Kansas: Wildlife and conservation bills spur strong emotions

Mar 31, 2014

Bill Johnson, right, has been working to get a conservation easement put on his property so a favored wetlands could never be drained and the land developed. A current bill could greatly hamper conservation easements in Kansas.
Credit Michael Pearce / kansas.com

Legislative action to revoke the Kansas Endangered Species Act and another bill to prevent landowners from locking their property indefinitely into conservation programs are firing up conservationists reported the Wichita Eagle.

Ron Klataske is the director of Audubon of Kansas.  He says some in the Kansas Legislature are “waging a war on wildlife and landscape conservation in Kansas.”  

On the other side, Sen. Greg Smith, R-Overland Park, says the bills are founded on solid reason.  He says things like endangered species should be managed by the state Legislature rather than the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.

“It can be a philosophical decision – should these things be in the hands of people elected by the state or by a bureaucratic organization (Wildlife and Parks) that is appointed?” he said. Allowing landowners to lock their properties in conservation projects forever, he said, could stifle the rights of future landowners.

More information about the Endangered Species Act and Forever Easements written by Michael Pearce for the Wichita Eagle can be found here.