MANHATTAN, Kan. – Reflecting Kansas landowners’ complex and sometimes conflicting modern environment, the Kansas Forest Service has invited a host of partners to assist with a new kind of field day Thursday, May 10.
The program’s lofty goal is to help landowners manage their ag operations, resident wildlife and woodlands successfully – while also protecting and improving the water quality of streams and ponds.
The site for the 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. field day is Bob Henderson’s 3,000-acre Flat Rock Ranch, about 40 miles south of Emporia and 70 miles east-northeast of Wichita. Its rolling terrain includes native grasslands, savannas, wetlands, 500 acres of cropland, and the woodlands that surround West Creek.
“Those who met Bob Henderson before he retired as K-State’s Extension wildlife specialist won’t be surprised that he’s raising more than beef,” said Bob Atchison, KFS rural forestry program coordinator. “He’s got a working ranch that also offers tremendous hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching opportunities.”
Henderson’s location and management have created gradual and varied transitions from one vegetative type to another, Atchison said. Those kinds of transitions increase wildlife habitat quality and diversity, and they’ll be an underlying topic for several field day sessions. Quail and deer habitat will get special emphasis.
Using livestock grazing and controlled fires to restore native grasses will be another focus. Maintaining water quality and aquatic habitat on a working ranch will be a discussion that includes ideas about limiting cattle access to ponds and using alternative watering methods, including solar pumps.
Teaming with KFS foresters to lead the day’s educational sessions will be experts from Oklahoma State University, K-State Research and Extension, the Quality Deer Management Association, Oak Grove Fabrication, and the Kansas Rural Center. Frontier Farm Credit personnel will grill the main course at lunch.
Kansans can get additional information or register to attend the field day by calling the Kansas Forest Service (785-532-3300) or emailing Bob Atchison. The registration deadline is May 7. A $10 registration fee will help cover the cost of lunch, refreshments and teaching materials.
The field day brochure is at Agroforestry, Water and Wildlife Field Day. It provides driving directions, a full program schedule, the “in case of rain” arrangements, and a complete listing of the sponsors and partners helping the Kansas Forest Service field this event.
“I always recommend that participants wear good walking shoes and a hat if the weather’s good. Some of our instructors may want to include up-close, real-life views of what they’re talking about,” Atchison said. “A portable chair can make this kind of field day more enjoyable, too – although I’ve heard people say that getting to meet and talk with other producers who have similar interests is one of the things they enjoy most.”