By MIKE CORN
The current and ongoing drought in Kansas has made it difficult to forge ahead with many conservation practices aimed at benefitting wildlife.
Coping with some of those difficulties will be the focus of the annual agroforestry field day set for May 8 at the Dave and Mary Hendricks farm 7 miles west of WaKeeney.
Events at this year's field day will focus on improving wildlife habitat.
The Hendricks also will receive the 2013 Kansas Agroforestry Award from State Forester Larry Biles.
The award is presented to landowners who do an exceptional job implementing agroforestry practices on their property such as riparian forest buffers and shelterbelts.
The Hendricks will talk about their farm and what they've done to help wildlife conservation.
It's just one of several items on the agenda for the day, which runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Topics to be discussed include: health threats to trees, including an update on threats to trees and shrubs that go beyond the drought. Foresters will talk about the best tree and shrub species to plant in the Trego County area.
Dave Hendricks will talk about creating habitat for mule deer, displaying how windbreaks can be used as a fawning area.
Mark Witecha, a Ness City-based wildlife biologist with Pheasants Forever, will talk about lesser prairie chicken habitat, a timely topic considering the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering the possibility of adding the species to the federal endangered species list as threatened. Later in the afternoon, Witecha will talk about creating a burn plan for the prairie.
Jim Strine, the district forester based in Hays, and Bob Atchison, will talk about windbreak renovation, assessment and funding projects. They will demonstrate how to renovate a windbreak using one on the Hendricks' farm.
Stacie Edgett-Minson, a Kansas State University research and Extension watershed specialist, will talk about water quality and quantity issues and offer suggestions to participants on practices to implement.
Hays residents Randy Rodgers and Helen Hands will talk about managing for upland game birds from the landowners perspective. Both wildlife biologists, Rodgers and Hands recently were presented the 2012 Kansas Wildlife Federation's Land and Soil Wildlife Conservationist award.
Registration for the field day begins at 8 a.m. A hot lunch will be provided as part of a $10 registration fee.
To register, checks to Kansas State University should be mailed to the Kansas Forest Service, Agroforestry Field Day, 2610 Claflin Road, Manhattan, KS 66502-2798.