State considers managing federal parks

10/21/2012 8:05 AM

10/21/2012 8:06 AM

Robin Jennison, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary, wants his organization to start managing parks owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Jennison told Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commissioners such an arrangement could help state parks and the federal government.

“The reality of it is, the federal government is looking for ways to save money,” Jennison said during Thursday’s commission meeting. “If we could manage their parks like they’re our own, it could be to their advantage and our advantage.”

Jennison said he’s in early discussions with Corps of Engineer officials.

Currently, the Corps of Engineers manages campgrounds at several Kansas lakes, including Marion Reservoir.

Jennison said the federal campgrounds are competition for Kansas state parks, and often have better locations and lower rates.

He’s not sure if the federal parks would be leased by Wildlife and Parks, or if they’d be given to the state.

The concept is also being discussed in other states.

Jennison said the federal agency approached Kansas state parks about 20 years ago about making a similar arrangement, but was defeated by Corps of Engineer employees and campers who preferred the federal park pricing.

Also at Thursday’s meeting at Flint Oak:

•  Commissioners voted to allow anglers to transport bluegill and green sunfish they’ve caught for bait, if the fish aren’t from waters with invasive species.

Last year the commission voted to outlaw the transportation of any angler-caught bait, unless it was to be used in waters where it was caught.

•  A new regulation was approved that requires anglers to possess a receipt from where they purchase bait fish.

Currently only bait dealers that are certified to be selling bait free of diseases and/or invasive species are allowed to sell minnows in Kansas.

Doug Nygren, Wildlife and Parks fisheries chief, said anglers coming from other states would also be affected by the new law.

Citations could be issued to anglers not possessing receipts, and anglers who purchased bait from out-of-state dealers that don’t meet Kansas standards.

• Commissioners approved the consumption of a wide-range of alcoholic beverages on department lands. Previously, only beer with no more than 3.2-percent alcohol could be consumed in state parks and other properties.

The agency retains the right to post areas where no alcohol can be consumed.

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