Kansas Forest Service to host Agroforestry Field Day
With the current drought in Kansas, it is important for landowners, farmers, ranchers and natural resource professionals to focus on conservation and management.
On May 8, the Kansas Forest Service will host the 2013 Agroforestry Field Day in Trego County to educate participants on current issues facing agroforestry in Kansas.
The field day, located near WaKeeney, Kan., on the farm of Dave and Mary Hendricks, will focus on the wildlife habitat the Hendricks have created through planting and renovating windbreaks and establishing native grass and wildflower plantings. Suggestions on row removal, selective thinning, watering and establishing additional tree rows will be provided.
The Hendrickses are known throughout western Kansas for their wildlife habitat and conservation achievements. The couple will be recognized by the Kansas Forestry Association and the Kansas Forest Service as recipients of the 2013 Kansas Agroforestry Award. The award is presented to landowners who do an exceptional job implementing agroforestry practices on their property such as riparian forest buffers and shelterbelts.
With the current drought stressing windbreaks throughout western Kansas becoming a challenge, Jim Strine and Bob Atchison, Kansas Forest Service foresters, will provide tips on how to maintain and renovate older windbreaks and shelterbelts using one of the many windbreaks the Hendricks have on their property. Participants also will receive the latest information on financial assistance available to implement windbreak renovation projects.
Stacie Edgett-Minson, K-State Research and Extension watershed specialist, will share her knowledge of water quality and quantity issues and offer suggestions to participants on practices to implement.
Burning the prairie helps ensure the health of grass and range lands. Unfortunately, many landowners are hesitant to burn or do not plan adequately. Windbreaks on the Hendricks’ farm have been damaged by wildfire for that very reason. Michele Witecha, Kansas Forest Service wildlife ecologist and rangeland fire specialist, will provide a session on how to develop a burn plan that accomplishes specific management interests while lowering the risk of wildfire potential.
Nikki Opbroek, Kansas Forest Service forest health specialist, will offer an update on potential health threats to trees and shrubs (including drought) and provide both diagnosis and control recommendations for the major tree problems people encounter in western Kansas. Foresters will also provide suggestions on appropriate tree and shrub species to plant in the Trego County area.
Mule deer have a different set of habitat requirements compared to upland birds and are regular visitors to the Hendricks farm. Dave Hendricks will show participants how windbreaks can be used as a fawning area for mule deer and discuss how landowners can encourage mule deer habitat on their properties.
Winners of the 2012 Kansas Wildlife Federation’s, Land and Soil Wildlife Conservationist award, Randy Rogers and Helen Hands will provide both the landowner as well as the professional wildlife biologist perspective on how to improve habitat for upland birds. Last season hunters harvested an estimated 475,000 pheasants and this year’s numbers are down by almost 50 percent.
With a population decline of more than 90 percent since settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened or endangered species. Mark Witecha, a Pheasants Forever biologist, will be on hand to discuss the habitat needs of this important species and suggest conservation practices that foster lesser prairie chicken and other important grassland birds.
Registration for the field day will begin at 8 a.m. A hot lunch will be provided as part of a $10 registration fee. To register, checks should be written to Kansas State University, and mailed to the Kansas Forest Service, Agroforestry Field Day, 2610 Claflin Road, Manhattan, KS 66502-2798. More information about the field day may be obtained by calling Bob Atchison, rural forestry coordinator, at 785-532-3310 or by checking out the News and Events section on their website at www.kansasforests.org.
Designing windbreaks to provide fawning areas for mule deer will be one of several educational sessions taught at the 2013 Agroforestry Field Day.