By Kenny Kieser
Today I changed the world—at least a little––and you can too. Directly or indirectly, outdoor communicators constantly aid conservation efforts. We are often called stewards of the outdoors and occasionally find ways to earn that title. The question is, will you seize the opportunity when it comes your way?
I recently received a phone call that, thankfully, got my attention:
“The Kansas City Power and Light Company (KCP&L) is planning to build a huge power grid with 150-foot high poles and numerous strings of wires with cables through the Mound City area bordering the Squaw Creek Federal Wildlife Area,” said Joe Laukemper, past president of the region’s Ducks Unlimited group. “This will knock out properties with blinds and worse, have huge impacts on the wildlife. I need your help!”
I sat back and thought about a flock of snow geese that had been lost in a snowstorm in this area a couple years ago and flew into much lower power lines. Several were killed and badly injured. Owls, hawks and eagles had also been lost by flying into power lines that were about 30 feet high and bordering the refuge. A 150-foot power line system that was 30 feet wide and decorated with 20 to 30 lines and cables through the middle of flight paths would be disastrous.
Squaw Creek Federal Wildlife Refuge, located in Northwest Missouri, is a major stopover for waterfowl traveling the Mississippi Flyway. More than two million white geese, and hundreds of thousands of ducks and Canada geese stopover in this region each fall and spring. Thousands of river-bottom-row-crop acres feed these birds that Lewis and Clark mentioned in their famous journal as “abundant wildlife.”
I accepted Laukemper’s invitation and started writing. My newspaper version of the story landed on the wire and appeared in a landslide of newspapers across this country. My shorter magazine piece was published in American Waterfowler, Wildfowl and several other noted publications and their websites including Ducks Unlimited’s.
The KCP&L company received thousands of letters and e-mails from people across the country and just recently changed direction of their power lines. Now the lines will miss the Mound City/Squaw Creek Region by several miles. To their credit, they listened. I was shocked to find they actually published my story on their website.
You can call this the power of the pen or even beating city hall, but for me, it simply means that one of my favorite places is saved and huge numbers of migrating birds are undisturbed. Now every time I drive in this region, I will have the satisfaction of knowing that my stories played an important part in helping to conserve some special wildlife and its habitat. What could be better than that?