KABT Spring Field Trip: Smoky Valley Ranch

Join us for a western Kansas adventure on the Smoky Valley Ranch and surrounding areas June 1-3!

https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/kansas/placesweprotect/smoky-valley-ranch.xml

Activities include:

– camping under a peaceful grove of cottonwoods along the Smoky Hill River.
– viewing prairie chicken leaks.
– viewing swift fox dens.
– hiking numerous chalk bluffs.
– observing ferruginous hawk nesting sites.
– seeing the numerous ranch management techniques utilized on the Smoky Valley Ranch.
– visiting Little Jerusalem and other cool sites.
– visiting several sites of historical significance including trails, springs, and a buffalo jump site.
– spotlighting the nightlife of the western KS prairies (may include black-footed ferrets)!
– catching stuff found under rocks.
– sitting around the campfire and discussing life (biology).
– and many others!

We will plan on camping on Friday and Saturday night. Most people arrive Friday evening with enough time to set up camp and possibly eat. There are hotels available in surrounding communities if camping is not your thing (Oakley, Deighton, or Scott City). For those that are camping, we do have access to restrooms and showers! We will NOT plan on meeting at a restaurant on Friday evening, but there are a few restaurants in Oakley if you want to eat before you come out. Plan on taking care of your own meals. We may find a place to eat on Saturday evening depending on where our travels take us. Fill up with gas in Oakley! God’s Country does not include many gas stations! The Smoky Valley Ranch is about 25 miles (1 hr) SSW of Oakley.

Updates: Other than dropping a pin on the campsite, I think I mentioned about everything you need to know above. You will need to take care of meals on your own Friday evening, Saturday breakfast and lunch, and Sunday morning. The plan is to find a place to share a meal on Saturday evening.

Make sure you bring plenty of water, bug spray, and sunscreen! It looks like the weather is cooperating and we will get a break from the heat… mid 80’s on Sat. and Sun. and around 60 for sleeping at night.

Bring flashlights (spotlights) if you have them for road cruising and ferret spotting on Saturday night. We will plan on eating supper on Saturday evening and taking it easy/resting/sleeping till around midnight. The best chance of seeing a black-footed ferret is from midnight till about 4:00 am!

Here’s the pin to the campsite: https://goo.gl/maps/zHyJxifBR3t

This is primitive camping! That being said, there is access to bathrooms and showers, just not in our immediate vicinity.

It would be great to have everyone check in on Friday evening at the campsite, but if you are not camping and going straight to your hotel room Friday night, we will plan on gathering at the campsite around 7:30 am Saturday morning, so that we can be on the road by 8 am.

Please ask questions in the comments as others may have the same questions.

Looking forward to seeing everyone this weekend!

Noah Busch

Cimarron National Grasslands (CNG) Field Trip Agenda

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After what sounds like a great scouting trip, Craig Ackerman and Jeff Calhoun have put together a great weekend (June 3-5) of adventures at the CNG. Here is the agenda for this weekends field trip. Mostly this is information on how to meet up with the group. Specific plans (when we’ll move from one site to the next, what sites we’ll see next, etc.), will be largely based on time and interest when we’re on the move. The information below does tell you how to meet us Friday night, Saturday morning, and Saturday at lunch. And if all else fails, feel free to give Craig Ackerman a call at 620-272-1944.

Also included are some suggested items to bring and things to keep in mind. Hope you can make it!

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** Map links are in parenthesis!

Meeting Friday:

There is a restaurant just off the main highway into Elkhart, KS. If you pull into the El Rancho Motel parking lot, you’ll see it to your right (goo.gl/7wGUIq). We’ll start dinner around 6 for those who can make it. After dinner on Friday, we’ll head to the water treatment area for Elkhart to see some cool birds enjoying the water (goo.gl/mP42zO). After that we’ll head to our campground which is pretty close to the Cottonwood Picnic Area at the Cimarron National Grassland (CNG) (goo.gl/xA2m2s). The camping area we’re hoping to use is on a dirt path called turkey trail (decent tree coverage for the area (goo.gl/0IVslj). After you pass the Cottonwood Picnic Area, take 798-B until you see the KABT banner. Friday night would be great time to drive around CNG and see what nocturnal animals we can find. There are bathrooms within a 1/2 mile of the campsite, but none at the actual site, so plan accordingly.

Saturday Plans:

For those who come down on Saturday, here are the best ways to find us.
After everyone is up and around on Saturday we’ll probably head up to Point of Rocks first (goo.gl/XZ6MfJ). Third highest point in Kansas. Can actually see the site as you drive into CNG. Depending on the time, we might head in one of two directions, but we figured the best place for lunch (noonish to 1) would be at a picnic area known as middle spring (goo.gl/vWKIcj). After lunch, there are multiple spots we can visit, and we’ll probably play things by ear in terms of how we are doing on time, the interest of the group, etc. Saturday night would be another opportunity to find nocturnals, or just relax.

Sunday Plans:

Pack up and head home! 🙂

Suggestions for the trip:

Water!! It will be pretty warm and they do not have drinking water on the grasslands.

Food! Other than Friday evening, food is on you (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks on Saturday). The area we are planning for lunch does have campground grills if you would like to try your luck at grilling there. 🙂

Binoculars!! (According to Jeff Calhoun (someone who would know), this is a great area for spotting birds). 🙂

Sunscreen

Insect repellent (really wasn’t too bad though)

Boots (cacti in some of the area’s we’ll be walking)

Snake hook (came across a good size rattlesnake last weekend (peaceful though))

Nets (we’ll stop by some stock tanks full of water and larva (frog, salamander, etc.))

Sea of Grass brochure from the US Forest Service on CNG. Has some nice info on the area and a pretty decent map! http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5261822.pdf

Eastern Kansas Folks driving in on Friday:
If you have the time, either take a little detour or just look at your window when you drive by the Cheyenne Bottoms. Looking pretty good from all the rain we’ve gotten lately!

If I’m forgetting something, please let me know and I’ll add it to the document!

KABT Spring Field Trip: June 3-5

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up… Craig Ackerman and Pat Lamb are meeting up with Jeff Calhoun at Cimarron National Grasslands (CNG) this weekend to put together the agenda for the June 3rd – 5th KABT Spring Field Trip. I know the details are going to be last minute, but hopefully many of you have blocked that time out of your summers and are making carpool plans to visit the SW corner of our state! Look for details following this weekend.

imagePhoto by Mike Blair

2016 KABT Winter Board Meeting

SAVE THE DATE!

What:  2016 KABT Winter Board Meeting.

When:  Saturday, Jan. 16th, 9am – 3pm

Where:  Baker Wetlands Discovery Center (1365 N. 1250 Rd., Lawrence, KS)

Who:  This is a meeting of the KABT executive council (see below), but any/all KABT members are welcome.

Note:  I will make another FB post closer to the meeting date for the purposes of organizing the pot-luck lunch.

Executive Council:  President – Noah Busch, President-Elect – Drew Ising, Vice President – Kelley Tuel, Secretary – Kelly Kluthe, Treasurer; – Michael Ralph, Region 1 Rep – TBA, Region 2 Rep – Craig Ackerman, Region 3 Rep – Eric Kessler, Region 4 Rep – Jesi Rhodes, At-Large Reps – Lisa Volland, Bill Welch, Chris Ollig, & Kylee Sharp, Past President – Julie Schwarting, & Historian – Stan Roth.

The 2015 KABT Fall Conference Is Here!!!

2015 KABT Fall Conference Agenda

We’ve got a fantastic group of scientists and educators ready to engage teachers in conversation and action during our 2015 Fall Conference at the Konza Prairie Biological Station on September 12th! Make plans to join us!

Registrations is $35.  This includes participation in all Conference events, 1 year full paid KABT membership, & a meal.