook.

The city of Overbrook was notified that results of testing for blue-green algae from the week of Sept. 11, 2017, has allowed the Overbrook City Lake to be downgraded from warning to watch status by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The lake was put under warning for blue green algae the week of Sept. 1. The lake was not closed, but officials recommended avoiding contact with the water, and rinsing any fish caught with clean water.

Despite the lake’s former-warning status, the city’s lakes were still open for fishing and other activities. According to Overbrook City Clerk Jim Koger, 100 children participated in the Steve Cross Memorial Children’s Fishing Derby Saturday at the Children’s Fishing Pond, at Jones Park. He noted that due to great support from the community and national sponsors, each of the children were given a new fishing rod and reel.

Two other lakes in Osage County remain under warning for blue-green algae, Melvern Outlet River Pond and Melvern Outlet Swim Pond.

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.

Man without a mission strolls through America’s hospitality

Larry and Debi Chrum offered Osage City hospitality and a home away from home to continental walker CJ Richards, right.

OSAGE CITY, Kan. – When CJ Richards started walking from his home in Derry, N.H., on May 7, he thought his trek would introduce him to America’s sights. Instead, as he realized not far from home, he had set out to meet America’s people.

Now, more than halfway through his 3,000-plus-mile trip to the California coast, Richards says his connection with people along the way is what has kept him walking.

“I’ve learned people are out to help you, not out to get you,” Richards said last week, sitting at the kitchen table in Debi and Larry Chrum’s home in Osage City.

His connection to the Chrums was just one example of him meeting people along the way who have offered hospitality to a traveling stranger.

Richards readily admits his decision to walk across the United States was for his own pursuit of happiness. He’s not walking for a cause or representing a charity.

He said he has enjoyed hiking since he was young, when he and a friend started hiking together while in Boy Scouts. And living in New Hampshire, the Appalachian Trail was practically in his back yard.

He had thought about taking a long hike before, such as the entire Appalachian Trail, but had also considered a cross-country trip.

Now 25 years old, he said he began thinking that he wasn’t getting younger, and there might not be another time when he was as unencumbered by life’s responsibilities.

“I started looking at my brothers, how they are involved with their families and jobs,” Richards said, “and thought now was my chance. I thought, ‘I’ve got to get going and do this now.’”

Overbrook City Lake joins others in Kansas under warning for blue-green algae

Overbrook City Lake has now joined others across the state to be under warning for blue-green algae blooms.

According to the city of Overbrook, Kansas Department of Health and Environment re-tested this week due to the heavy rain on the scheduled date of test last week.  As a result of the testing, Overbrook City Lake is now in warning status for a blue-green algae bloom.

Two other lakes in Osage County, Melvern Lake Outlet River Pond and Melvern Lake Outlet Swim Pond also remain under a warning for blue-green algae, as they have been for several weeks.

Thursday, KDHE and the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism issued a public health warning for 10 lakes across the state and a watch for three lakes due to harmful algae blooms.

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.

On the path of totality, Osage County trekkers bask in moon’s shadow

Eclipse watchers at Benedictine College stadium look to the sky to try to see the eclipse through cloud cover.

While cloudy weather caused the solar eclipse to be elusive for people in Kansas, a busload of Osage Countians had fun traveling to Atchison, Kan., to try to view it from the moon’s shadow’s path.

As a special trip offered by Osage County General Transportation, the group of 10 riders and driver John Camarena headed out of Osage City early Aug. 21, 2017, to head to Benedictine College at Atchison.

Erin Auman and Sterling Hughs, owners of Eclipse Computer Solutions, Osage City, had proposed the trip to the county transportation service, in part because of the fun connection to the name of their business. Auman checked for places to view the eclipse from its path of totality, and found that Benedictine College was inviting people to the college’s stadium for the eclipse.

“It was all free,” she said of the college’s eclipse event. “They gave us free viewing glasses and everything.”

According to Auman, the trip was fun but the eclipse crew did not get to see the total eclipse because of cloud cover and light rain. She said that traffic was not heavy on the way to Atchison, but the bus got stuck in the predicted traffic jams for a while as they headed back to Osage City.

“That’s one reason I was glad we took the bus,” Auman said. “We didn’t have to worry about the traffic – only our driver did.”

Traveling on the trip were Bill and Peggy Rezac, Kathi Webster, Tara and Dave Azwell, Cindy Grissom, Shirley Ormsby, and Nancy Hinkle, Auman, Hughs, and Camarena.

Yesteryear’s campers fill sites in Pomona State Park during annual ‘going retro’ event

A 1958 Silver Streak Clipper owned by Roger and Debbie Bowles is completely original and everything works. The Clipper won the best original trailer award.

Visitors enjoying Pomona State Park on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, might have thought they had stepped back in time if they didn’t know the fourth annual Going Retro Car, Vintage Trailer and Antique Boat Show was going on.

With Pomona State Park “going retro” there were 79 cars, four boats, and 42 camping trailers on exhibit, including16 first-time trailer exhibitors. Friends of Pomona State Park were hosts of the event, which drew an estimated crowd of around 1,000 people.

Friday events were an afternoon owner’s tour of trailers, social gathering and a movie. Saturday evening there was a potluck among the trailer owners; then everyone in the park was invited for karaoke and a sock hop. Campground church was attended by several on Sunday.

The Going Retro events are sponsored by the Friends of Pomona State Park and Pomona State Park.

Awards presented:

Local artists compete for pizza in Melvern Lake water safety poster contest

Winning posters artists who received their prizes on Aug. 12 were, front from left, Charlie DeMaranville, Faye Carpenter, Zoe Carpenter, Lauryn Raymie; second row, Ethan Kneisler, Allie Kneisler, Emma Bailey, Grace DeMaranville, Rylee Moon; back, Melvern Lake Park Ranger Julie Heslop, Zach Oswald, and Alysa Miller.

Local artistically talented kids will soon be enjoying pizza after demonstrating their knowledge of water safety in the 2017 US Army Corps of Engineers Melvern Lake Water Safety Poster Contest

USACE Park Ranger Julie Heslop organized the water safety poster contest for youth in the Melvern Lake area. There were two age groups, 6-9-year-olds and 10-13-year-olds, and three divisions in each age group. The divisions were Wear Your Life Jacket, Swim With A Buddy, and an Open Division (What Does Water Safety Mean To You?).

Buzzard’s Pizza, Lyndon, donated a large one-topping pizza for the first prize in each division, and Casey’s General Store donated certificates for a large one-topping pizza for the second and third prize for each division. Ribbons in the form of bookmarks, with the Seven Sins of Swimming on one side and contest placement on the other, were given to the top three youth of each division. A brief demonstration on water safety was given before prizes were handed out on Aug. 12, 2017, at the Melvern Lake USACE information center.

There were 38 posters turned in for the contest, and after review by Ranger Julie Heslop and Melvern Lake park attendants the placings were as follows:

Wear Your Life Jacket (ages 6-9): Third place, Rylee Moon; second place, Charlie DeMaranville; first place, Natalee Whitmore.

Swim With A Buddy (ages 6-9): Third place, Zoe Carpenter; second place, Shyanne Allen; first place, Allie Kneisler.

Open division (ages 6-9): Third place, Faye Carpenter; second place, Grace DeMaranville; first place, Lauryn Raymie.

Wear Your Life Jacket (ages 10-13): Third place, Kylie Burkdoll; second place, Sydnie Everhart; first place, Alysa Miller.

Swim With A Buddy (ages 10-13): Third place, Maddie Renfro; second place, Ashton Ehrhardt; first place, Emma Bailey.

Open division (ages 10-13): second place, Zach Oswald; first place, Ethan Kneisler.

Blue-green algae warning continues: Melvern Outlet River Pond, Melvern Outlet Swim Pond

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 six lakes, including two ponds at Melvern Lake, and a watch for six lakes due to harmful algal blooms. Overbrook City Lake is one of the lakes that remain under watch for blue-green algae.

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 (i.e., wading, skiing and swimming) is strongly discouraged for people, pets and livestock. The lakes currently under a watch or warning status are:

  • Warning: Melvern Outlet River Pond, Osage County
  • Warning: Melvern Outlet Swim Pond, Osage County
  • Warning: Central Park Lake, Shawnee County
  • Warning: Marion County Lake, Marion County
  • Warning: Milford Reservoir (Zones B and C), Geary, Dickinson and Clay counties
  • Warning: Webster Lake, Rooks County
  • Watch: Milford Reservoir (Zone A), Geary, Dickinson and Clay counties
  • Watch: Overbrook City Lake, Osage County
  • Watch: Perry Lake (Zone C), Jefferson County
  • Watch: Sam’s Pond, Syracuse, Hamilton County
  • Watch: South Lake, Johnson County
  • Watch: Villa High Lake, Thomas 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.

‘Go retro’ Saturday at Pomona State Park

Campers enjoy a special kind of relaxation that could only be had yesteryear.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like in “the old days” to go camping and enjoy time at the lake, this weekend is your chance to experience it. Pomona State Park is “going retro” Saturday Aug. 19, 2017, for the fourth annual Going Retro Car, Vintage Trailer and Antique Boat Show.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, vintage camping trailers will be open for touring. Many vintage campers will be new to the show this year. The trailers are original or restored to original, renovated or converted to “glampers”. For the first time, Going Retro will feature antique boats, along with many cars and trucks.

Melvern Lake open for business despite blue-green algae warning at outlet ponds

Melvern Lake’s Coeur d’Alene swim beach awaits beach lovers even though the lake’s outlet ponds are under algae warning.

A blue-green algae warning continues for two popular ponds adjacent to Melvern Lake. A warning covering Melvern Outlet River Pond and Melvern Outlet Swim Pond was issued last week, along with an announcement of the closure of Outlet Swim Beach.

The presence of blue-green algae was confirmed in the ponds, with the warning based on cyanobacteria/toxin results from Aug. 3 and 8, 2017, testing conducted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

With the swim beach closed, those looking to swim are encouraged to go to Coeur d’Alene swim beach.

The Melvern outlet ponds are among five lakes in the state under warning for blue-green algae, including Central Park Lake, Shawnee County, Marion County Lake, Marion County, and 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.

Another Osage County lake, Overbrook City Lake, remains under a blue-green algae watch. Also under watches are Milford Reservoir in all zones in Geary, Dickinson and Clay counties; Sam’s Pond, Syracuse, Hamilton County; South Lake, Johnson County and Villa High Lake, Thomas County.

Corps closes swimming beach and issues public health warning for Melvern Lake Outlet Ponds

MELVERN, Kan. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today the existence of a blue-green algae bloom at the Outlet Campground River Pond and Outlet Swim Beach/Fish Rearing Pond downstream of Melvern Lake, in Osage County, Kan.

These ponds are currently under a warning based on cyanobacteria and toxin results from Aug. 3, 2017, testing conducted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. As a result, the swim beach at Outlet Swim Beach/Fish Rearing Pond is closed until further notice.  All other facilities in Outlet Park and Melvern Lake remain open.

The present algae bloom is isolated to the Outlet Campground River Pond and Outlet Swim Beach/Fish Rearing Pond below Melvern Lake Dam. Lake visitors can still use the Coeur d’ Alene swim beach on the main lake. Boat ramps and main lake activities are not affected. Marinas, lakeside businesses and park camping facilities are open for business. Drinking water and showers at parks are safe and not affected by algae blooms.

Hot and sunny weather conditions combined with high nutrient levels create ideal conditions for harmful algae bloom growth. Blue-green algae blooms are unpredictable. They can develop rapidly and may float or drift around the lake, requiring visitors to exercise their best judgment. If there is scum, a paint-like surface or the water is bright green, avoid all water contact and keep pets away.

Kansas Forest Service to host emerald ash borer workshops in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. – Properly caring for Kansas trees has become an increasingly difficult task for our state’s foresters, city and county staff, tree boards, and other tree care professionals with the invasion of the emerald ash borer in northeast Kansas.

The Kansas Forest Service, Shawnee County Extension, and Shawnee County Parks and Recreation are hosting two free workshops on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, to address the emerald ash borer. The insect, which has been detected in Shawnee and seven other Kansas counties, is a serious threat bringing larger challenges than ever to the state.

The afternoon seminar will be 1-4:30 p.m. in the Preston Hale Room of the Ward Meade Historic Site, in Topeka. It will focus on the identification of the pest, details of the quarantine in place, and the impact to community forests and governmental budgets. An open forum for participant networking will follow the program.

The general public is encouraged to attend the evening session at 6:30 p.m. at the Shawnee County K-State Research and Extension office to learn about the emerald ash borer, how to identify the insect, detect signs of damage, and management options. Homeowners, landowners, and concerned citizens are invited to attend this informational event.

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