Category Archives: Outdoors

Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism welcomes Loveless as new leader

TOPEKA, Kan. – Gov. Laura Kelly has named Brad Loveless to be secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. His appointment was effective Jan. 14, 2019.

Loveless is familiar to many Kansans and to KDWPT staff as a leader in conservation and environmental programs. He comes to the department from 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 is perhaps most well-known as one of the leaders of Westar’s Green Team, an active volunteer group of employees and retirees that has been helping with habitat improvement, environmental access and education, and enhancement of sensitive species for 30 years.

“During my career, I have had the pleasure of working closely with KDWPT staff on many occasions,” Loveless said. “They are dedicated and hard-working, and I look forward to helping them manage the state’s natural resources and promote all the wonderful outdoor and travel experiences that Kansas offers.”

In 2013, Loveless was awarded the Kansas State Forester’s Award for Community Forestry. In 2009, he was recognized by the Kansas Wildlife Federation as Wildlife Conservationist of the Year and by the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education as their Strickler Award winner for Environmental Education. He is an avid hunter, angler and beekeeper.

Ready for winter? It’s here

The National Weather Service at Topeka is advising another round of wintry precipitation is expected today into Thursday morning with the worst conditions this evening and overnight. Snow and ice amounts are expected to remain light with only minor impacts mainly to roads, especially on bridges and other elevated surfaces.

Drivers are advised to be prepared for slick driving conditions especially during the latter portions of the day today.

A winter weather advisory is in effect from noon today to 6 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, and covers Republic, Washington, Marshall, Nemaha, Cloud, Clay, Riley, Pottawatomie, Ottawa, Dickinson, Geary, Morris, Wabaunsee, Lyon and Osage counties.

A winter weather advisory for snow means periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. Expect snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving. The latest road conditions for the state can be obtained by calling 511.

NWS is also warning that a bitterly cold air mass is forecast to move into the region this weekend. As temperatures drop and winds increase, very cold wind chill readings will likely result. The coldest periods will be from Saturday evening through Sunday night. Wind chill values are expected to fall as low as -20 degrees F over portions of the area.

Everyone is advised to be weather aware and remember cold weather safety.

Winter weather moves in for weekend

National Weather Service in Topeka has issued an urgent winter weather message warning of a winter weather advisory that remains in effect from 6 p.m. this evening Jan. 11, 2019, to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12.

Snow with accumulations of 2 to 6 inches are expected to begin this evening across east central, north central and northeast Kansas.

The advisory covers Republic, Washington, Marshall, Nemaha, Brown, Cloud, Clay, Riley,  Pottawatomie, Jackson, Jefferson, Ottawa, Dickinson, Geary, Morris, Wabaunsee, Shawnee, Douglas, Lyon, Osage, Franklin, Coffey and Anderson counties.

A winter weather advisory means periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties.  Expect snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving. The latest road conditions for the state can be obtained by calling 511.

KDA offers morel mushroom identification workshops

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Agriculture, in partnership with K-State Research and Extension, Kaw Valley Mycological Society and the University of Kansas, is offering two sessions to help people earn the necessary approval to sell wild morel mushrooms. The sessions will take place in Olathe on Feb. 1, and in Parsons on Feb. 2, in conjunction with Regional Farmers’ Market Workshops.

The session is intended to help ensure that wild harvested mushrooms sold as morels in the state of Kansas are safe to consume. Current regulations under KDA’s food safety and lodging program require that mushrooms picked in the wild for sale must be individually inspected for safety by an approved mushroom identifier. Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be recognized as approved morel identifiers in order to meet this regulation. This is a three-year approval.

The session in Olathe will be held 2-3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, 2019,  at K-State Olathe, 22201 W. Innovation Dr., Olathe. The session in Parsons will be held 2-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at Southeast Research & Extension Center, 25092 Ness Rd., Parsons.

I-70 closed between Colby and WaKeeney

Kansas Department of Transportation has announced that Interstate 70 between Colby and WaKeeney was closed this morning, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018, in both directions because of winter weather conditions. Several other highways in western Kansas are also closed.

For up-to-date information on road closures and road conditions, check travel information at www.kandrive.org, or call 511 in Kansas or 866-511-5368 outside Kansas.

Corps cautions against hazards of winter recreation on the water

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District is urging caution for those recreating on or near water during cold weather. No matter the season, water safety is a year-round concern.

“We urge you to consider your safety and that of others when recreating at a lake or river this winter,” said Col. Douglas Guttormsen, commander of the Kansas City District. “Weather conditions in the heartland are unpredictable and directly affect the condition of ice on the water. Don’t risk it.”

Before heading outdoors, make a plan, pack accordingly and know the risks. Dress appropriately for the water temperature not the air temperature, because you could find yourself capsized, or thrown from a boat. Life jackets save lives and should be worn at all times by anyone in a boat, including those waterfowl hunting or fishing.

Overbrook sets comprehensive plan for geese control; schedules controlled hunt

For the past year, the city of Overbrook has been looking at ways to control the goose population as well as the blue-green algae issue at the Overbrook City Lake and the Kid’s Fishing Pond. The city received input from Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the lake steering committee, Overbrook Parks and Recreation, and the public. Using that information, the Overbrook City Council formulated and approved the following comprehensive plan to control the geese population:

Canada Geese Control – Overbrook Comprehensive Plan

The overpopulation of geese on the Overbrook City Lake contributes to the growth of blue green algae. Additionally, goose droppings create a messy path around the lake. The average Canada goose produces more fecal waste than a dairy cow on a per-weight basis.  The city has begun using the broom on the grasshopper mower to make walking the path more pleasant.

Methods of control are necessary. The City has been working with the Overbrook Lake Committee, Parks and Rec, and State Wildlife and Parks personnel during the past year to develop a long-term, effective, humane solution to reduce the number of resident geese.

There is no single quick fix. Research shows that the best geese control programs combine three methods: Limiting flock growth through egg oiling and controlled hunting, frightening geese (humanely) so they decide to leave on their own, and changing the habitat/no feeding so the lake isn’t attractive to geese. No Feeding signs are posted at the lake. Fines will be evaluated.

Controlled hunts are being planned and will begin mid-December. Signs will be posted at the lake, on Facebook, and the city alert system and the website indicating times the lake will be closed to residents. Overbrook residents who would like to be included in the hunt lottery need to be experienced waterfowl hunters and have all licenses and hunting permits.

USACE urges safety when hunting in public areas

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urges all hunters to be safe this fall when hunting at the 18 lakes throughout Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska and the Missouri River.

Whether your hunting season started Labor Day weekend or you are still awaiting your first opportunity to venture out, hunter safety is a must. First, before you put on your hunting gear here are five safety musts to ensure many return visits to that favorite spot:

Follow firearms safety practices

Treat every gun as if it were loaded. Never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to shoot, Ever! Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Know your surroundings

Learn the location of the property boundaries, homes, building, trails, and other recreation areas where you are hunting. Know where to hunt and know where other people and places are located.

Wear safety equipment

State laws require specific safety equipment or attire to be wore while hunting. It is also important to remember to wear your life jacket while hunting from a boat or a safety harness while hunting high up in a tree.

Respect other public land users

Public land allows for multiple different uses. Hikers, bikers, and wildlife watchers have just as much privilege to use public land as hunters. Respect their use too.

Non-hunters near hunting areas

Non-hunters and their pets should wear bright, noticeable clothing and make enough noise for adjacent hunters to know your presence. If you want to avoid hunting altogether many public use areas around the lake are restricted to hunting.

Governor issues state of disaster emergency declaration following winter storm

The National Weather Service’s snowfall total map shows Osage County received as much as six inches of snow north of Burlingame, and as little as 1.2 inches near Melvern Lake, during Sunday’s storm.

As Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a statewide disaster emergency declaration, Kansans began to work on recovery efforts in the wake of the winter storm that blew through Kansas Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. The governor’s declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties.

While crews continued to clean roads and streets Monday, the governor and state officials advised holiday travelers to be prepared for conditions they might encounter.

“Here in Kansas we make it a priority to take care of our neighbors,” said Colyer. “We strongly recommend that you postpone travel plans, if possible, however, if you must be on the road, make sure your vehicle’s emergency kit is stocked, your gas tank is full and your cell phone and charger are with you and someone knows your travel plans. Also, be mindful of all emergency response personnel out on Kansas roadways and give them space to do their jobs to ensure their safety and that of our citizens.”

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations center in Topeka to a partial level, to monitor the weather and coordinate any state emergency response operations that might be requested.

During the storm, the Kansas Department of Transportation reported multiple road closures due to visibility including I-70 eastbound and westbound from Salina to WaKeeney. For an updated list of road conditions go to the Kansas Department of Transportation web site at kandrive.org. Winter road conditions are accessible by dialing 511 from your mobile phone anywhere in Kansas; outside Kansas call 866-511-5368 (KDOT).

KDEM received reports of vehicles getting stuck in the snow and those individuals leaving their vehicles and walking in the storm. KDEM advises that the safest place for travelers is to remain in their vehicle. Road crews may not see pedestrians due to visibility issues. If stuck, KDEM advises to stay in your vehicle, but make sure your exhaust pipe is clear and not clogged with snow or ice debris or you run the risk of filling your vehicle is carbon monoxide. Run your car sparingly while you are waiting on help, and keep a window cracked. If stuck in the snow call the Kansas Highway Patrol by dialing *HP (47), or *KTA (582) while on the Kansas Turnpike.

The Kansas National Guard has Stranded Motorists Assistance Response Teams in nine locations throughout the state. The SMART teams, which consist of two High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWVs) and four Guardsmen, are assisting local law enforcement with patrolling impacted roads and assisting with stranded motorists.

Following the storm, with the brunt moving through Kansas by Sunday evening, Westar Energy and Midwest Energy reported power outages across multiple counties in the western and northeastern portions of the state.  

Weekend winter storm forecast for Kansas

A winter storm system is forecast to descend across Kansas with the heaviest forecast of snow in the northern half of the state Saturday night into mid-day Sunday with snow and extreme blowing snow that will drastically limit visibility to those on affected Kansas roadways.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management is reminding Kansans that road travel is discouraged during extreme winter storm situations.

KDEM is coordinating with the Kansas National Guard to place stranded motorists assistance response teams throughout the forecast most heavily impacted areas and will staff the State Emergency Operations Center during deployment of these teams. If the need arises the SMART teams will deploy to assist local law enforcement with stranded motorists.

“Kansans are urged to change or delay their travel plans in these areas until the storm moves through,” said Angee Morgan, KDEM deputy director. “Some areas will see gusting winds which will cause blizzard like and whiteout conditions with areas of blowing and drifting snow. This could cause extremely hazardous traveling conditions.  If you plan to travel, use caution and make sure your car emergency kit is stocked.”

Winter Weather Awareness Day recognizes need to prepare

Winter Weather Awareness Day in Kansas is today, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Emergency managers recommend observing the day as a time for Kansans to take stock of emergency supplies and review home emergency plans.

A home emergency supply kit should include enough nonperishable food and water for each person to survive for a minimum of seven days, a safe alternate heat source, blankets, flashlights and batteries, a battery-operated weather radio, essential medicines, and other items needed for health and comfort should the power go out.

Vehicles should be equipped with emergency kits, too, particularly if you are planning to travel long distances. These kits should include weather appropriate clothing, bottled water for everyone, nonperishable, high-energy snack items, flashlights and batteries, a battery-operated radio, blankets, a compact snow shovel, extra medications, signal flares and other emergency supplies to allow you to survive until help can arrive. It is also advisable to fill your gas tank before you start on a journey, check engine fluid levels and tire pressure, and make sure cell phones are fully charged.

Emergency plans and preparations should also include family pets. During winter storms, bring outdoor pets inside, if possible, or ensure that they have a draft-free enclosure with straw type bedding that is large enough to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold their body heat if they must remain outside. Always make sure that your pets have access to food and non-frozen water.

Blue-green algae warnings lifted for all Osage County lakes

TOPEKA – All lakes in Osage County that were previously under watch or warning status for blue-green algae have been cleared by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

The two agencies lifted the warning and watch for Melvern Outlet Pond and Carbondale West Lake this week; they were the two remaining lakes in Osage County under the algae alert.

In northeast Kansas, the agencies have issued a public health warning for Frazier Lake in Grant County for the upcoming weekend and week, and South Lake Park, Johnson County, remains under a watch status.

Several lakes in Osage County experienced blue-green algae blooms over the summer, including Carbondale West Lake, Melvern Outlet Pond, Melvern Outlet Swim Pond, Overbrook City Lake, Overbrook City Kids Pond, and Pomona Lake.

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.

Two area lakes remain under health warning for blue-green algae

TOPEKA, Kan. – All except two Osage County lakes that were previously under a blue-green algae warning or watch have now been released from the public health advisories. Carbondale West Lake and Melvern Outlet Pond remain under a warning status for the algae, with activities at those lakes still restricted.

Toward the end of the summer, several area lakes were under either warning or watch status for blue-green algae. The warning or watch status has now been lifted for Melvern Outlet Swim Pond, Overbrook City Lake, Overbrook City Kids Pond, and Pomona Lake.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism issue the public health warnings for Kansas lakes.

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.

Lakes under a warning are not closed. 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. Hands should also be washed with clean water after handling fish taken from an affected lake.

Land and water stewards sought for annual conservation awards

Tallgrass prairie in the Kansas Flint Hills. Photo USFWS.

The Kansas Conservation Awards Program, sponsored by the Kansas Bankers Association, will once again be held in Osage County. The KBA, K-State Research and Extension, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and Tourism have established six award categories, including energy conservation, water quality, water conservation, soil conservation, windbreaks and wildlife habitat.

The purpose of the program is to stimulate a greater interest in the conservation of agricultural and natural resources of Kansas. Each year more than 200 Kansas producers and landowners are recognized through this program. Nominations for these awards can be made by any person in the county. Information about these awards can be picked up at the local Extension office or by visiting the K-State Research and Extension website: www.agronomy.kstate.edu/extension.

Nomination forms are available at the Osage County Conservation District office or the Frontier Extension District office in Lyndon, the Bank of Burlingame or the Bank of Osage City. Or contact 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. 31, 2018.

Upon receipt of the nomination forms, a committee chaired by Rod Schaub, Frontier Extension District agent, will select this year’s winners. Winners will be recognized at the Osage County Conservation District’s annual meeting.

Shooting sports team represents Frontier District at 4-H state shotgun competitions

Four members of the Osage County shooting sports program and one member of the Franklin County shooting sports program were among representatives of the Frontier Extension District at the recent 4-H State Shotgun Match. Osage County members include Cody Atchison, JD Schoepflin, Bobby Quaney and Dylon Harris. Carlos Santoya is the fifth member of the team from Franklin County.

All five members shot for an individual score for trap, skeet and sporting clays. Their five scores were also combined for team scores in each discipline and for an overall team score. The team finished the contest taking 36th place out of 120 teams in the shotgun grand aggregate score, while finishing 13th in trap, 11th in skeet, and fifth in sporting clays. Several team members also had personal successes in the matches. (Results are available through the K-State website here.)

State 4-H Trap and Skeet was held Oct. 6, 2018, at Ark Valley Gun Club, near Wichita, Kan., and State Sporting Clays shoot was held Oct. 7, 2018, at Murphy and Sons, in Augusta, Kan.

This is the first time in recent years that Osage County or the Frontier District have had enough shooters qualify to enter as a team. Local 4-H shooting sports instructor Robert Quaney has volunteered many hours to help the team practice and prepare for the local qualifying events in preparation for the state shoot.  

NWS issues flood warning for Salt Creek at Lyndon

The National Weather Service in Topeka has issued a flood warning for Salt Creek near Lyndon, which will be in effect from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon.

NWS reported that at 11:32 p.m. Monday the stage of the creek was 5.5 feet; flood stage is 10 feet.

Minor flooding is forecast, with the creek expected to rise above flood stage by early afternoon Tuesday and continue to rise to near 10.3 feet by Tuesday evening. The creek will fall below flood stage by early Wednesday morning.

The impact expected at the flood stage of 10 feet is minor low land flooding that usually begins in a farm field just west of the U.S. Highway 75 bridge.

It’s autumn, watch for deer on roadways

TOPEKA – 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 six years, so areas that have had deer likely still have them,” said Levi Jaster, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism big game biologist. “This time of year, young animals are dispersing to find new places to live and breeding season is approaching. More animals on the move means more of them will be crossing roads, so be extra cautious in areas with good deer habitat.”

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, 10,226 (17 percent) of the 58,834 vehicle crashes reported in 2017 were deer-related (crashes in which a deer and vehicle actually collided or the presence of a deer was a contributing circumstance). Crashes involving deer occur in every part of the state throughout the year. In 2017, Butler County had 438 vehicle-deer crashes, the most of any county, while Sedgwick County followed with 385 vehicle-deer crashes.

“In addition to potentially causing human injuries and loss of life, deer collisions often cause significant vehicle damage that can lead to large expenses for the vehicle owner if not properly insured,” said Jennifer Haugh, public and government affairs manager for AAA Kansas. “Of the animal strikes reported by AAA insurance policy holders in 2017, the average cost per claim was more than $4,500.”

A spokesman for the Kansas Highway Patrol cautions drivers to refrain from making exaggerated maneuvers to avoid a deer in the road, which can make the situation worse.

“If you are unfortunate enough to have a deer enter the highway in front of your car, it is best to hit the animal and not swerve to avoid it,” said the KHP Lt. Adam Winters. “Often, we find more serious crashes occur when you swerve to miss the deer, potentially losing control of your vehicle, leaving the road or veering into oncoming traffic.”

Master Gardener program now taking applications; apply by Nov. 2

The Frontier Extension District is taking applications for upcoming Master Gardener training. In the Master Gardener program, participants learn about plant biology, soils, flowers, trees and shrubs, lawn care, fruits, vegetables, indoor plants, insects, diseases and pesticides. The educational information received can benefit participants and their neighborhood.

The Master Gardener training will be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. every other Saturday starting Jan. 5, 2019, and running until March 2, 2019.

If you aren’t sure if the Master Gardener program is for you, ask yourself these questions. Do you enjoy working in the garden, flower bed or your lawn? Do you enjoy people, learning new things, and helping out in your community? If you answered yes to these questions, the Master Gardner Program might be for you.

Old World Bluestem: What is it? Why be concerned?

Osage and Coffey County conservation districts with local Kansas State Research and Extension units have teamed up to inform the public about the hazards of old world bluestem. A public meeting on the topic will be held 10:30 a.m.-noon, Oct. 8, 2018, at a pasture site in southern Osage County.

Producers will have an opportunity to identify old world bluestem, see areas where old world bluestem was controlled by recommended herbicides, ask questions to specialists about the recovery of the native grass species or the need to reseed. A free hotdog and chip lunch will be available.

Two local producers will discuss their control applications. Walt Fick, KSU range management specialist, will talk about the origin of old world bluestem, why we should be concerned, help with plant identification, and outline control options. Scott Marsh, of Kansas Department of Agriculture Plant Protection and Weed Control, will give the state’s current view of old world bluestem as a possible noxious weed. Robert Harkrader, with Quail Unlimited, will discuss how it negatively affects the quail population.

While these grasses are called bluestem they are not closely related to big bluestem or little bluestem. Old world bluestems are a group of introduced grasses from southeast Soviet Union, Turkey and surrounding areas. The old world bluestems are survivors of centuries of overgrazing. They are drought tolerant, aggressive, prolific seed producers, and are unpalatable compared to our native species. When pastures are overgrazed or stressed by drought, the old world bluestem invade into our native range and reduce the productivity of our pastures. Once old world bluestem invades a pasture the control currently used is herbicide.

Pomona State Park to celebrate fall with arts and crafts show, chili cookoff

Pomona State Park will be celebrating the coming of fall with a festival at the park on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. An arts and crafts vendors show will be held 9 a.m.-3 p.m., and a chili cookoff will begin at 5 p.m. Activities will be at the Southwind Shelter House.

This is a free event and no vehicle permits are required. Everyone is invited to the arts and crafts show and to enter their best chili recipe; prizes will be awarded to winners.

The festival is sponsored by Friends of Pomona State Park.

West Nile virus confirmed in horses in Kansas

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health has received notification of multiple confirmed cases of West Nile virus in horses across the state over the past few weeks. Confirmed cases have been reported in Lyon, Seward, Neosho, Marion and Wichita counties.

WNV is a preventable disease, with annual vaccinations that have proven highly effective. All of the confirmed cases of WNV in Kansas were in unvaccinated horses or horses with an unknown vaccination history and assumed to be unvaccinated. All horse owners should consult with their local veterinarians and make a vaccination plan for their horses.

WNV is a virus that can infect humans, horses, birds and other species. Horses infected with WNV can have symptoms that range from depression, loss of appetite and fever to severe neurologic signs such as incoordination, weakness, inability to rise, and hypersensitivity to touch or sound. WNV can be fatal in horses. Anyone who sees symptoms of WNV in their horse should contact a veterinarian immediately.

The virus is carried and transmitted by mosquitoes; it is not directly contagious from horse to horse or from horse to human. WNV is a reportable disease in Kansas, which means veterinarians are required by law to report any confirmed cases to the state veterinarian.

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