Conservation and Natural Resources

Conservation and Natural Resources

Environmental Standards

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Any legislation that is enacted or any environmental regulations, which are proposed for promulgation, must be based on: factual information, scientific knowledge and economic impact studies.

Rules and regulations promulgated by any local unit of government or state agency should not put Kansas producers or businesses at a competitive disadvantage with any other state.

Federal and state agencies currently impose extensive environmental regulations on business, industry and agriculture. We favor implementation of environmental regulations by statewide authorities, rather than authorizing the development of regulations by each unit of local government, to ensure a consistent approach to environmental protection throughout the state. We support the current authority of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to consider site-specific conditions when issuing permits and implementing programs.

Hazardous Waste

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Only qualified, technically competent persons, corporations or entities should be granted authority to develop a site or sites for disposal or storage of radioactive or other hazardous wastes. Such entities must be fully liable for safe operation of the site or sites.

Citizens should be granted amnesty when turning in hazardous wastes or substances for disposal. Kansas Farm Bureau will support, foster and cooperate with industry and governmental agencies to implement programs for proper disposal of unusable chemicals and containers.

The safety of our citizens and the protection of our natural resources are best served by preservation of the five-state Central Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission. Kansas should remain a member of the Compact. The Compact Commission should implement its plan to construct the first waste facility in Nebraska. While temporary, on-site storage by producers of low-level radioactive waste is prudent, long-term storage should be at well-constructed and professionally managed regional facilities.

Hunting and Fishing Regulations

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Those who hunt and fish should possess written permission, signed by the landowner or operator, stating the days hunting or fishing is permitted and giving a description and the location of land on which permission is granted. We support the “purple paint law” which authorizes the posting of property through the use of a specific paint color.

Kansas big game hunting permits and regulations should be structured to adequately control deer, turkey, antelope, and elk populations to minimize crop and property damage. A sufficient number of permits should be made available to resident and non-resident hunters to ensure Kansas landowners can provide hunting opportunities to all hunters. Regulations for deer hunting should be structured to encourage deer hunting as an agritourism industry, and should not limit the ability of landowners to actively participate in the management of the deer herd and enhancement of the hunting industry.

Each farmer, whether landowner or tenant, who requests big game permits for hunting on his own land or land on which he is tenant or operator, should be guaranteed permits at no cost for all big game seasons. We support the transfer of landowner permits to family members without the imposition of a transfer fee. Owners of Kansas land who live in another state should be able to receive a permit to hunt all big game on their Kansas land. Landowners who provide guided or self-guided hunting opportunities on land owned or leased for agriculture should not be required to obtain or pay fees for an outfitting license.

We encourage agriculture producers to use wildlife depredation permits provided by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) where wildlife creates property and crop damage. In management districts where permits are available and not requested by Kansas residents, those permits should be made available to non-residents. Producers and landowners experiencing significant crop and/or livestock loss as a result of wildlife damage in Kansas should be compensated by KDWPT equal to the amount of the loss.

We support a voluntary program allowing individual landowners to create a deer herd management plan, in consultation with a wildlife biologist,allowing the landowners to be issued transferable deer tags for a given hunting season. The plan should set harvest levels so the herd is sustained, yet still yields several trophy deer annually.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT)

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We encourage the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to fully explore the option of leasing land rather than purchasing any land.

We oppose the use of tax and fee revenues for the acquisition of any private land. An economic impact study, a public hearing within the county where acquisition is proposed, and approval by the legislature should be required before the KDWPT is allowed to assume ownership of any land. Any acquired property should remain on the property tax rolls. We are opposed to KDWPT having the authority to use the power of eminent domain.

The KDWPT should pay, or continue to pay property taxes, or an in-lieu-of tax payment, at rates comparable to neighboring properties, to the county and school districts in which Wildlife and Parks property is located.

The KDWPT, with appropriate oversight by the legislature, should continue programs designed to significantly reduce deer and turkey populations and conduct more effective big game population control measures.

We urge the KDWPT to continue the toll-free telephone number to be used by citizens to report wildlife damage to crops and other property.

Payment for damages should be based on the actual market value of the loss.

We encourage KDWPT to develop aggressive plans that will control and prevent the spread of diseases, particularly Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and the potential for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), in the Kansas deer, elk and antelope herds. A CWD plan should include more rigorous and frequent testing, including tests on live animals.

As Kansas is a sovereign state, we recommend that the KDWPT withdraw its membership in the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Mined Land Reclamation

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We support the reclamation of mined lands. We encourage the Governor and legislature to urge the U.S. Congress to move in a timely manner to appropriate mining fees that have been collected for the purpose of reclamation.

Natural Gas and Oil

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We support federal and state legislative or regulatory commission action to prolong the life of existing gas fields, insure access to and provide a dependable, timely, uninterrupted supply of affordable and adequate quality natural gas for irrigation, other agricultural purposes and rural residences.

The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) and the legislature should examine "spot market" sales and protect against any adverse economic impact on irrigation farmers.

Kansas law should enforce transparency in production and price reporting so that lease owners have accurate and reasonable information.

The Kansas Corporation Commission should develop regulations for metering that ensure not only that each well is metered, but also that the meter installed is functioning properly, accurately calibrated, and has received regular maintenance by trained personnel.

We support legislation that defines both pipelines and gathering systems.

Natural Resources Policy

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We support the division of authority among various agencies in managing the natural resources of the state. All Kansas citizens are best served by continuing a multi-agency system of administering water laws, regulations, and other natural resource programs. We cannot support a single natural resource agency with authority over all natural resources administration. It is vital that separation remain in administering laws and programs for water quantity and quality. The Kansas Department of Agriculture should remain autonomous from other state natural resource agencies and should retain authority for administering water rights laws.

Natural Resources Protection

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We encourage additional efforts, by appropriate authorities, to prevent contamination of groundwater and surface water in Kansas.

Success in protecting natural resources is dependent upon partnering and cooperation with affected organizations and entities by government agencies at all levels.

An increased focus and allocation of resources should be directed at developing crop and livestock management practices, which protect natural resources, the agricultural economy and the opportunity for continued use of crop and livestock protection products. Researchers, agencies and agricultural producers must all be involved in developing management practices, which are effective and widely utilized.

Since the protection of natural resources is vital to all Kansans and important for future generations of Kansans, we support creating a dedicated source of funding, expanding cost-share programs, creating tax incentives and establishing a state-revolving-loan fund for resource protection. The fund should be used in part for sound agriculture conservation practices and protection of valuable farm and ranch land through federal and state conservation easement programs.

A program that would provide additional support to protect and enhance natural resources must ensure farmers, ranchers and rural residents are treated fairly and that property rights are protected.

There must be adequate funding to assist landowners with projects such as implementing the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements, installing stream buffers, constructing livestock waste management facilities, developing crop and livestock best management practices, treating highly erodible lands, plugging abandoned wells and upgrading rural septic systems.

The natural resources funding plans must prohibit any governmental entity from using the new revenues to purchase private farm and ranch lands or increase the number of total acres under an agency’s management.

Soil and Water Conservation

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Federal and state cost-sharing is appropriate for conservation compliance and as an incentive for developing and maintaining soil and water conservation.

We support the development of a voluntary Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) in Kansas for retirement of water rights.

We support voluntary, incentive-based programs that encourage groundwater conservation.

We support reauthorization and full funding of existing federal and state conservation programs. Federal and state conservation programs should strive to provide greater flexibility for local and site-specific conditions. Land and/or water rights enrolled in conservation programs should provide the greatest benefit for soil and water conservation.

Solid Waste Disposal

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Storage, identification, packaging, transportation and disposal of waste materials must be adequately researched and developed to ensure safety for Kansas citizens and the natural resources of this state.

Kansas and its counties may accept, but should not be forced to accept, waste materials coming from other states or nations. Kansas should have sufficient authority over transportation, inspection, storage and monitoring of out-of-state waste shipments in order to protect water quality and the environment. Additionally, a fee structure must be established that protects Kansas citizens against costs associated with out-of-state waste.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, when developing regulations to implement new federal and state landfill laws, should consider the different conditions which exist in the various regions of the state including rainfall, depth to water table and geology to minimize operating and monitoring costs at each landfill site.

Operators of solid waste disposal sites shall be adequately bonded or insured to compensate landowners and/or tenants affected by the escape or dispersion of such waste. Any owner or operator of a new or existing municipal solid waste landfill should be granted an exemption from excessive design and groundwater monitoring requirements if:

1. The landfill receives and disposes of less than twenty (20) tons of municipal solid waste daily, based on annual averages;

2. There is no evidence of groundwater contamination from the landfill;

3. The landfill is in an area that annually receives not more than twenty-five (25) inches of precipitation per year; and

4. The community has no practicable waste management alternative.

Threatened and Endangered Species

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As an alternative to placing species on threatened or endangered lists, we support developing conservation management plans that will increase or maintain the population and make listing unnecessary. Conservation management plans should be the result of a cooperative effort by landowners, agricultural producers, wildlife managers, conservation technicians and the appropriate federal and state agencies. Any conservation management plan should be voluntary and provide incentives to private landowners for protecting or enhancing habitat for species needing protection. Non-participants in voluntary species conservation management plans should not be held to the standards of the plan.

Listing a species as threatened, endangered or in need of conservation should require documentation that the species proposed to be protected is actually present in a clearly defined geographic area, and is dependent for survival on habitat in that location. Sound scientific data supporting the inclusion of a species shall receive wide dissemination to landowners and private organizations representing the rights of these landowners.

Any agency, organization or person requesting a listing for a species in need of conservation, threatened or endangered, or requesting critical habitat designation, should be required to provide and fund an environmental impact report with emphasis on the economic impact of the action.

Before any species is placed on the state or federal threatened and endangered species list, the following criteria must be met:

1. Hold public hearings;

2. Approval by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism;

3. Compliance with federal and state review process and statutory requirements; and

4. Evaluation of any agency program or project that would be impacted by such designation and extent of the impacts.

A public hearing should be required in the area affected and an economic impact statement developed before any animal, plant or marine species is permitted to be introduced or reintroduced by any governmental agency or non-governmental organization.

Mitigation or acreage replacement measures should take into account cost/benefit ratios, and the economic impact of any proposal for mitigation or acreage replacement. Mitigation or replacement of habitat should be required only in areas where conversion of the habitat is significant in relationship to the total amount of habitat available in the area.

We encourage appropriate authorities to allow landowners to remove gravel from gravel bars where such activity does not pose a significant threat to a threatened or endangered species or their habitat.

We oppose the addition of prairie dogs to the endangered or protected species list.

Waste Management

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Farmers and ranchers realize proper handling of waste materials is essential in protecting water quality and the environment. Regulation of wastes produced in confined livestock facilities should be economically viable and technologically equivalent for all species of livestock based on specific livestock waste poundage. Any construction requirements must be reasonable. The issuance of permits should be timely, and permits should be valid for not less than five years. Livestock facility plans should be developed based on minimum design standards and approved by the state based on merit. Operators should maintain existing discretion to employ assistance from a consulting Professional Engineer. When any permitted Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) becomes non-operational, the owner should be required to follow approved closure procedures that protect natural resources and are funded without cost to taxpayers.

When remodeling, changing the management of, or replacing an existing permitted facility, producers should not be required to “re-permit,” if they are remaining within the existing permitted animal units.

Safe, convenient and affordable programs to recycle or dispose of used pesticide containers, outdated or waste agricultural chemicals, expended batteries, used oil and old tires, must be developed with emphasis on strengthening county collection programs. Farmers and ranchers should be authorized to retain, in quantities sufficient for farming operations, materials normally considered waste, i.e., used tires and used oil.

For safe disposal of dead wildlife, domestic livestock and pets, operators of solid waste disposal sites should be encouraged to develop and maintain animal disposal facilities at the county level.

Construction of secondary lead smelters should be discontinued until the EPA can develop guidelines to protect human health and the environment.

A balanced funding plan to conduct effective waste management and disposal programs should include government, industry and consumers. We support the landfill tipping fee that awards competitive grants to public or private entities to establish or enhance voluntary local projects related to waste reduction, recycling, composting and public education.