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OCEM issues burn ban for windy Tuesday in Osage County

NWS issues red flag warning

Osage County Emergency Management has issued a burn ban today for the entire county, and the National Weather Service, Topeka, has implemented a red flag warning in effect from this morning through 6 p.m., Feb. 27, 2024, for Osage, Jefferson, Morris, Wabaunsee, Shawnee, Douglas, and Franklin counties

Osage County’s burn ban is in place until 8 a.m. tomorrow, Feb. 28. During the burn ban, no outside burning is allowed and all county burn permits are suspended. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will soon. High winds coupled with relative humidity as low as 20 percent and warm temperatures creates conditions for extreme fire behavior.

Under conditions of extreme fire danger, 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.

In addition, Osage County and central, east central and northeast Kansas are in a wind weather advisory from 5 p.m. today until 3 a.m. Wednesday. NWS predicts southwest winds at 15 to 20 mph this afternoon with gusts of 25 to 30 mph, then switching in the mid to late afternoon to northwest winds sustained at 30 mph and gusts around 45 mph expected. NWS advises that gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and power outages can  result.

For more information about the burn ban, contact Osage County Emergency Management at 785-828-3323 or the Osage County Sheriff’s Office at 785-828-3121.

KDOT to start work on new section of the Flint Hills Trail in Franklin County

The week of March 4, 2024, the Kansas Department of Transportation expects to start work on a Transportation Alternatives project that will add a new section to the Flint Hills Trail State Park, in Franklin County. The new 2.3-mile section, located west of Ottawa, Kan., extends west from Louisiana Terrace to Iowa Road.

Project activity includes constructing the 10-foot-wide multi-use trail and a pedestrian bridge over the BNSF Railway and improving three existing bridges. The 3.4-mile signed county road detour will be deactivated when work on the new section is finished.

The Transportation Alternatives Program covers on and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities, infrastructure projects for improving non-driver access to public transportation and enhanced mobility, and Safe Routes to School sidewalk improvements. Upon completion of the Franklin County project, the Flint Hills Trail will have 93 miles of continuous traversable trail for bicyclists and pedestrians from Osawatomie to Council Grove.

KDOT awarded the construction contract of $4.9 million to Dondlinger & Sons Construction Co. Inc., of Wichita, Kan. Persons with questions may contact construction manager Ian Stringham at 785-433-6116 or public affairs manager Priscilla Petersen at 620-902-6433.

Frontier Extension District school to promote safe and effective prescribed grassland burns

Speakers to share guidelines for planning and conducting burns, and having necessary tools

By Carol Engle
Frontier Extension District Communications and Marketing Manager

OTTAWA, Kan. – K-State Research and Extension Frontier District will host a school to teach attendees how to plan and conduct a safe and effective prescribed burn of grasslands. Tools needed for burns will also be discussed. The school will be held 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, at the Neosho County Community College, Ottawa Campus, 900 E. Logan St., Ottawa, Kan. A chili lunch will be available with a donation appreciated to cover costs. Registration is requested by Friday, Feb. 23, to Rod Schaub, Frontier Extension agricultural agent, at 785-828-4438 or rschaub@ksu.edu.

Presenters for the school will include Ethan Walker, NRCS range specialist, David Kraft, Kansas Grazing Land Coalition, Justin Harbit, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and Nathan Griesemer, National Weather Service. Topics will include reasons to burn, weather conditions for burning, equipment needed and planning for and conducting a burn, fire behavior, hazards and precautions, liability and CRP rules.

Corps waives user fees on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

OMAHA, Neb. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will waive day use fees at more than 2,850 USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 15, 2024.

The waiver covers fees for boat launch ramps and swimming beaches. The waiver does not apply to camping and camping-related services, or fees for specialized facilities and events. Other agencies that manage recreation areas on USACE lands are encouraged, but not required, to offer the waiver in the areas that they manage.

Visitors are encouraged to contact USACE lake and river projects before visiting to ensure recreation areas are open. For more information see www.corpslakes.us.

The MLK Day fee waiver began in 2023 to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, a national leader of the 1950s-1960s Civil Rights movement, and who continues to inspire the pursuit of civil rights today. MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.

Kansas state parks to offer New Year’s Day hikes

Hikers are invited to celebrate the New Year with fun, fresh air, and scenic views by participating in a First Day Hike at a Kansas state park. The self-led and guided hikes are organized annually by parks staff to encourage individuals and families to start the year on the right foot, by getting outside and connecting with nature.

This year, more than 1,000 hikes will be available in state parks around the United States, including 33 First Day Hike events hosted by Kansas State Parks. While the distance and rigor of the hikes will vary at each state park, all aim to create a fun experience for all. Savor the beauty of the natural, cultural, and historical resources state parks offer, and be inspired to continue taking advantage of these local treasures throughout calendar year 2024.

“This will be our 13th year to offer First Day Hikes in Kansas’ state parks and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Linda Lanterman, Kansas State Parks director. “Each year, these events grow more and more popular because they’re a fun and healthy way to start the New Year, they’re a great cure for cabin fever, and they’re held in some of the prettiest parts of our state.”

Locally, hikes are available at Pomona State Park and on the Flint Hills Nature Trail.

  • Pomona State Park will offer a mixed route with a one-mile hike and a four-mile hike. Hikers should meet at 10 a.m. Jan. 1 at the park office. The one-mile hike will be good for young family groups and those not wanting a strenuous hike. The four-mile hike will be medium in difficulty due to the terrain. Hikers could see cedar waxwings, eagles, foxes, woodpeckers, owls, pelicans and other wildlife. Contact Pomona State Park at 785-828-4933.
  • The Flint Hills Nature Trail hike will begin at 9 a.m. Jan. 1, 2024, from the Council Grove trailhead at Seventh and Walnut streets in Council Grove. The trail is described as easy in difficulty, with participants encouraged to bring a bike to ride the trail. For more information, contact Flint Hills Trail State Park at 785-448-2627.

Kansas state parks’ staff recommend being prepared for the hike and consider bringing the following, if possible: Water, snacks, weather appropriate clothing such as hat, gloves, heavy coat, suitable shoes for hiking, binoculars, hiking stick, and camera

With limited availability, First Day Hike T-shirts will be offered to participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Depending on the park, a vehicle permit could be required; contact the state park for details.

NWS issues flood warning for Lyndon area; flash flood warning for east central Kansas

The National Weather Service is warning of localized flooding in the Lyndon, Kan., area Wednesday, and possible flash flooding across Osage, Franklin and Coffey counties at mid day.

The NWS flood warning is for Salt Creek at the south edge of Lyndon, which was approaching flood stage of 10 feet as of 6:46 a.m. today, Oct. 25, 2023, when the warning was issued. Minor flooding is forecast with flood effects expected to end by Thursday morning.

NWS reports that at a flood stage of 10 feet, Salt Creek is bank full and minor lowland flooding begins in a farm field west of the U.S. Highway 75 bridge, near the south Lyndon city limit. At 14.3 feet, water overflows the north bank of the creek and flows into fields north of Salt Creek east of the U.S. 75 bridge. At 16.0 feet, South Berryton Road floods three miles east of Lyndon. The creek is expected to rise above flood stage of 10 feet this morning, and crest at 14.5 feet this afternoon. It is forecast to fall below flood stage this evening.

Tuesday’s overnight rain, estimated at three to nine inches locally, has also resulted in NWS issuing a flash flood warning for Osage County, northwestern Coffey County, northwestern Franklin, which is in effect this morning until 10:30 a.m.

At 6:24 a.m., Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain across the warned area, with between three and nine inches of rain having fallen overnight. At the time of the warning, flash flooding was ongoing or expected to begin shortly. Flash flooding can occur on small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses, and other poor drainage and low-lying areas.

NWS warns of areas on Interstate 35 between mile markers 144 and 153, and 169 and 181, which are known to flash flood. Other locations that can experience flash flooding include Ottawa, Osage City, Lyndon, Centropolis, Lebo, Pomona, Quenemo, Melvern, Reading, Olivet, Pomona Lake And Melvern Lake.

NWS warns that most flooding related deaths occur in vehicles and drivers should heed the saying, “Turn around, don’t drown” when encountering flooded roads. Drivers are advised to be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding.

NWS reports weather radio outage for Osage, Coffey counties, surrounding area

The National Weather Service reported today, Oct. 24, 2023, the Halls Summit NOAA weather radio is off the air due to a circuit issue, causing a weather radio outage for the area served by the transmitter. NWS reported technicians have been notified and are working to repair it, but there is no estimated restore time.

From its location at Halls Summit, Kan., Coffey County, about seven miles southwest of Waverly, the transmitter broadcasts at 162.425. It covers an area that includes Osage, Lyon, Coffey, Anderson and Franklin counties, and portions of Shawnee, Douglas, Allen, Woodson, Greenwood, Morris, and Wabaunsee counties.

Neighboring transmitters that service some of these areas include WZ2512 at Parker, broadcasting on Ch. 6 or frequency 162.525 MHz; WXK95 at Chanute, broadcasting on Ch. 1 or frequency 162.400 MHz; KID77 at Kansas City, broadcasting on Ch. 7 or frequency 162.550 MHz; WXK91 at Topeka, broadcasting on Ch. 4 or frequency 162.475 MHz.

KDWP to host cooking competition featuring wild game, foraged foods

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Whether grilled, smoked, poached, canned or dehydrated, wild foods procured from the Kansas outdoors will be on showcase at the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ first-ever cooking competition Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, in Lawrence, Kan.

Whether you’re new to the culinary world, a seasoned home cook or a classically-trained chef, KDWP is inviting all to compete at this free community partnership event hosted by KDWP, Baker University Wetlands Discovery Center, Native Lands Restoration Collaborative, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Haskell University.

The competition will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 19, at Baker University Wetlands Discovery Center, 1365 N 1250 Road, Lawrence.

Competitors may submit entries in any of the following categories: wild game, wild fish, wild plants, wild mushrooms, wild sweets (fruit, berries, dessert, etc.) and wild invasive or nuisance species. Entries will be judged by a panel of local expert foragers, with prizes awarded to the top entrant in each category, as well as a special prize for the “Community Favorite” entry.

Interested parties may register for the competition by visiting programs.ksoutdoors.com/Wild-Foods-Cook-Off.

In addition to the wild foods cook-off, the day’s activities will also include mini workshops on native lands habitat restoration, foraging, and plant and insect identification. A formal land acknowledgement, and presentation on Baker Wetlands history, will also be provided before cook-off winners are formally announced. The day’s events, including the cooking competition, are offered at no cost to the public; and, attendees do not need to register a dish to taste entries or participate in the day’s workshops.

For more information, contact event organizer and KDWP Education Specialist Amy Bousman at amy.bousman@ks.gov.

Lady Indians On the Run finish final 5K of season

Oct. 10, 2023, members of the Lady Indians On the Run group from Osage City, participated in their final 5K run of the season. Lady Indians On the Run is an after school program for girls in grades third through fifth. Twice a week, members work on skills to boost their confidence, build friendships, and encourage positive communication. Along with the lessons, students then run and work on teamwork. These girls had a great running season! Coaches for the groups are Darcy Keeffe and Collene Stucky. Courtesy photo.

ESU offers livestream access to annular solar eclipse

EMPORIA, Kan. – Do you want to see the full annular solar eclipse Saturday, but can’t travel to it? Mark Brown, director of the Emporia State University Planetarium, is in New Mexico to livestream the event as it happens on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023.

When tuning into the livestream, viewers will witness the moon pass directly in front of the sun, creating a spectacular “ring of fire” effect.

View online at https://www.hornet365.com/hornetcams; the broadcast will be available 10:10 a.m. to 1:25 p.m. CDT Saturday.

Fall is in the air at Osage City: Chamber hosts downtown festival Saturday

The Osage City Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a fall festival 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, downtown on Fifth Street and Santa Fe Park.

The Chamber is planning a fun event for the entire family. All are invited to come and participate in the youth and adult activities, such as the corn hole tournament, inflatables, face painting, pumpkin decorating, sack races, scarecrow making,  beer stein contests, keg roll, and pretzel eating contest. Also available will be a beer garden, food  trucks, and local craft and food booths. A DJ will provide music throughout the event.

Shopping will be available at the downtown businesses staying open for the festival; some will offer special sidewalk sales. Be sure to check them out.

The day of fun starts out with the annual Chamber hosted disc golf tournament, which will be held at Jones Park Disc Golf Course. Registration is at 10 a.m.; start at 11 a.m. For more information about the golf tournament, contact Shanda Koett at 620-560-5132.

Here’s the schedule for the festival:

Bow-angler breaks 40-year state record for spotted gar

BIG HILL RESERVOIR, Kan. – A lucky bow-angler from Parsons, Kan., has officially broken a 40-year state record for spotted gar in Kansas. Michael Starr Jr. was fishing at Big Hill Reservoir, Labette County, in late July when he successfully reeled in a 34.5-inch spotted gar weighing 7.98 pounds.

Michael Starr Jr. shows his state record catch, a 34.5-inch, 7.98-pound spotted gar. KDWP photo.

The previous Kansas state record for spotted gar was held by bow-angler Charles Harbert, of Arma, when he caught a 33.5-inch, 7.75-lb spotted gar from the Chetopa Dam in 1983.

Spotted gar derive the name from trademark dark, round spots on the top and sides of its head. Most are less than 30 inches long, but like other gar species, it’s covered with a tough armor of thick, heavy scales. There are three native species of gar in Kansas. The spotted gar is the smallest and can be found in the southeastern part of the state.

How state records are set

Trophy catches such as these end up as a Kansas State Record if:

  • The fish is a species recognized on the current list of Kansas state record fish.
  • The fish is caught by a licensed angler using legal means.
  • The fish is identified by a Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks district fisheries biologist or regional fisheries supervisor.
  • The fish is weighed on a certified scale prior to being frozen.
  • The fish is photographed, in color, and a state record application is filled out.
  • The mandatory 30-day waiting period has passed.

Fall turkey season suspended in Kansas due to population declines

PRATT, Kan. – Beginning this fall, Kansas will have no fall turkey hunting season due to declining populations at state and regional levels. The decision was arrived at by members of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission after hearing recommendations from staff over the course of four public meetings.

“We’ve documented consistent declines in turkey populations over the last 15 years largely due to reduced production levels,” said Kent Fricke, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks small game biologist. “These trends are not unique to Kansas. States across the Midwest and Southeast have experienced similar patterns in turkey populations.”

Though far fewer turkey hunters participate in the fall season than in the spring in Kansas, wildlife biologists said it remained an important component of overall harvest.

“The estimated statewide fall harvest of turkey was less than 500 birds in 2022,” said Fricke. “While this is a small proportion of the statewide population, fall harvest is an additive source of mortality for turkeys, especially when hens are harvested.”

Osage City host citywide garage sales this weekend, Sept. 15-16

Osage City citywide garage sales will be Sept. 15-16, 2023. The garage sales are hosted by the Osage City Chamber of Commerce, which distributes a map of the sales. Garage and yard sales offer a great opportunity to get rid of some of that stuff you never use and free up some space.

The area map provides a chart for the type of items at the garage sales and is available here. A paper copy of the map will be available at BP, Casey’s, City Hall, Osage City Public Library and White’s Foodliner starting Thursday, September 14. For more information, see Tricia Gundy at Peterson’s Assisted Living, 629 Holliday St., Osage City, or call 785-219-9727.

Santa Fe Trail girls golfers on par for successful 2023 season

SFTHS golfers at West Franklin tournament on Sept. 6, included Braegan Buessing, Bailey Anshutz, Ashley Masters, Taylor Long and Shelby Garrison. Courtesy photo.

Santa Fe Trail High School girls golf team has been driving through regional tournaments, beginning their competition Aug. 24, 2023, at the Jeff West 9-Hole Invitational at Village Greens Golf Course, and placing fourth out of seven teams. SFTHS competitors in the tournament were Bailey Anshutz, Braegan Buessing, Addison Alvarez, Ashley Masters, Shelby Garrison, and Katrina Drury.

SFTHS golfers in the top 10 individual medalists were Anshutz, who shot 45 for 6th, and Braegan Buessing, who shot 44 for 3rd.

On Aug. 28, SFTHS competed in the Ottawa Open at Ottawa Great Life; competing were Bailey Anshutz, Braegan Buessing, Ashley Masters, Shelby Garrison, Taylor Long, Claire Greenfield.

Out of 53 competitors, SFTHS had two top 10 individual medalists., Buessing, with a score of 42, took 6th, and, and Anshutz took 3rd, shooting 39.

Aug. 31, SFTHS hosted a 2-person JV Scramble with Gardner and Osage City, which provided competition experience with new friendship opportunities. SFT girls took second place.

The Lady Charger golf team participated Sept. 6, in the West Franklin 9-Hole Golf Tournament, held at LaMont Hill Golf Course. SFTHS placed 2nd as a team out of nine teams. Earning congratulations for the win were Braegan Buessing, Bailey Anshutz, Ashley Masters, Taylor Long and Shelby Garrison.

SFTHS’s individual medalists in the tournament included Anshutz in 4th place, shooting 46, and Buessing at 2nd place with a 44.

Melvern Outlet River Pond remains on blue-green algae watch list

Update: Melvern Outlet River Pond remains on the state’s watch list for blue-green algae as of today, Aug. 25, 2023.

MELVERN, Kan. – The blue-green algae advisory for Melvern Outlet River Pond has been downgraded to a watch as of Aug. 4, 2023. The water body had previously been under a warning status.

Under a blue-green algae watch, people are advised to avoid harmful algal blooms which may look like foam, scum or paint floating on the water and be colored blue, bright green, brown or red. Blooms can develop rapidly; if the water appears suspicious or there is decaying algae on the shore, avoid contact and keep dogs away.

The toxins from blue-green algae can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation of aerosols, and skin contact. Symptoms vary depending upon the type of exposure but can include rash, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, and headache.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment investigates publicly accessible bodies of water for blue-green algae when the agency receives reports of potential algae blooms in Kansas lakes. Based on credible field observation and sampling results, KDHE reports on potentially harmful conditions.

Anyone or any dog that comes in contact with algae should rinse the area with clean, fresh water. Suspected HAB-related health incidents, whether human or animal, regardless of season, should be reported at kdhe.ks.gov/1163. For information about blue-green algae and reporting potential harmful algal blooms, see kdhe.ks.gov/HAB.

Kansas ag department confirms West Nile virus cases in horses across state

Recommends horse vaccinations against possible fatal virus

MANHATTAN, Kansas — 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 Barber, Butler, Douglas and Pratt 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. If you see symptoms of WNV in your horse, contact your 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.

Spring 2023, trail cameras prohibited on KDWP-managed lands

PRATT, Kan. – Over the past several years, staff with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks have fielded an ever-increasing amount of public concerns regarding the use of trail or game cameras on public lands. Concerns cited by the public commonly included the ethics of “fair chase,” issues of theft, and privacy concerns. After much deliberation – including seven public meetings held over the course of two years – Kansas Wildlife and Parks commissioners voted this year to prohibit trail cameras on KDWP lands and waters, including walk-in hunting access and IWIHA properties (private lands leased by KDWP for public hunting access).

“As the number of trail cameras on the landscape increased, so did the number of reports made by constituents citing camera theft and misuse,” said Ryan Stucky, KDWP Public Lands assistant director. “There were also concerns about trail camera users disturbing wildlife with frequent visits to check on those cameras.”

As a result, KDWP staff and commissioners agreed the regulation change, which is now in effect as of April 21, 2023, should state that no person shall place, maintain, or use a trail or game camera on department lands, or use any images or video from a trail or game camera including location, time, or date, for any purpose on KDWP lands and waters.

KDWP defines trail or game cameras as any remote motion-activated or infrared camera in which the shutter is activated by sound triggers, proximity sensation, radio transmitters, or a self-timer built into the trail or game camera.

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