Michael Pearce

Kansas’ Arkansas River gains national distinction

The Arkansas River, from Great Bend to the Oklahoma border, has been named a National Water Trail by the U.S. National Park Service. It was one of three rivers so designated last week, and joins the Kansas River as one of the few National Water Trail streams in the nation, according to Jessica Mounts, of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

“That’s a pretty big deal. It’s an honor,” said Mounts who has helped organize communities, state agencies and conservation groups to improve access on the river. “It’s a competitive process and you have to demonstrate a long-term commitment to making the water trail something special, something that will last.”

Mounts said the Arkansas is one of three Kansas rivers deemed “navigable,” meaning the public has access to the water and shoreline that goes to a “normal high water mark.” The Kansas and Missouri rivers are the other two navigable rivers in the state. All other streams and rivers are considered private property, and the public may not cross private property to access a navigable river without permission.

Mounts said one of the biggest goals of groups promoting the Arkansas River as a recreational destination has been creating access points along the river. She said there are currently about 20 such access areas, often within small towns along the river. Mounts said Wildlife and Parks is currently working with such communities, the Kansas Department of Transportation and Westar Energy’s Green Team to improve access and signage to access locations. Improved maps and information are expected to be posted at www.travelks.com/arkrivertrail soon.

Other updates

Reports on some online hunting forums indicate many non-residents were inadvertently issued two “any deer” permits for the upcoming deer seasons. Wildlife and Parks personnel are investigating the matter, looking into the extent of the duplications and how to best get the extra permits returned. Kansas law states hunters are only allowed one permit that allows the taking of an antlered buck per season, unless a second permit has been purchased through the commissioner’s tag process. Those seven permits are given to conservation groups, by drawing, for the purpose of fund raising.

Thursday evening, from 6:30-9 p.m., will be a free fly tying opportunity at the Great Plains Nature Center. Materials and instruction will be available for those who have little to no experience.

A reminder that there are only a few days left to apply for antelope permits in Kansas. Prices have gone up. Preference points, which can be purchased directly without applying for a permit, are now up to about $11.

The wheat harvest has just begun down along the Kansas/Oklahoma border. As it moves northward, we should get a better idea of this year’s potential pheasant crop. Biologists and landowners report hearing a lot of bobwhtie quail whistling around the countryside. Last year was one of the best Kansas quail seasons in decades. A good hatch this year could help make things really special.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have a feature on Jeff Rader, a guide/outfitter up at Glen Elder Reservoir. This is his 30th year in business up there. Some of the changes he’s had to make, and changes he’s seen in hunting and fishing, are quite something. Depending on the amount of space I may have an Outdoors notes section, which can be two or more brief bits of news on the outdoors.

Down the road I’d like to do a sizable feature on floating the Arkansas River, plus picking the five best floating opportunities in Kansas. I’m still waiting on water conditions to become stable so I can do a story on a guy who targets big flathead catfish with artificial lures. His watercraft is pretty surprising.

I’m still trying to find a window in my schedule when I can spend a few days at the only resort right at the edge of a federal reservoir in Kansas. It will happen, and hopefully within this month.

Michael’s world

OK, so for at least the past 10 years I’ve been really bothered by mosquitoes in our yard. We have a boggy ditch across the street, and a neighbor with enough mechanical clutter in his “yard” to hold many gallons of stale water and produce thousands of mosquitoes. In the past it had gotten so bad I couldn’t enjoy a dinner or visit on our deck with Kathy without a Thermacell burning. Some wet summers the bugs got so bad I’d either have to put two Thermacells in my garden, so I could work on vegetables, or wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves and a hat.

This year we gave serious consideration to hiring a pest control company to periodically spray our lawn, but we had concerns how it might impact our short-legged dachshund, Ruby Tuesday, and if would contaminate the food growing in our garden. So I did some looking online and the most common organic lawn spray I found listed is one of the simplest, and most unusual, sprays I’ve ever heard of.

The formula is one large, inexpensive bottle of blue, or green, mouthwash, three stale cans of beer and three cups of Epsom salts. Once all three ingredients are mixed enough to dissolve the Epsom salts, the liquid can be sprayed on the lawn. Our backyard is about 10,000 square feet so it took most of a double batch to get things covered. Since our cheapo pump sprayer may not have sprayed evenly I may not have gotten every blade of grass coated in spray.

Some online reports claim there mosquito problem was solved. Ours is not, but Kathy and I agree we’re dealing with a reduction of at least 80 percent. This weekend I may mix up another batch and spray the easement we have on two sides of our yard. In the past mosquitoes have flushed out of the easement like hornets from a disturbed hive.

Some online reports say such sprayings are good for 80 days. We’ll see.

Saturday is our 15th annual Wichita Eagle Kids Fishing Clinic at the Great Plains Nature Center, so I’ll be busy most of that day helping kids catch fish.

That will be a long day, but a fun day.


Michael Pearce