Agency in no rush to change signs

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

In another month, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks will be adding "and Tourism" to its name, a move that will necessitate a lot of changes -- at least in terms of the number of signs the department puts before the public.

There's a series of signs at the entrance into the 24 state parks, big limestone posts that hold wooden planks.

KDWP Secretary Robin Jennison has looked at a couple of those signs and is hopeful there's some way to pull the planks out so the new division can be added on to the signs.

He's not overly optimistic just yet, but he's also not too concerned.

He's also not too concerned about rushing to replace the hundreds, if not thousands, of signs that mark other locations, such as the Walk-in Hunting Areas that are so popular.

Currently, about a million acres of land is enrolled in the WIHA program, or about 2,000 different tracts of land, according to Mike Miller, chief of KDWP's information division in Pratt.

There's also spring walk-in hunting areas and special hunts. There's also the refuge and public hunting signs at the state parks.

Not to worry, Jennison said, there won't be a wholesale rush to change the signs.

Instead, signs will be changed as they are upgraded or when new signs are needed.

"All the new stuff will come out that way," Jennison said of reflecting the new name of the agency.

The tourism department, now in the Department of Commerce, will be folded over into the KDWP office in Topeka, which will require some adjustments in the building there.

But Jennison figures the department will save money, even with the construction, over what it might cost in rent that would be paid at its current location.

Unrelated to the merger, KDWP also will be changing its logo, away from the buffalo head in the center of the agency's name.

"The state has done that for us," Jennison said of the agency logo.

In fact, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has done that for all state agencies, mandating that everyone use the same logo, one developed by the Kansas Department of Commerce. It is simply the word Kansas, topped by a banner with the state's motto, Ad Astra per Aspera -- to the stars with difficulty. It is, essentially, the banner located at the top of the state seal.

The new logo will replace KDWP's old logo as new equipment, such as trucks are replaced. Patches on clothing will be changed as well, as uniforms are replaced.

The new logo hasn't debuted just yet because of some font issues across state agencies. KDWP is working to get the agency's name -- in two lines, because it's so long -- underneath the Kansas.

"The buffalo will come off the trucks," Jennison said of the current logo displayed on agency vehicles.

Still, he's hoping the buffalo logo, which was first suggested by a member of the agency's commission, will survive in some form.

"The department has such a long history," he said of the buffalo being part of an identifying symbol. "And it is a Kansas symbol. At some point, I want to find a place for it."