New Quivira director on job

Through his 19 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mike Oldham had heard great things from the Dakotas southward about the group’s wildlife refuges. Now he’s getting paid to see for himself.

Oldham, 42, has been Quivira National Wildlife Refuge manager for about two weeks. The native of northern New Mexico comes from the manager’s position at the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge along the Colorado River, with lands in California and Arizona. With only a few thousand Canada geese using refuge in the fall and winter, Oldham’s anxious to see the legendary flocks of geese, cranes and ducks that have often totaled a million or more birds at Quivira in November and December.

Oldham said he’s hoping to experience some of everything the refuge and surrounding area has to offer, including fishing, hunting, wildlife watching and photography.

“All of our family will enjoy it,” he said. “We’re all outdoorsy types. My kids have grown up with it and known (the outdoors) since they were born.”

After spending a few more days learning the office portion of his new job, Oldham is anxious to get out and start learning the fun part of the refuge, especially the marshes and prairie.

Oldham insists its way too early in his new job to start talking about specific management plans.

“Just because I’m here doesn’t mean you’ll see a lot of changes,” he said. “If a program’s running right, I always think why change it?”

His arrival comes near the tail end of the refuge’s 10-year management plan process. For about two years, Fish and Wildlife staff have been researching current programs and considering others, while talking with the public and conservation organizations.

Oldham said a comprehensive management plan has been designed and is going through internal review. He predicted more meetings for public education and comment will be announced for sometime this fall.

Lakes still hold algae — The calendar and temperatures may be saying it’s fall, but some local lakes still hold deadly algae that got its start in the hot and dry summer.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued a public health warning at Chisholm Creek Park North Lake and Harvey County East Lake because of dangerous levels of blue-green algae.

Harvey County West Lake and McPherson State Fishing Lake have drawn health advisories because of the algae that can cause sickness in humans and death in pets.

Direct contact with such water should be avoided and should not be ingested. Fish may be kept from such waters, and are safe to eat if the skin is removed. Hands should be carefully washed after cleaning fish.