Category Archives: Outdoors

Rains and flooding bog down local state parks and Corps campgrounds

Earlier this week, Corps staff closed the main road just south of the Wolf Creek Park entrance, at Pomona Lake, and asked visitors to not drive around the barricade. USACE photo.

TOPEKA – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has reported that recent frequent heavy rains are impacting some state parks in eastern Kansas. High water levels at area Corps reservoirs have flooded campgrounds, overtopped roads, closed boat ramps and beaches and dampened visitors’ enthusiasm for any outdoor activities.

In Osage County, campgrounds have been impacted at Pomona Lake and Melvern Lake due to high levels of retained water at those lakes. (See related story: Corps plans public meeting on high water conditions at Pomona and Melvern lakes) Recent rains have also affected the trail conditions on the Flint Hills Nature Trail.

Eisenhower State Park at Melvern Lake remains open as of May 22, 2019. The lake is 16.01 feet above conservation level, and outflow is 20 cubic feet per second minimum. The lake is projected to be 18.8 feet above conservation level by May 30. Park staff is shutting down all the electrical connections in Blackjack and Abilene campgrounds. Almost all primitive sites are underwater, and the beach and beach restroom are closed.

Corps of Engineers campgrounds closed at Melvern Lake include:

  • Arrow Rock: Sites 8-10, 12-15, 19 and 35-45 are closed through June 30, 2019; sites 6 and 7 are closed through June 20.
  • Coeur d’Alene: Sites 9-32 are closed through June 30.
  • Turkey Point: Sites 1-8 and 23 are closed through May 30; sites 9-22 are closed through June 30; site 30 is closed through May 28 (closure extension to come); Group Camp closed through June 30. More closures are expected in the Turkey Point Campground to come in the following days. Arrow Rock and Coeur d’Alene closure extensions possible. Should these sites come out from under water and be cleaned up before their closure end date, they will be opened up for reservations.
  • Outlet Park remains unaffected by this flood event.
  • All boat ramps have stopped charging fees and the courtesy docks have been pulled.

At Pomona Lake, Pomona State Park is open. The lake is 23.26 ft above conservation level, and outflow is 15 cfs minimum. The lake is about 9 feet from going over the spillway. The lake is projected to 26 feet above conservation level by May 31. The marina started moving all houseboats off the water as of Wednesday, and also shut down all electrical service to the marina area.

Big Bear Campground is closed. The Kansa shower building is closed. Staff is closing six sites on the marina side of Kansa Campground and all Kansa primitive sites. The park road to east side of the park is closed; the back gate is open on the county road.

Corps campgrounds closed at Pomona Lake include:

  • Wolf Creek Park – All sites remain closed and will be through the weekend. All reservations for Memorial weekend have been cancelled and fully refunded.
  • Michigan Valley Park – Loops A, B, C, D, E, F and G are closed, and will remain closed through the weekend.
  • Adams Grove and Cedar Park remain closed. Coon Creek crossing is still closed and will likely be through the weekend. All Corps boat ramps remain closed.

The Flint Hills Trail remains open with the surface firm in most locations.

Corps plans public meeting on high water conditions at Pomona and Melvern lakes

LYNDON, Kan. – Due to above average water levels being held in Melvern Lake and Pomona Lake, both in Osage County, Kan., the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District and lake project personnel will hold a public meeting 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30, 2019, at Lyndon High School auditorium, 421 E. Sixth St., Lyndon, Kan.

District personnel will present a brief summary of current conditions, a description of how the Corps manages the system, the impacts on recreation and stakeholders, expected releases and overall outlook. Attendees will be invited to ask questions.

Frontier Extension plans June wildflower tour in Anderson County

Spider milkweed flowers.

Have you ever driven down the highway or maybe turned on to a gravel road just to look at the wildflowers that are scattered across a pasture? If you have, you probably wondered what some of those beautiful plants were. The Frontier Extension District will be offering an opportunity to learn about some of those plants during a wildflower and pasture tour at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 20, 2019, in southern Anderson County. Participants should meet at the Welda Community Building, located just west of state Highway 169 in Welda, Kan. From there the group will then convoy to the pastures.

Once at the location, participants will break into small groups, which will be led by a tour guide to tell about some of the wildflowers and answer questions. There is no need to RSVP and there is no cost to attend. Be advised that this tour will be over rough and uneven terrain, so anyone with limited mobility should plan accordingly. Bug repellent is also advised for ticks and chiggers.

Participants will learn about native wildflowers, pasture management, and maybe some about stocking rates.

For more information, contact Ryan Schaub, Frontier Extension District agent, at 785-448-6826.

KDHE waste tire program provides picnic tables, benches for Osage City parks

A convenient bench awaits resting tennis players and walkers, or just provides a place in Jones Park to sit and watch the world go by. Courtesy photo.

The city of Osage City recently learned it is a recipient of a Kansas Department of Health and Environment Waste Tire Grant. The city has used the $2,376 grant to purchase four picnic tables and four benches placed at the Jones Park ball fields, Osage City Aquatic Center, Lincoln Park and Huffman Park to increase public seating.

This is the second time Osage City has received the waste tire grant, in which recipients share 50 percent of the cost. A previous grant in 2015 provided picnic tables, benches and trail benches in the same areas as those recently placed.

New picnic tables provide extra seating at Huffman Park’s picnic shelter.

As a part of the grant stipulations, the city was required to install signage on the tables recognizing they were purchased through the KDHE Waste Tire Grant program.

The city purchased the tables and benches from Champlin Tire Recycling Inc., Concordia, Kan. The tables and benches are 100 percent recycled plastic and rubber composition. Those purchased in 2015 have proved to be durable, withstood the weather, and required minimal maintenance.

High water closes campgrounds and roads at area lakes

LYNDON, Kan. – Campers at Osage County lakes this weekend are facing high waters, closed campgrounds and a chance of more rain.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is urging campers and lake visitors to use caution around flood waters and high lake elevations after a round of nightly storms have saturated the area this week. At Melvern and Pomona lakes, officials have announced several campgrounds are closed due to retained water causing high lake elevations.

At Melvern Lake, campsites closed due to increased lake elevation include Turkey Point, Sites 1 through 26 and site 30; Coeur d’Alene, Sites 11 through 32; Arrow Rock, Sites 6 through 10, 12 through 15, and 35 through 45. Outlet Park is currently not affected. The lake level continues to rise.

At Pomona Lake, the Coon Creek Causeway between Michigan Valley Park and the Quarry area is closed due to high lake elevation. Access to Wolf Creek Park from Michigan Valley is closed. All sites in Michigan Valley A Loop, C Loop, G Loop, and Wigger Group Camp have now been closed due to high lake elevation. As of Wednesday, the pool elevation continued to rise at Pomona Lake.

The campsites are closed through Wednesday, May 15, 2019, although closure extensions are likely. Officials advised that anyone who has rented a campsite that is closed will receive a full refund. The Corps is no longer charging fees at boat ramps at these lakes and several Corps docks have been pulled out of the water.

NWS warns of flooding along Salt Creek

The National Weather Service in Topeka, Kan., has issued a flood warning for Salt Creek near Lyndon, Kan. The warning is in effect today, April 30, 2019, until Wednesday morning.

At 1:01 p.m. today, Salt Creek’s stage was 6.4 feet. Flood stage is 10.0 feet. Minor flooding is forecast with a rise above flood stage by late afternoon. The creek is expected to continue to rise to near 10.5 feet by early this evening. The creek will fall below flood stage by late evening. At the 10-foot stage, minor low land flooding begins in farm field just west of the U.S. Highway 75 bridge at the south edge of Lyndon.

Learn to manage your pond

As warmer weather moves in, it’s now time to start thinking about our ponds that we have neglected for the last several months. Whether you’re a fisherman who loves baking in the hot summer sun casting out line after line, or you have grandkids that love going swimming in your pond. Of course you could be a livestock owner that utilizes your ponds as a water source when we inevitably dry up this summer. Whatever the reason might be, we need to make sure that we manage our ponds for whatever activities we might enjoy.

The Frontier Extension District will be hosting a public meeting on farm pond management. The meeting will be 7 p.m. May 9, 2019, at the Anderson County Community Building, North Lake Road, Garnett, Kan.

The guest speaker will be Charlie Lee, K-State wildlife management specialist. Lee will discuss pond management, aquatic weed identification, herbicides and their application timing, and how to manage your pond for trophy fish. This meeting will be packed full of information. But don’t just come to listen, bring your questions with you, too.

If this sounds interesting to you, you are invited to learn how to manage your farm ponds. For more information, contact Ryan Schaub, Frontier Extension District, at 785-448-6826 or [email protected].

Burn ban in Osage County Thursday; NWS issues wind advisory

All burn permits in Osage County are suspended for today, Thursday, April 11, 2019, due to high fire danger caused by windy conditions. This is a no burn day with no outside burning allowed in Osage County. The permit suspension will be in effect until 8 a.m. April 12, 2019, but could be extended.

Osage County Emergency Management advises that the rangeland fire danger index will be in the high category this afternoon. High fire danger means fires can start quickly, spread furiously, and burn intensely. All outdoor burning should be avoided.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory in effect from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. South winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts of 45 mph are forecast. A wind advisory means that sustained winds from 30 to 39 mph or gusts from 45 to 57 mph are likely. Steps should be taken to secure any lawn furniture or light weight objects. Smaller loose items may be blown around. Use extra caution when driving, which could be especially hazardous for those traveling in high profile vehicles.

For more information about the burn ban, contact Osage County Emergency Management at 785-828-3323.

Burn ban Wednesday: Wind and warm temperatures add up to fire danger

Osage County Emergency Management has issued a burn ban countywide for April 10, 2019. No outside burning is allowed, and all burn permits are suspended. The ban is in effect until 8 a.m. April 11, and may be extended.

A wind advisory is in effect throughout the day until 7 p.m., with south winds expected at 20 to 30 mph with gusts of 40 to 50 mph. National Weather Service predicts it will be mostly cloudy today with a high near 83. Tonight is expected to remain partly cloudy, with a low around 48; windy, with a south wind 25 to 30 mph decreasing to 15 to 20 mph after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph during the evening hours.

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

Senate confirms Loveless as KDWPT Secretary

TOPEKA – Brad Loveless was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, April 5, 2019. Gov. Laura Kelly appointed him in January.

“Secretary Loveless is an experienced, respected leader of conservation and environmental programs in Kansas,” said Kelly. “I look forward to working with him to foster responsible stewardship of our natural resources and promote the state’s fantastic travel destinations and outdoor recreation opportunities.”

“I am grateful to Governor Kelly for the chance to lead an organization that I greatly respect and have worked with for many years,” said Loveless. “I have had the pleasure of getting to know many previous secretaries, as well as the biologists, land managers and administrative staff. They’re great people and I look forward to working with them to serve this wonderful state.”

Loveless joined the department after a 34-year career with Westar Energy, where he was most recently the senior director of environmental conservation and sustainability. Prior to that position, he was director of biology and conservation programs and earlier held environmental management positions at Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation. He also served as a leader of Westar’s Green Team, an active volunteer group of employees and retirees that helps with habitat improvement, environmental access and education, and enhancement of sensitive species. A fisheries biologist by training, he is an avid angler, hunter and beekeeper.

Frontier Extension, Lyndon Library to present container gardening class

The Frontier Extension District and Lyndon Library will host a meeting on container gardening at 6:30 p.m. April 10, 2019, at the library. This meeting will have a little bit for everyone. Maybe you are a vegetable lover that doesn’t have room for a garden in their back yard. Or maybe you are just wanting to dress up your front porch with some flowers or greenery to make your place more inviting. This meeting is for you.

Discussed will be selection of containers, and positives and negatives of different sized containers. Then we will talk about what to plant. Which of course depends on what your goals are. To cap it all off we will discuss applying fertilizer, watering and how to handle our hot temperatures during the summer months.

If this sounds interesting to you then please make sure to mark your calendar and plan to attend this meeting at the Lyndon Library, 127 E. Sixth St., Lyndon, Kan.

KDHE issues health advisory, safety tips for Flint Hills burning season

Smoke modeling tool activated

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reminding Kansans that March and April are a time when large areas of the state’s Flint Hills rangeland are burned. These burns 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 rangeland resources. Smoke from the burns can influence the air quality of downwind areas. The use of smoke management techniques is vital to reduce impacts.

KDHE activated the Kansas smoke modeling tool on March 1, prior to widespread burning in the Flint Hills. The computer models use fire data and current weather conditions to predict the potential contribution of smoke to downwind air quality problems. On average there are approximately 2.3 million acres burned in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma each year.

“We encourage ranchers and land managers to take advantage of this smoke modeling resource to spread out their burns more effectively and mitigate potential air quality impacts,” said Douglas Watson, meteorologist at the KDHE Bureau of Air. “For burns to be safe and effective, weather and rangeland conditions must be ideal. Many landowners will burn at the same time when such conditions are met. Air pollutants from the burns can affect persons in the Flint Hills and can be carried long distances to more populated areas.”

Burn ban Wednesday: Wind, warm temperatures cause very high fire danger

Osage County Emergency Management has banned all outdoor burning due to very high fire danger today, Wednesday, March 27, 2019. A forecast of gusty winds this afternoon contributed to the rangeland fire index in the very high category for Osage County.

A county burn ban means no outside burning is allowed, and all burn permits are suspended until 8 a.m. March 28, unless the burn ban is extended. Very high fire danger means fire control will be very difficult and require extended effort.

The National Weather Service at Topeka forecasts today will be partly sunny, with a high near 72, and breezy, with a south wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon.

For more information about the burn ban, contact Osage County Emergency Management at 785-828-3323.

Corps braces for more levee breaches as Missouri River flood heads downstream

KANSAS CITY, MO – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District declared a flood emergency along the Missouri River last week due to concerns resulting from heavy rainfall, saturated and snow-covered soils across the basin, and increased releases from upstream dams. The resulting effects pushed river stages into minor, moderate, and major flood stage at various locations along the Missouri River from Rulo, Neb., to St. Louis, Mo.

The Kansas City District Emergency Operations Center is currently operating at a level 2 partial activation, during which the Corps collects, evaluates, interprets and disseminates flooding information both internally and externally. The Corps continues to closely monitor the situation and reiterates that during this flood event that the public remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings.

The Corps is currently providing direct and technical assistance to local levee owners and operators and has dispatched liaison teams to work with both the Kansas Department of Emergency Management and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency. The assistance includes providing sandbags and sandbag filling machines.

Four non-federal levees have breached in the Kansas City District’s area of responsibility. River stages are currently rebounding in and around Rulo, Neb., and St. Joseph, Mo. The water levels are dangerously high and present great risk to people, property and levee systems.

The flood crest will move downstream, expected to impact non-federal levees systems more than federal levees along the Missouri River.

Officials advise drivers to be cautious on local wet, sloppy roads

Local officials are asking everyone traveling on non-paved roads to slow down and use extreme caution. Non-
paved roads have become hazardous with the recent wet and rainy conditions in the Osage County area. With the wet weather expected to continue for the next couple of days, emergency management officials are asking drivers to please slow down, closely watch road conditions, don’t drive through flooded areas, and avoid non-paved roads whenever possible.

More moderate to heavy rain is expected to continue Tuesday evening and Wednesday.

For more information about this local travel advisory, contact Bryce Romine, Osage County Emergency Management director, at 785-828-3323, or 131 W. 14th St., Lyndon, Kan.

Annual NWS severe weather talk scheduled at Burlingame

Remnants of the Harveyville United Methodist Church were all that remained after a tornado ripped through the small Wabaunsee County town on Feb. 28, 2012.

The National Weather Service and Osage County Emergency Management will present a severe weather safety and information talk at 7 p.m. March 14, 2019, at Schuyler Community Center, 218 W. Fremont St., Burlingame, Kan.

Every year, the National Weather Service in Topeka presents severe weather safety and information talks which are open to the general public. Presentations are typically around 90 minutes long and given by a meteorologist from the Topeka NWS office, focusing on severe storm safety, preparedness, and accurate identification of storm features.

In addition to attending a talk, anyone interested in becoming a weather spotter is encouraged to complete an online training class focused on the basics of convective weather and storm structure. See www.weather.gov/top/spottertalks for more information about the NWS weather talks and spotter training.

For more information about the weather talk in Burlingame, contact Bryce Romine, Osage County Emergency Management director, at [email protected] or 785-828-3323.

KDHE issues health advisory, safety tips in preparation for Flint Hills burning season

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reminding Kansans that March and April are a time when large areas of the state’s Flint Hills rangeland are burned. These burns 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 rangeland resources. Smoke from the burns can influence the air quality of downwind areas. The use of smoke management techniques is vital to reduce impacts.

KDHE will activate the Kansas smoke modeling tool on March 1, 2019, prior to widespread burning in the Flint Hills. The computer models use fire data and current weather conditions to predict the potential contribution of smoke to downwind air quality problems. On average there are approximately 2.3 million acres burned in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma each year.

“We encourage ranchers and land managers to take advantage of this smoke modeling resource to spread out their burns more effectively and mitigate potential air quality impacts,” said Douglas Watson, meteorologist at the KDHE Bureau of Air. “For burns to be safe and effective, weather and rangeland conditions must be ideal. Many landowners will burn at the same time when such conditions are met. Air pollutants from the burns can affect persons in the Flint Hills and can be carried long distances to more populated areas.”

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:

  • Healthy people should limit or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.
  • People with respiratory or heart related illnesses should remain indoors.
  • Help keep indoor air clean by closing doors and windows and running air conditioners with air filters.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.

For more information about burning in the Flint Hills, the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan, the April burn restrictions, and the smoke modeling tool, see www.ksfire.org.

Learn how to establish a pollinator garden

Monarch butterflies along the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Photo thanks to Kareen King.

The Frontier Extension District and Anderson County Conservation District will host a public meeting, “Starting a Pollinator Garden”, at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 14, 2019, at the community building in Garnett, Kan.

Bret Laprarie, territory sales agronomist for Sharp Brothers Seed Company, will talk about establishing a pollinator garden. He will discuss plant species that should be considered, and how to maintain a garden for our pollinator friends.

To cap the evening off, John Conway, resource conservationist with the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, will visit with the group about monarch butterflies and how to build a habitat to help them survive their trip south.

This meeting is packed full of information to consume and to take home. Anyone interested in learning more about these topics should attend. The Anderson County Conservation District and the Frontier Extension District will provide some light refreshments for the evening.

For more information, contact Ryan Schaub at 785-448-6826 or Debbie Davis at 785-448-6323 ext. 101.

Limericks and posters make kids dig deep into soil conservation

Winners of the Osage County Conservation District’s poster, essay and limerick contest were honored guests at the district’s annual meeting Jan. 28, 2019, when they received their awards.

Each year the Osage County Conservation District sponsors a poster, essay and limerick contest, with a different theme each year determined by the National Association of Conservation Districts. This year’s theme was “Life in the Soil: Dig Deeper”.

“Congratulations to all the winners,” said Lori Kuykendall, Osage County Conservation District manager. “We appreciate the teachers and students taking time to enter the contest.”

Information about the competition is given to the schools in late October, with entries due before Christmas break. A total of 350 entries were received. There were no essays submitted this year.

This year’s winners are:

Osage County’s 2018 Young Farmer: Balding recognized for hard work on the farm

Jace Balding: Young farmer of the year.

By Lori Kuykendall
Osage County Conservation District

This year’s Osage County Young Farmer awardee is Jace Balding, of rural Osage City. Balding grew up near Reading with his brother and two sisters. He got an early start with farming and ranching, with his father doing custom cattle work and managing grassland. His grandfather had some row crop land that Jace also helped with.

The first job on the farm Balding remembers doing is feeding cattle. “I have fed a lot of cattle!” he said.

Balding also ran the swather and rake as a kid. His dad did all the baling, though. Once, when he was 10 years old, he was allowed to run the combine.

“It was a lot of fun until my mom found out,” Balding said.

Balding was active in 4-H as a kid. The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills through hands on learning projects. Balding’s family had a sheep herd and bottle calves, and learned many life skills by caring for and showing these animals.

In 1999, when he was in high school, he went to work for Ron and Pat Fredrickson on the weekends and during the summer. In 2005, he earned his associate degree from Butler Community College in farm and ranch management. He went to work for the Fredricksons full time after his graduation. The Fredricksons were awarded the 1999 Banker Soil Conservation Award, 2010 Grassland Award, and the 2012 Banker Water Quality Award. Balding helped with a lot of the work that allowed them to receive those awards.

2018 Kansas Bankers Award: Pearson family dedicated to improving land, clean water

The Pearson family: 2018 Kansas Bankers Award winners for Osage County.

By Rod Schaub
Frontier Extension District Agent

Pearson Farms has been selected as the winner of the 2018 Kansas Bankers Association’s Soil Conservation Award, which recognizes farmers and ranchers that have improved their land through conservation practices that conserve their soil.

This year’s winners are Fred and Pat Pearson and their family, of Osage City. The family includes son Clark and his wife, Bobbi, and Max, their son; son Jim and his wife, Dawn, and their children, Paige and Peyton; and son Jeff, who is not involved in the farming operation.

The Pearson family has farmed in the Osage City area for more than 145 years. Fred’s great-grandfather settled northwest of Osage City in 1874. His first job after immigrating from Sweden was working in the coal mines, and soon afterwards he started farming. Paige, a senior at Kansas State University, and brother Peyton, a college freshman, plan to be the sixth generation of Pearsons to farm in Osage County.

Fred was born and raised on a farm near Miller. He attended Kansas State University from 1959 to 1963, where he studied ag education. He met Pat during college. Pat grew up on a farm near Manhattan.

“My father wanted someone in the family to farm, and he was pleased to find out that Fred and I planned to marry,” Pat said. Fred and Pat were married in 1963.

From 1963 to 1968, Fred taught vocational agriculture at Burlingame, and Pat taught grade school at Osage City. Pat retired from teaching to take care of her grandchildren and help as needed around the farm.

The first ground Fred and Pat bought was in 1966. The land was very poor and needed a lot of conservation work and trees and brush controlled. In 1966, Fred and his father, Earl, started the Miller Elevator. The elevator has grown over time and they currently have three locations, Miller, Hartford and Neosho Rapids. The young couple purchased 240 acres and moved to their current home in 1969.

The Pearson Family farm consists of crop farming, mainly corn, soybeans and wheat, the elevator business, and cattle, mainly stockers, and also a cowherd. All this takes coordination of effort and the family divides the work to get the job done. Jim and a hired man plant crops, run the combine, bale the hay, care for the cattle and repair fences. Clark works the elevator, keeps up on crop variety selections, herbicide and insecticide use, and does most of the crop scouting. Bobbi and Dawn have off the farm jobs to help supplement the family income. They both grew up on good family farms, understand farm life, and are a great help around the farm. Fred started slowing down in 2014 and now helps where needed.

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