WEEK OF JUNE 26, 2003
WEEK OF JUNE 19, 2003
WEEK OF JUNE 12, 2003
WEEK OF JUNE 5, 2003
Oklahoma landowners to conserve imperiled species under new grant program
For decades Oklahoma landowners have been leading the way in conserving critical habitat and recently the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced a series of grants designed to assist landowners in those efforts. Five different grants totaling more than $643,000 were awarded to individuals and groups to undertake conservation projects on private lands for threatened and other at-risk species.
“It is certainly no secret that Oklahoma has a fantastic diversity of plants and animals,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It’s also no secret that private landowners are the key to the conservation of natural resources in Oklahoma. The Private Stewardship Grant program is a great tool for forming partnerships and conserving habitats across the state.”
The Private Stewardship Grants Program provides federal grants on a competitive basis to individuals and groups engaged in voluntary conservation efforts on private lands that benefit federally listed endangered or threatened species, candidate species or other at-risk species. Under this program, private landowners as well as groups working with private landowners are able to submit proposals directly to the Service for funding assistance. President Bush has requested funding of $10 million for this program in 2004.
The High Plains Rural Conservation and Development Council, a landowner-based group covering Beaver, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Roger Mills and Woodward counties, received a grant totaling $250,000. The funds are designed to assist private landowners who voluntarily wish to restore 40,020 acres of habitat for High Plains species-at-risk and other grassland species in northwest Oklahoma. This project will assist in meeting conservation priorities for several species including the lesser prairie chicken, black-tailed prairie dog, interior least tern, Arkansas River shiner, mountain plover, Oklahoma phlox, ferruginous hawk and burrowing owl.
The Wild Turkey Center received a $220,841 grant for a riparian habitat improvement project in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. The project will work cooperatively with private landowners along the Canadian River to improve 6,000 acres of riparian habitats. The project will involve control of invasive plant species, tree planting to supplement existing native vegetation, revegetation of denuded areas, fencing out riparian zones, and establishing or improving grazing systems.
The Comanche Pool Prairie Resource Foundation and the High Plains Partnership of Kansas and Oklahoma received a $100,000 grant. This project will continue a rancher-led initiative that has a proven record of success in enhancing mixed-grass and prairie stream habitat for species at risk, such as the candidate black-tailed prairie dog and lesser prairie chicken and the federally listed Arkansas River shiner and Arkansas darter. Participating ranchers will draw from a variety of resource management tools including altered grazing management, prescribed burning, cutting of invasive woody species and stream restoration to improve habitat for targeted prairie species at risk. By actively encouraging ranchers to assist other ranchers in making improvements, good conservation practices for species at risk will continue to expand over a large multi-county area.
Great Eastern Timber Company Timber Partnership received a $44,000 grant for stream habitat projects in Pushmataha and LeFlore counties. The project will replace existing bridge structures over Honobia Creek to improve stream hydrology and remove fish migration barriers for the federally endangered leopard darter.
The Nature Conservancy received a grant totaling $28,850 to fund Ozark big-eared bat conservation efforts in Delaware and Adair counties. The project will work to improve the habitat around the hibernation and maternity caves used by the bats and reduce human disturbance of the bat colonies by restricting access to those caves.
Don’t Forget Free Fishing Days
It’s not too late - take a neighbor, take a family member, just take somebody to a fishing hole near you. The weekend of June 7-8 is designated as Free Fishing Days in Oklahoma. The event is a perfect opportunity to introduce someone to the joy of fishing.
State fishing licenses are not required on the free fishing days, although anglers should note that local or municipal permits may be required on those days.
Not all out-of-town visitors to Oklahoma are welcome.
Fisheries biologists have recently discovered zebra mussels in Oologah Lake in northeast Oklahoma. According to Barry Bolton, assistant fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the size of the colonies found indicates the mussels were likely introduced into Oologah Lake last year.
These small, rapidly-growing, non-native mussels can cluster together in colonies of hundreds of thousands per square meter. They can alter native ecological systems and disrupt water withdrawal operations by clogging intake pipes.
Zebra mussels also affect recreation activities, Bolton added, the mussels could cause engines to overheat by accumulating in water intakes of inboard and outboard boat motors. Boats should not be left in infested water for extended periods of time. The mussels attach quickly to boat hulls and can affect boat-handling capability, reduce fuel efficiency, and slow speed.
“Unfortunately, there is no feasible means to eradicate zebra mussels from a lake once they have become established,” Bolton said. “However, we can take precautions to help prevent the spread of zebra mussels. Probably the most important thing you can do is to wash your boat and flush boat motors with clean water every time you travel to a different lake.”
Most zebra mussels are thumbnail size, but can grow up to two inches long. They are usually found in water down to 30 feet deep. They have an elongated, "D"-shaped, thin shell with a black and white stripes. Unlike native mussels that burrow in sand and gravel, zebra mussels spend their adult lives attached to objects such as rocks, metal, wood, plastic, concrete, aquatic plants, and even the shells of native mussels and crayfish.
For more information about zebra mussels or to see a picture of one, log on to the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. If you think you may have found a zebra mussel, contact one of the following offices: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s northeast region office at (918) 683-1031 Corps of Engineers Tulsa District Office at (918) 669-7411.
Outdoor Calendar brimming with activities
No reason to be bored this summer, there is a myriad of adventures just waiting for adventurous Oklahomans.
The Outdoor Calendar at www.wildlifedepartment.com is just the place to find upcoming summer activities and events. Visitors to the Wildlife Department's official Web site can find out what outdoor-related activities are going on in their area. From noodling tournaments to bat watches to hunter education classes, a wide range of events is awaiting your discovery.
As the summer months move quickly toward fall there are several hunter education courses scheduled in many communities such as Owasso, Noble, Midwest City, and many other towns along the way.
A trip to northwest Oklahoma can be a fun summertime family destination. Travelers can spend an afternoon at Alabaster Caverns State Park and an evening participating in the popular Selman Bat Cave Watches. Thousands of bats pour out of the cave each evening to begin their nightly foray for insects. Participants are also given a natural history presentation from wildlife experts.
Teachers and other educators can begin preparing for the upcoming year by participating in one of the many Project WILD workshops. The classes, many of which can be taken for college credit, help teachers learn how to bring outdoor lessons into the classroom.
To find out what goes on after dark at the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, The Under of Cover Darkness tours are led by park naturalists and reveal the nocturnal habits of many of refuge inhabitants.
What better way to spend an afternoon than wetting a line at your favorite fishing hole. Youngsters can learn all about fishing by attending one of the many fishing clinics held throughout the state. The free clinics teach kids how to cast a rod and reel, tie fishing knots, fish identification and kids also get a chance to try out their new skills after the clinic.
To get more details about all these activities and more, log onto wildlifedepartment.com. If you have an upcoming outdoor event you would like considered for the Outdoor Calendar call Kristen Gillman at (405) 521-2085.
Ducks Unlimited supports Hunter Education program
Ducks Unlimited is not only supporting duck hunters in Oklahoma, they are supporting all sportsmen. Recently, the Oklahoma Chapter of Ducks Unlimited donated 20 BB guns to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Hunter Education program.
“Ducks Unlimited is proud to partner with the Hunter Education program,” said Herb Gunter, Oklahoma Greenwing chairman. “We hope this donation will help bring a new generation of youngsters into the sport of hunting.”
The BB guns will give participants in hunter education classes the opportunity to get out of the classroom, and have a hands-on experience in handling a rifle safely. The donation was made possible through the support of local Ducks Unlimited chapters across the state, specifically the Greenwings program. The Greenwing program is designed for youngsters under the age of 17 and is designed to encourage youth participation in hunting and wetland conservation. The program boasts over 1,200 members statewide.
“The Greenwing program is focused on facilitating youth involvement in conservation and the sport of hunting,” said Gunter. “We think this donation is a great match for what we are trying to do.”
Ducks Unlimited conserves, restores, and manages wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. DU is the world's largest private, non-profit, waterfowl and wetland conservation organization with more than 1 million supporters in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Since its inception in 1937, DU has conserved more than 9.4 million acres of waterfowl habitat throughout North America. DU supporters have raised nearly $1.6 billion for conservation since 1937.
For more information about Ducks Unlimited, call 1-800-45DUCKS or visit the web site at www.ducks.org.
Blue River is one of southern Oklahoma’s top destinations
Between I-40 and the Red River there is plenty to see and do for Oklahomans who love the outdoors. There is a little bit of everything available to summer travelers, from the cypress swamps of McCurtain County to the wind-swept Wichita Mountains. However, you would be hard-pressed to tell Sue Robins that there is a better relaxation destination than the Blue River Public Hunting and Fishing Area near Tishomingo.
“It is just such a beautiful place,” said Sue Robins, director of the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce. “Whether you like to fish, hunt, camp or just take a dip in the river, it’s a great spot to bring the family.”
Covering more than 3,000, acres the area attracts a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts, from trout fishermen and hunters in the fall and winter to campers and picnickers in the spring and summer. According to Robins, over 100,000 individuals visit the Blue River Public Hunting and Fishing Area each year.
“Folks in Johnston County have been hunting, fishing and relaxing at the Blue River for several generations,” said Robins. “We’re happy to able to share it with so many others. In fact, the Blue River Public Hunting and Fishing Area is our area’s biggest tourist attraction and is an important part of the local economy.”
Beginning July 1, non-hunting and non-angling visitors will need a Blue River Conservation Passport for entering or using the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area.
“We feel like the Blue River Conservation Passport will really help to conserve the area’s natural beauty,” Robins said.
This special use permit will be used to maintain camping locations, upkeep roads and manage fisheries and wildlife habitat. The Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area is one of the top trout fishing destinations in the winter and a favorite outdoor recreation place in the summer.
Residents and non-residents who hold valid annual or lifetime Oklahoma hunting or fishing licenses are exempt from purchasing the passport, which will cost $21. Exemptions will also be allowed for those under 18 years of age, students on educational tours and those participating in organized events sanctioned in advance by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Shortnose gar record broken
The Red River in southern Oklahoma recently yielded a new state record shortnose gar.
Dale Starry of McLoud took the 3-pound, 3.8-ounce fish while bowfishing Thursday, June 12, in the Red River near Lebanon, OK. The fish measured 29.25 inches long and is the new standard in the unrestricted (non rod and line) tackle division.
The record was weighed on certified scales at the Wildlife Department’s south central region office in Caddo. The weighing was witnessed by Robert Wichers, fisheries technician for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding state record fish consult the "2003 Oklahoma Fishing Guide." If you think you may have hooked a record fish it is important that you weigh the fish on a Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale and the weight is verified by a Wildlife Department employee.
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Bat Watch deadline approaching
Ever wondered what it’s like to see and to hear one million flying bats? You’ll find out this summer if you attend a Selman Bat Watch in northwestern Oklahoma, sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
With the bat watches limited seating and registration deadline of June 28 approaching, act quickly or be left wondering.
Two nights are already sold out.
The remaining Saturday and Sunday watch dates are filling quickly. Openings are still available for July 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 and Aug 1. Cost is $8.00 for adults (13+) and $5.00 for youth.
The special Nature at Night evening on Aug. 8 (adults 18 and over only) has four openings left. Cost is $20.
This natural event is not a common occurrence. Large colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats gather in select areas of the southwestern United States during the summer months.
The Selman Bat Cave is the only public viewing site in Oklahoma. Small-group interaction with wildlife biologists and trained volunteers enrich the experience.
Don’t miss this opportunity to view the nightly emergence of Mexican free-tailed bats. Check the calendar and make plans to attend.
Pre-registration is required. Call the Wildlife Diversity Program at (405) 424-0099 or visit www.wildlifedepartment.com, click on Watchable Wildlife then Selman Bat Cave to register.
Elk hunt auction deadline drawing near
Hunters have until July 1 to place their bid on the hunt of a lifetime. Hunters have a chance to bid on a fully guided bull elk hunt at Cookson Wildlife Management Area, and at the same time help needy Oklahomans in the process. For the fifth year in a row, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) is auctioning a bull elk hunt, and the proceeds will go to the Department’s Hunters Against Hunger program.
Through a sealed bid auction, the hunter with the top bid has successfully harvested a trophy bull for the past four years. Last year’s winner took a 6x7 bull. The hunt, which generated over $11,000 last year, is a guided three-day hunt anytime in September, October or November (subject to availability). The broken hills and rugged landscape of Cookson Hills will challenge even the seasoned elk hunter. Archery, muzzleloader or modern rifle equipment may be used. The minimum bid for this year’s hunt is $7,500.
Hunters who wish to submit a bid must supply their name, address, day and evening phone numbers with their bid amount on a notarized card or letter. Bids can be dropped off at ODWC headquarters or mailed to Oklahoma Auction Elk Hunt, P.O. Box 53465 Oklahoma City, OK 73152. All bids must be received at ODWC headquarters in Oklahoma City by 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 1. Bidding is open to individuals and organizations. The permit may be transferred one time by the successful bidder, but may not be transferred for financial gain. Payment must be received within 10 days of notification.
“Proceeds from the elk hunt auction will assist the Department’s Hunters Against Hunger program,” said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Department. “Through a network of statewide food banks that distribute donated venison to local shelters, the program has served meals to thousands of needy Oklahomans.”
For additional information about the Hunters Against Hunger program, consult the “2003-2004 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” or log onto the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
How are the fish biting? Call 1-800-ASK-FISH
Want to know where the fish are biting or where to find a near-by boat ramp or even how to get a fishing license? Oklahoma anglers can simply pick up the phone, call one number and get all the information they need to enjoy a day at the lake or stream.
The 1-800-ASK-FISH hotline, which was created in 1998, operates 24 hours a day providing anglers information on a wide variety of useful information such as weekly fishing reports, where to buy fishing licenses, regulations, boat ramp locations, and other information.
"1-800-ASK-FISH is a great service for both residents and visitors to Oklahoma. It’s great to be able to call one number and find out where to fish, what's biting, and how to get your licenses," said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The 1-800-ASK FISH program is a cooperative effort between the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the American Sportfishing Association and Bass Pro Shops.
Unique Project WILD workshops coming soon
If you have ever considered attending a Project WILD workshop, now is the time.
Project WILD is an award-winning conservation education program that gives state educators training and materials to assist them in teaching students about wildlife and the environment. The exciting curriculum helps teachers and youth leaders teach a wide range of subjects such as math, science, social studies, language arts and expressive arts while teaching about the importance of our environment at the same time.
“The Project WILD curriculum really has something to offer to everyone, from high school biology teachers to elementary art teachers to 4-H and Scout leaders,” said Lisa Anderson, Project WILD coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Although there are Project WILD workshops held throughout the year, there is a trio of unique opportunities coming soon, Anderson added.
“There are some really neat workshops coming up,” said Anderson. “If you have never participated in Project WILD, these workshops are a great opportunity to get the activity guide and learn more about Oklahoma’s wildlife.”
Northeast Oklahoma educators will want to attend a special workshop at the Har-Ber Village in Grove. The workshop will be held Tuesday, July 22 and is set near Grand Lake, one of the most scenic areas of the state. The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the cost is $10. To register for this workshop, contact Jan Norman at (918) 786-3488.
Those who like to multi-task will want to attend a series of workshops held at Camp DaKaNi in Oklahoma City. Educators can attend a Project Learning Tree (a curriculum focusing on forestry) workshop July 28, a Project WILD workshop July 29 and a Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) workshop July 30. Participants may attend any of the workshops for $10 each but if they sign up for all three, the cost is only $20. To request a registration form for this workshop, contact Lisa Anderson at (405) 990-1292.
A special overnight workshop will be held August 4 & 5 at the Oxley Nature Center in Tulsa. Educators will receive both the Project WILD and Project Learning Tree activity guides, in addition to learning about nocturnal wildlife. The cost is $20. To register for this workshop, contact Lynda Fritts at (918) 669-6649.
Oklahoma Project WILD conducts workshops statewide for educators or anyone who is interested in teaching kids about wildlife. At the workshop, participants receive two activity guides consisting of over 170 hands-on activities. Guides are only available by attending a workshop where participants actually do activities and learn more about Oklahoma’s wildlife.
Project WILD is designed for any age and any learning level. Classroom teachers, youth group leaders, naturalists, and park, zoo, and museum educators all will find the curriculum useful. The Oklahoma State Department of Education recognizes Project WILD workshops for professional development credit.
In Oklahoma, Project WILD is sponsored by the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. The workshop meets professional development credit requirements for teachers and also meets credit requirements for day care center in-services. Since its inception in 1984, over 19,000 educators have been trained in Project WILD.
Educators can learn more about Project WILD and view a list of upcoming workshops by logging onto the Department's official Web site: www.wildlifedepartment.com and clicking on the link for education programs.
New group formed to represent anglers across Oklahoma
Are you an angler concerned about the future of fishing in Oklahoma? Would you like to assist fisheries biologists on special projects across the state? Would you like to help pass fishing on to the next generation?
If your answer is yes to any of the above questions you will be excited to hear about a new fishing organization which has formed with the goal of becoming a strong, unified voice for anglers in the state.
Although still brand new, Oklahoma Anglers Unlimited already has several hundred members and over 40 fishing clubs and tournament trails involved. The non-profit group recently received tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service and is now taking applications for individual memberships.
“Our organization is open to all anglers, whether they are bass anglers, crappie anglers or just someone who likes to go pond fishing every once in a while,” said Doss Briggs, east central director for Oklahoma Anglers Unlimited.
The organization has a seven-member board of directors, with each member assigned to a specific region in the state.
“There have been a lot of people who have made the effort in establishing this organization to ensure that all anglers, in all parts of Oklahoma are represented so that their concerns and issues will be heard,” Briggs said.
According to Briggs, the group's purpose is to enhance fishing opportunities in Oklahoma, whether it be through habitat improvement, fisheries research or building boat ramps.
"The issues that are important to the anglers in the state and to the fisheries resources of Oklahoma are what's important to Oklahoma Anglers Unlimited and that’s where we intend to concentrate our efforts," Briggs said.
Fisheries personnel at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said they were pleased to hear about the establishment of this new grass roots organization.
“We are looking forward to working with Oklahoma Anglers Unlimited,” said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department. “It is great that they are working hard to represent all groups of anglers in the state and we feel like this organization has the potential to have a very positive influence on the fisheries resources in the state.”
The group has hit the ground running and is already involved with state and federal fisheries officials in a Lake Texoma study on the effects of catch and release largemouth bass fishing, Briggs said.
To learn more about Oklahoma Anglers Unlimited log on to their Web site at www.oauinfo.org There you will find a brief mission statement, downloadable membership form, contact info for district directors and much more. Annual memberships are only $10 and each new member will receive a membership card and an OAU decal for their vehicle.