Skip

Grazing Coalition Active in Eastern Kansas

Grazing Coalition Active in Eastern Kansas

by Tim Christian, Executive Director
Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition
Hutchinson, Kansas

The Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition (KGLC) and its affiliated regional grazing groups (RGGs) have partnered with a variety of agencies and organizations to promote rangeland health and enhance wildlife habitat in the eastern half of Kansas. The KGLC, a Kansas non-profit organization, has a membership including individuals, groups, other non-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies. The vision of the KGLC is “regenerating Kansas grazing lands.” Its mission is “to regenerate Kansas grazing land resources through cooperative management, economics, ecology, production, education, and technical assistance programs.”

Smoke management planning was the subject of a series of public meetings at several Flint Hills locations this past winter. Eighty-three people attended sessions in Howard, Madison, and Westmoreland. KGLC and the Kansas Prescribed Fire Council (KS PFC) organized and held the meetings with local planning help. The federal Clean Air Act charges the Environmental Protection Agency with seeing that each state develops a Smoke Management Plan to help ensure that established air quality standards are met. In Kansas, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is the agency responsible for drafting this plan and it covers just the Flint Hills. That planning process was initiated this past year by KDHE. You can follow the progress of this planning process and find the plan online at http://www.kdheks.gov/bar/air-monitor/flinthills.html. Neodesha-area rancher Randy Small is integrally involved in this activity as a member of the KS PFC steering committee and a KGLC Board member. Also involved with the winter smoke management informational meetings and board workings is Bill Edwards, Olsburg.

KGLC hosted a tour for the Kansas Technical Committee (KTC) in early June on the Haines Ranch north of Manhattan. The KTC is an advisory group made up of over 60 members that provide input to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA). The tour highlighted brush control efforts completed and underway by Bill Haines. Brush control with herbicides, mechanical methods, and the use of prescribed fire has been completed under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and with landowner funds. On-site opportunities provide KTC members with a better understanding and first-hand observation of specific practices that programs fund.

The Tallgrass Legacy Alliance (TLA) is an active regional grazing group that encompasses the Flint Hills region of Kansas. KGLC assists TLA as it works to achieve its mission. Its membership is concerned with the preservation and improvement of the tallgrass prairie. The TLA is a Kansas non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. A recent achievement for the group was the announcement of the Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area by U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. This is a conservation easement program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The Legacy program will offer over time easements up to 1.1 million acres to permanently protect the tallgrass prairie through voluntary, perpetual easements with private landowners.

The TLA has a new website, http://tallgrasslegacy.org/, and has a part-time coordinator, Roger Wells, 620-443-5834. TLA activities include smoke management planning, control of serecia lespedeza, greater prairie-chicken habitat, prescribed burning including patch burning, energy development, and the ever present developmental pressures that are encroaching and fragmenting the Flint Hills and the tallgrass prairie.

This year the Sproul Ranch, owned by TLA members Bill and Peggy Sproul, Sedan, was a 2010 regional Environmental Stewardship Award winner, representing Region VII of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. The Sprouls operate a cow-calf and stocker custom grazing operation on native tallgrass prairie rangeland in the Kansas Flint Hills. The Sprouls have had a busy year. In early October, Kansas and the Sproul Ranch hosted a meeting of the Partners for Conservation, info@partnersforconservation.org, a group of ranchers and agencies promoting rangeland health in the western half of the U.S. The Sprouls are active members of this conservation organization of private landowners dedicated to preserving working landscapes for future generations. Sproul is also a member of several other organizational boards including the Ranchland Trust of Kansas. At the KGLC annual meeting in October 2010 at Beaumont, Bill was elected chairman of the KGLC for a two-year term.

The Kansas Graziers Association (KGA), with support from the Kansas Rural Center (KRC), is a partnering organization with the KGLC. Mary Howell, KGA secretary, works with ranchers and graziers around the state and works with Watershed Restoration And Protection Strategy (WRAPS) groups primarily in northeast and north-central Kansas to promote grazing management and water quality improvement. She has also been appointed to serve on the KGLC Board of Directors representing KGA. Mary can be contacted at 785-363-7306 or email, Marshallcofair@networksplus.net. KGA holds an annual winter grazing conference that KGLC helps sponsor and promote.

An Eastern Kansas Grazing Conference was initiated and hosted by the KRC, September 8-9, 2010, at the Douglas County fairgrounds in Lawrence. The focus of this conference was cool-season, tame-grass pasture management in the eastern one-third of the state. While not directly a KGLC activity, the KGLC hopes to partner with the KGA and the KRC in future years to promote this conference and the management of cool-season, tame-grass pastureland in Kansas.

The Tallgrass Adult Range School was hosted by the KGLC in mid-August 2010 at White Memorial Camp located at Council Grove Reservoir. Twenty-eight participants enjoyed the beautiful surroundings of the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie. The school is a partnership effort including the NRCS, USFWS, Kansas State University (KSU) Research and Extension, Kansas Section Society for Range Management, and the Kansas Native Plant Society (KNPS). NRCS and KSU Research & Extension personnel provide the bulk of the instruction along with KNPS and other KGLC partners. The USFWS provided each participant with a copy of Kansas wildflowers and grasses plant identification book funded through their Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. Native rangeland plant identification (grasses and wildflowers), grazing management strategies, wildlife habitat enhancement, inventory and monitoring of rangeland annual production, along with livestock husbandry were major topics of instruction for the three-day school.

Major areas of interest this coming year for the regional grazing groups in the eastern half of Kansas will focus on smoke management planning, grassland bird habitat, water quality management, prescribed burning, invasive woody species (eastern red cedar, etc.), control of serecia lespedeza, and grazing management strategies.

In 2011, KGLC looks forward to assisting and providing help to strengthen the existing regional grazing groups as mentioned, and to possibly establishing another grazing group in northeast Kansas in partnership with the KGA.

Persons interested in grassland management or in organizing a regional grazing group are invited to contact the KGLC via our Web site, www.kglc.org, or contact Tim Christian, Coordinator, at 620-241-3636.

This article is also available in Microsoft Word format.

Grazing Coalition Active in Eastern Kansas (DOC; 41 KB)