Kansas is in an awkward position. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must decide by Sept. 30 whether to propose listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened or endangered species. The bird's range and numbers have been declining for years everywhere except Kansas.

The western part of the state is now home to at least half of the world's lesser prairie chicken population. The other half lives in nearby areas of Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

Together, the remaining birds are on less than 8 percent of their historic range. And, more than 90 percent of that current habitat is private property.

So, how landowners manage those 100 million-plus acres will ultimately determine the lesser prairie chicken's future, said Charlie Lee, Kansas State Research and Extension wildlife specialist.

K-State Research & Extension, Finney County Office will be hosting a webinar meeting with Charlie Lee as he presents a Lesser Prairie Chicken webinar from 7 to 9 a.m. April 30 at the Finney County Extension Office, 501 S. Ninth St. The webinar program will include three speakers.

To better facilitate setup and room space, you are asked to RSVP by 5 p.m. April 29 by calling the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670 or emailing fi@listserv.ksu.edu.

The FWS decision could have a wide-ranging impact.

"The volunteer cooperation we've had from Kansas landowners should serve as an example for the other states to follow," said Jim Pitman, small-game coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. But the outcome may not be that simple.

Charlie Lee's comprehensive new website on lesser prairie chicken issues and management can be accessed at http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/p.aspx?tabid=275.

Setting out tomatoes

Gardeners often try to get a jump on the season by planting tomatoes as early as possible. Though this can be successful, there are certain precautions that should be observed.

* Harden off plants: Plants moved directly from a warm, moist greenhouse to the more exposed and cooler conditions outside may undergo transplant shock. Transplant shock causes plants to stop growing for a time. Plants can be acclimated to outside conditions by placing them outdoors in a location protected from wind and full sunlight for a few days before transplanting. Another way to harden off plants is to transplant them and place a cardboard tent or wooden shingle to protect them from wind and sun for two to three days. The best condition for transplanting is an overcast, still day.

* Protection from frost: Tomatoes cannot tolerate frost. Though we are past the average date of the last frost in most of Kansas, watch the weather and cover the plants if frost threatens. A floating row cover or light sheets can be used for protection. Actually a floating row cover can be left on the plants for two to three weeks to increase the rate of growth and establishment.

* Adequate soil temperature: Tomato roots do not do well until soil temperatures reach a fairly consistent 55 degrees F. Check the temperature at two inches deep during the late morning to get a good average temperature for the day. Plastic mulch can be used to warm soil more quickly than bare ground. Purple leaves are a sign of phosphorus deficiency due to too cool soils.

Other tips for getting tomato plants off to a fast start include:

* Use small, stocky, dark green plants rather than tall, spindly ones. Smaller plants form roots rapidly and become established more quickly than those that are overgrown.

* Though tomatoes can be planted slightly deeper than the cell-pack, do not bury plant deeply or lay the stem sideways. Though roots will form on the stems of tomatoes, this requires energy that would be better used for establishment and growth.

* Use a transplant solution (starter solution) when transplanting to make sure roots are moist and nutrients are readily available.

* Do not mulch until the plant is growing well. Mulching too early prevents soil from warming up.

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Walk or run?

Walk Kansas 2013 is in full swing. Choosing to be active can provide many health benefits. While many may choose to run, many choose to walk. Both can provide equal health benefits.

In a study published by the American Heart Association, they looked at walking versus running and their affect on coronary heart disease risk factors. These factors included CHD, hyper-tension, cholesterol and diabetes mellitus. The study spanned 6.2 years and involved people who walked or ran the same distance.

While the risk factors were decreased by both running and walking, the differences between the exercises were not significantly different. Only cholesterol reduction was slightly greater by walking.

So choose the exercise that best fits your lifestyle. The goal is to get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.

Source: www.walkkansas.org.