By STEVEN HAUSLER

shausler@dailynews.net

After 32 years, Steve Price, fisheries supervisor of the western region for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, will retire to enjoy more of the things he loves -- fishing, hunting and camping.

Price started with the agency in 1979 after taking his first job out of college with the state agency, then called the Kansas Fish and Game Commission, as a fisheries biologist at Webster.

Over the years, Price has seen a lot of changes, but recalls the Solomon River Trout Project as one of the most memorable projects he worked on.

"Fort Hays State University did a lot of research on that project, including an environmental assessment," Price said.

The project established a put-and-take fishery for rainbow trout in the South Fork of the Solomon River above Webster Reservoir.

"It was a fisheries opportunity that we never had here before in the western half of the state," he said.

FHSU students were involved in the studies that confirmed that the fish would stay in the zones where fishing access was best.

"The thing we were most concerned about was if the fish would stay in the zones we developed for anglers, and they did," he said.

When Price came to Kansas, he managed lakes at record-low levels on Webster, Kirwin and Keith Sebelius Reservoirs.

"They were low, at rock bottom and not that great -- just typical western Kansas fisheries," he said.

During the wet years in the 1990s, he had the opportunity to manage those same reservoirs as they experienced record high levels.

"The fisheries exploded and received national attention," Price said.

"I am lucky that I was able to experience both extremes," he said.

Price's last day is Sept. 16 at the Region 1 office in Hays where he worked as a supervisor since 2002.

"This is a heck of an agency to work for -- great people, dedicated hard-working individuals," he added.