Commission approves increase in camping permit fees

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks commission passed regulations Thursday that will raise the fees paid for annual and long-term camping permits at state parks.

Mike Miller, Wildlife and Parks information chief, said commissioners approved the department's requests as had been discussed at previous meetings.

That means 2011 annual camping permits purchased April 1-Sept. 30 will be $250, a $100 increase from current rates.

Annual camping permits purchased Jan. 1-March 31 or Oct. 1-Dec. 31 will be $200, a $50 increase.

The lower prices from Jan. 1 to March 31 and Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 are to encourage early permit purchases and use of state parks in the fall and winter.

Long-term camping permits allow campers to stay on select sites for a month without changing locations.

The 2011 rates will see an increase of $40 at most state parks, bringing rates to $240 to $360, depending on utilities.

Long-term rates at El Dorado, Tuttle Creek and Milford state parks — three of Kansas' most popular — will increase $80. Rates will range from $280 to $400, depending on utilities.

Commissioners also approved a new multi-year hunting and/or fishing license for residents ages 16 to 20.

The licenses will allow young hunters or anglers a chance to purchase one hunting or fishing permit that's valid until they reach 21.

Rates are $40 for the new hunting or fishing licenses and $70 for a combination of the two.

Miller said it's hoped the price reduction and ease of already being licensed in coming years will encourage more young Kansans to hunt and fish.

The commission did not take action on a recommendation to offer Kansas deer hunters a reduced-rate package that included a permit that allowed the killing of any whitetail and another the killing of a whitetail without antlers.

Biologist Jim Pitman presented a proposal to increase the number of spring turkey permits in southwest Kansas to 500 for the 2011 season.

Though still allotted by draw, the increase could meet demand in that region.

Aquatic nuisance species biologist Jason Goeckler expressed concern that invasive species, like silver and bighead carp, could be transplanted from Kansas rivers to reservoirs by anglers using them for bait.

Should that happen, the fish could out-compete native fish for food and space. A tendency to jump when boats pass could see 20- to 50-pound silver carp injuring boaters and skiers.

Proposals for more restrictive regulations concerning obtaining and transporting bait are expected at future meetings.

The next meeting is Jan. 6 in Lawrence. For more information call 620-672-5911 or go to www.kdwp.state.ks.us.