Utility rates for state park campers were increased at Thursday’s Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission meeting. Linda Lanterman, state parks director, said the increase is needed to off set the higher rates the parks are paying for the utilities.
The commission approved a $1.50 increase on daily utilities, no matter if the campers are using electricity, water, gas or all three. Daily rates increased from $7.50 to $9 for one, from $9.50 to $11 for two and from $10.50 to $12 for all three utilities.
Also approved was a $30.50 rate increase for monthly utility rates. At most state parks that means rates increased from $240 to $270.50 for one, $300 to $330.50 for two and $360 to $390.50 for all three.
At El Dorado, Milford and Tuttle Creek state parks, three of Kansas’ most popular, monthly utility rates increased from $280 to $310.50 for one, $340 to $370.50 for two and $400 to $430.50 for all three utilities.
The rate increases should go into effect within a few weeks.
Also at the meeting:
• The commission approved lowering the fall turkey season bag limit from four to one bird for most of Kansas, beginning with the 2014-15 season. Unit 2, in north-central Kansas, will retain the four-bird limit. Biologists said lowering the fall limit could bolster populations that are down about 30 percent in some regions.
• Lloyd Fox, Wildlife and Parks big-game program coordinator, began discussions on the upcoming Kansas deer seasons, predicting no changes from the current season frameworks. Concerns about the whitetail population in extreme southwest Kansas could lead to more conservative seasons and limits on antlerless whitetails in that region.
As they did in 2013, Fox said the department will again have a weekend firearms season in October for antlerless whitetails. Such a season was mandated last year by the Kansas legislature in hopes of reducing the state’s deer population.
“So far it’s been used by very few people,” Fox told commissioners. “It was not a popular season with hunters.”
• Matt Peek, Wildlife and Parks pronghorn biologist, said he’ll also recommend continuing with existing frameworks for this fall’s pronghorn seasons in western Kansas. At meetings last summer, Peek expressed concerns that archers, particularly those with crossbows, were killing too many pronghorns and that limitations might be warranted. He said results from the 2013 archery season showed numbers of hunters afield had dropped, and that crossbow success rates were in line with those hunting with other archery equipment.
• Commissioners drew for the seven special big-game permits that are awarded to conservation and shooting groups. Those groups then sell the permits, with most of the proceeds going back to conservation.
Keith Sexson, Wildlife and Park’s assistant secretary, said 99 groups applied for the seven permits this year, and about $320,000 had been raised by the program in the previous eight years. The lone annual elk permits have averaged around $9,000 and deer permits averaged $2,500 to $6,000.