Any way you slice it, according to those involved, the hunting allowed at Harvey County East Park last season through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism's Walk-In Hunting Access program was a win-win for all parties.
"I think by any measure it was a success," said KDWPT biologist Charles Cope. "We had no complaints. Law enforcement had no issues."
Coming before the Harvey County Commission on Tuesday, Cope presented some statistics on just how well-received the WIHA program was at East Park, requesting it continue into 2019-2020.
Hosting limited archery deer hunting and waterfowl hunting in designated sections of East Park, both saw their fair share of use. Offering 94 days of archery deer hunting last season, individuals checked in on two-thirds of those contracted days. Waterfowl hunting usage was similar, with hunters on site 61 of the 114 contracted days (though the blinds were closed for some of those days).
More notably, Cope said East Park was one of the most popular sites in the WIHA program for waterfowl hunting — accounting for nearly 50 percent of total check-ins last season of all 19 Kansas locations. Additionally, it attracted 60 hunters from 27 cities and 12 different counties.
"I think it brought a lot of people to the park who traditionally haven't been to Harvey County or Harvey County East Lake," Cope said.
Proposing seasons of the exact same length for 2019-2020, the only changes Cope outlined were the striking of a start-up fee, while parks director Kass Miller also pointed out the county will get a little more revenue for deer hunting following habitat improvements.
Commission chairman Chip Westfall noted he had heard no complaints — in fact, some feedback received showed residents are glad to see the parks being used in the winter — and the governing body unanimously approved authorization for parks staff to proceed with the WIHA contracts for 2019-2020.
Not only was KDWPT pleased to see that partnership continue, but Delta Waterfowl representatives — who helped install the blinds at East Lake — were also happy to see the contract renewed and duck hunting returning to Harvey County.
"I'd like to thank the county commission for allowing us to do that and continue it in the future," said Delta Waterfowl regional director Garrett Trentham.
In other business, the county commission:
• Was notified that the next quad county meeting will be held at 11:45 a.m. Sept. 9 and hosted by Sedgwick County at Intrust Bank Arena.
• Learned that the commission and any departmental staff must submit any legislative platform suggestions to the Kansas Association of Counties by Aug. 23.
• Heard about an upcoming REAP executive board meeting and a report on the recent regional broadband convention, which highlighted an expansion of service options in western Harvey County.
• Was alerted to disaster loans being made available through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
• Received an update from the Coalition Against Big Trucks noting that the infrastructure act of 2019 has been approved with no changes to truck size regulations included, as well as thanks for the commission's input.
• Learned that KCAMP is seeking nominations for its board of trustees, which must by submitted by Aug. 30.
• Discussed the approaching deadline for hazard mitigation grant applications, which will be due next week for the flooding event from October 2018.
• Was informed that ballots for the USD 373 bond election will be mailed out on Aug. 14.
• Due to Regier Construction pulling its contract, the county commission rescinded its bid and awarded a bid for work on the Harvey County Detention Center flooring project to Stover Concrete Creations (the second lowest bid) at a total cost of $25,450, waiving purchasing policy.
• Approved new seven and 14-night primitive camping permits at the county parks for a cost of $50 and $80, respectively.
• Approved Resolution 2019-17 adopting the Kansas Homeland Security Region G Hazard Mitigation Plan.
• Approved a request for bid for bridge replacement 24-O.7.
• Opened a public hearing on a 2019 budget amendment (altering the max amount to be spent out of three legally budgeted funds because of increasing expenses), closing it after no comments were made.
• Heard concerns from Harvey County resident Dan Harms on the rate of tax increases in Harvey County's budget over the last two years compared to rate of inflation, as it "appears to be outpacing our citizens' ability to earn money and live in the community," according to Harms. Following the public hearing, a final budgetary resolution will be presented to the commission for approval next week.