Kansas Trails News – 2008

Kansas Trail News, 12 February 2008

KanBikeWalk Organization Formed. A new state bicycling and walking advocacy group, KanBikeWalk, was formed in December at an organizational meeting held in Emporia attended by representatives of Kansas running, biking, and walking organizations as well as KDOT. The model for this organization is the Missouri Bicycle Federation which has been very successful in generating support for extending the famous KATY Trail into the Kansas City Metro Area. The organization’s mission is to promote a safe bicycling and walking environment for Kansans through education and advocacy. To learn more or get involved contact President Gina Poertner, Emporia.

Two Rivers Trail in Lawrence Update. The City of Lawrence has applied for a $500,000 federal Transportation Enhancement grant from KDOT to build the 1.5-mile Burroughs Creek Trail (a.k.a. Two Rivers Trail) from 11th Street to 23rd Street where it will link up with the Haskell Rail-Trail, Kansas’ first rail-trail. The total cost of the 10-foot-wide concrete path is $845,000. The trail will have raised pedestrian crossings among other features. The City is in the process of acquiring the right-of-way. Ultimately, the trail will extend from the Wakarusa River to the Kansas River. KDOT is expected to announce grant awards in May.

Topeka Landon Trail Update. Construction on the Landon Trail in eastern Topeka has slowed due to cold weather. Most of the 10-foot-wide concrete path has been completed except for road crossing approaches and a section north of 25th Street. The trailhead is located at 15th & Monroe (just east of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site). As funds become available the recreational path will be extended from 25th Street to the city limits where it will connect with the crushed limestone segment maintained by the Landon Nature Trail Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy. The Landon Trail stretches 38 miles to just west of the town of Pomona.

Marysville Seeks Grant for Trail. The City of Marysville has applied for a $1 million TE grant for development of a trail and plaza project within the city . The recreational path will utilize a former Union Pacific corridor and it will connect with the 12-mile Kansas segment of the Homestead Trail now under development. The Kansas segment is being developed by Marshall County Connection. The historic Homestead Trail will eventually extend 66 miles to Lincoln, Nebraska and could form a part of the Quad State Trail Network.

Multi-use Path Planning Board in Emporia Established. The Emporia City Commission recently approved the creation of a Multi-use Path Planning Board to create a multi-use pathway system that will allow citizens to bicycle and walk safely away from traffic. The first goal of the board is to identify pathway routes that will enable children to walk or bicycle safely to and from school. The board will be working to identify non-governmental funding sources.

Len Foote Hike Inn. The Len Foote Hike Inn is only accessible by hiking along a five-mile trail. Located in state park north of Atlanta, Georgia, it has won a Green LEED gold certificate. For more information, visit the inn’s web site.. A trail near the inn takes hikers to the Appalachian Trail.

Trail News 26 March 2008

(From the Rails-to-Trails website:):

RTC Protects Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Trail Funding

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has scored a major victory, protecting what could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars of funding for trails, walking and biking. Working with members of Congress, RTC once again successfully defended transportation enhancements (TE)—the nation’s largest funding source for bicycle, pedestrian and trail programs—against unfair, targeted cuts.

On Thursday, March 6, 2008, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) ordered states to return $3.15 billion in transportation funds. Such “rescission” orders have historically resulted in disproportionate attacks on TE. This rescission, however, was different.

In June 2007, RTC worked diligently with Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and other supporters to pass legislation* protecting TE from disproportionate future cuts. By helping to develop and advocate for the policy, and supporting it with legal analysis, RTC assisted Rep. Oberstar’s work, and an amendment ensuring proportionality passed. As a result of this powerful 2007 decision, the USDOT is now legally required to limit the amount each state can cut from its TE program.

Had states been able to cut TE in this rescission order at a rate similar to those in recent years, TE could have lost two to three times as much in funding. Given the provision that cuts must be fair and balanced across programs, TE should now lose less than $100 million—saving $100 to $200 million nationally to spend on rail-trails, bicycling and other valuable projects.

FEWER AMERICANS GET OUTDOORS. Bryn Mawr ecologist Patricia Zaradic and Oliver Pergams, a University of Illinois conservation geneticist, recently published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluding that fewer Americans are participating in outdoor activities, including hiking. (Lawrence Journal-World, 3-01-08). For example, visits to national parks peaked in 1987, despite population growth since then. According to the study, participation in outdoor activities has declined 18-25% from two decades ago. The researchers claim the reason for the decline is “videophilia”—watching TV, computer screens, etc. instead of enjoying the great outdoors. “There’s this whole other body of research that indicates it’s time spent in nature, especially as a child, that leads to environmental sensitivity as an adult,” said Zaradic. People are less inclined to support outdoor recreational facilities and protection of the environment such as national parks and wilderness areas.

LAWRENCE IS 38TH MOST WALKABLE CITY. Lawrence is the 38th most walkable community in the US and first in Kansas according to a study by Prevention magazine and the American Podiatric Medical Association (LJW 3-19-08). Manhattan ranked second in the Sunflower State. Wichita and Salina ranked among the 25 least walkable cities in the entire nation. A panel of walking experts who are primarily urban planners, ranked 500 communities in America.

Trail News, 6 April 2008

New Kansas Trails Website. A new Kansas Trails website has been launched featuring some recreational trails in the great Sunflower State, a Kansas trails newsletter and an e-bookstore. Click here to check it out.

Prairie Spirit Trail Set to Open June 7. Trent McCown, trail manager, reports that the final segment of the 52-mile trail is expected to open on National Trails Day, which is June 7 this year. This will be an exciting milestone in the history of rail-trails in Kansas. Soon trail users will be able to bike or hike all the way from Ottawa through the city of Iola. This completes the Prairie Spirit Trail and now it is hoped that KDWP will now initiate development of another long-distance rail-trail.

Thursday Taco Rides. Over 600 bicyclists participate in a bike ride on the 63-mile Wabash Trace Trail Thursday nights when they bike 10 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa to the Mineola Steakhouse where they eat tacos. This is quite the social event for bicyclists in the Omaha area. The owner of the steakhouse appreciates the trail so much he has donated a new van to the nonprofit organization which developed and maintains the rail-trail.

2008 Trail Summit. The following excerpt is taken from the Kansas Trails Council newsletter (March 2008): With generous support of the Kansas Health Foundation, the Kansas Health Summit: Built Environment and the Outdoors is being planned for October 6 & 7, 2008. The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Wichita and will focus on trail issues and the health benefits of outdoor activity. A free presentation by Richard Louv, author of The Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, will be held at Century II on the evening of October 6.

Kansas Trails News, 6 May 2008

Kansas Sampler a Success. Sunflower Recreational Trails, Inc. participated in the Kansas Sampler (held May 3-4 in Concordia) with an attractive booth promoting trails in Kansas. SRT members supported the establishment of more recreational trails in the Sunflower State by talking with literally hundreds of people. Almost all comments from passersby were positive and interest in building more trails in Kansas was high. The Kansas Sampler promotes Kansas travel and tourism. SRT also held its annual meeting at the Cloud County Community College in Concordia on the second day of the event.

Prairie Spirit Trail to Open June 7. The final segment of the 52-mile trail will open on National Trails Day which is June 7 this year. An opening ceremony will be held at the trailhead in Iola (Cofachique Park, located north of US 54 along old US 169). This will be an exciting milestone in the history of rail-trails in Kansas. Soon trail users will be able to bike or hike all the way from Ottawa through the city of Iola.

Prairie Sunset Trail Construction Progresses. Prairie Travelers, Inc. reports that approximately 2.5 miles of the Prairie Sunset Trail will be rocked with crushed limestone by the end of June. The trail work will be performed both east and west of Goddard. The City of Goddard itself is still hasn’t built its section of trail within the city limits but it received a federal TE grant from KDOT for this project.

Landon Nature Trail Update. The Landon Trail Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy is working hard to get the Shawnee County portion of the 38-mile Landon Nature Trail completed as soon as possible. A bridge northwest of the Clinton Wildlife Area recently was decked with concrete. The Kansas Wildscape Foundation gave a grant to build the trail within the Clinton Wildlife Area. Once the wildlife area section is completed, the trail in the county will be finished. It is not known why the contractor for the City of Topeka still hasn’t completed the street crossings for the concrete work for a section of the Landon Trail within the city limits.

Homestead Trail Moving Forward. Marshall County Connections hopes to take possession of the Kansas portion of the Homestead Trail soon. The Nebraska Trails Foundation is transferring the corridor to the Marysville-based organization. MCC hopes to get the Homestead Trail completed from Marysville two miles north by this fall. The City of Marysville will probably start construction on its connecting trail next spring.

Kansas Trails News, 27 May 2008

WAM-SAG-MAN TRAIL WEBSITE. There is a new website for the Wam-Sag-Man Trail, www.wam-sag-man.org. The trail will link Wamego with St. George and Manhattan. The paved pathway will follow the Old Military Road and along the Union Pacific Railroad line (making it a rails with trails project). The new recreational trail will link up with the Manhattan Linear Park Trail (two miles of which are a rail-trail) and will also form a segment of the Quad States Trails Network.

RAIL-TRAILS IN AMERICA AND KANSAS. According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, there are now more than 1,500 rail-trails totaling 15,300 miles in America. In Kansas there are over eight completed rail-trails totaling more than 94 miles with over 18 rail-trail projects in the works. The longest completed rail-trail in Kansas is the 52-mile Prairie Spirit Trail which stretches between Ottawa and Iola.

TRANSPORTATION ENHANCEMENT FUNDING CUT AGAIN. On March 6, 2008, the Bush Administration ordered state transportation departments to return $3.15 billion in transportation funds. This will result in another cut in federal Transportation Enhancement monies which fund development of recreational paths in the Sunflower State. Earlier in the decade Kansas received about $10 million annually in TE funds but now due to repeated rescissions by the Bush Administration and actions by KDOT, there is only $7 million available every other year. So cities and state agencies will be competing for fewer dollars resulting in fewer miles of trails being built in the Sunflower State. The FY 2009-10 grant awards should be announced by KDOT soon. It is hoped that the new administration will end these rescissions.

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY CELEBRATIONS. Celebrations will be held all across the country on National Trails Day which is Saturday June 7 this year. Americans of all walks of life will bicycle, walk, run, jog, rollerblade, wheelchair ride or horseback ride on America’s outstanding recreational trails. It should be noted that originally the Welda-Iola section of the Prairie Spirit Trail was to be officially opened and dedicated on National Trails Day but continued construction delays have postponed this. Also, the trail detours between Garnett and Richmond will continue until next summer. Interest in the new trail section is high with trail officials getting over ten emails a day asking when it will open.

MAGAZINE FEATURES MILL CREEK STREAMWAY. Rails to Trails Magazine (Summer ’08) published by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy features an article on Johnson County’s Mill Creek Streamway. Kansas City Star writer Mike Hendricks reports in his article “Going with the Flow” that the 17-mile path has more than 700,000 visitors each year. The scenic paved path winds through wooded hills and meadows along Mill Creek from Olathe to an island in the Kansas River. A good access point is the popular and scenic Shawnee Mission Park.

Kansas Trails News, 9 June 2008

TE GRANT APPROVED FOR TWO RIVERS TRAIL IN LAWRENCE. The City of Lawrence has been notified that its $500,000 federal Transportation Enhancement grant application from KDOT has been approved to build the 1.5-mile Burroughs Creek Trail. The recreational path will stretch from 11th Street to 23rd Street in eastern Lawrence where it will link up with the one-mile Haskell Rail-Trail, Kansas’ first developed rail-trail. The total cost of this first phase of the 10-foot-wide concrete path is $845,000. Lawrence’s application was one of the seven approved out of a total of 31 ped/bike project applications. The trail will have raised pedestrian crossings among other features. The City is in the process of acquiring the right-of-way. Ultimately, the trail will extend from the Wakarusa River to the Kansas River and may ultimately be called the Two Rivers Trail or River to River Trail.

PRAIRIE SPIRIT TRAIL OPENING STILL ON HOLD. As mentioned in the last newsletter, the official opening the final leg of the Prairie Spirit Trail (between Welda and Iola) has been delayed indefinitely. Apparently, the contractor hasn’t completed all of the work to the satisfaction of KDWP. Trent McCown, the Prairie Trail Manager, reports in the Prairie Spirit Express (May 2008) the following: “…[A]lthough we cannot officially open the trail for use, we will only be giving verbal warnings to visitors if they have the proper permits and are riding under the assumption that the trail is open.”

FLINT HILLS TRAIL AT OSAWATOMIE TO OPEN. The Osawatomie Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy is working hard to complete the Flint Hills Nature Trail (FHNT) from Osawatomie city limits west to Rantoul by July. The eight-mile segment is highly scenic and traverses woodlands along the Marais Des Cygnes River. Crushed limestone has been installed (except for a one-quarter mile section) and all that is needed is final grading and installation of a few bollards and signs. Next, the Osawatomie Division will ask the City of Osawatomie to apply for a federal Transportation Enhancement grant to run the trail from the western city limits on into town.

FHNT AT VASSAR TO BE EXTENDED. Work will start soon on extending the six-mile Vassar trail section of the Flint Hills Nature Trail west 1.5 miles to and over the US 75 bridge. KDOT is planning to widen US 75 which will necessitate the replacement of the bridge. When funds and volunteers become available, the Vassar section will be extended to Osage City and the town of Pomona. Vassar is located just south of Pomona Lake.

KATY TRAIL EXTENSION TO KC SCHEDULE. Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks reports that the KATY Trail extension into Kansas City will be completed within three years if all goes as planned (Kansas City Star6-09-08). A new recreational trail will be built between Windsor and Pleasant Hill within the railroad corridor making this a rails-with-trails project. Also, Kansas City, MO and Leawood, KS celebrated a state-line connection on National Trails Day (Saturday June 6) on the Indian Creek Trail. All of this activity means that eventually trail users in Johnson County will be able to travel all the way to St. Louis using off-road recreational trails.

MISSOURI RIVERFRONT TRAIL SEGMENT SET TO OPEN. The first 2.7 miles of the Missouri Riverfront Trail will open in July according to Kansas City Star columnist Mike Hendricks (Kansas City Star 6-09-08). The trail will initially connect the E.H. Young Riverfront Park in Riverside, MO with the English Landing Park in Parkville, MO. This trail will mostly utilize the tops of levees as it follows the Missouri River and will stretch from historic, antebellum Weston to the Clay County line in Kansas City. The crushed limestone path could become part of the Quad States Trails Network and will offer one of the most unique hiking and biking routes in the state. Plans even call for creation of a wetlands and rare hardwood river forest along much of its length.

TRANSPORTATION ENHANCEMENT GRANT AWARDS. KDOT recently awarded $2,001,364 in FY 2009-2010 federal transportation enhancement grants for pedestrian/bicycle projects:

Dodge City
Abandoned BNSF RR Ped/Bike Trail
Ped/Bike Path Construction
Landon Trail Extension
Ped/Bike Path Construction
Ped/Bike Path Construction
Bike Lane Construction
Ped/Bike Path Construction

Only seven out of 31 pedestrian/bicycle project applications were approved. The TE grant awards for all three categories (Historic; Scenic/Environmental and Pedestrian/Bicycle) totaled $5,288,415, which is down substantially from $9.73 million two years ago. This means that only about $1 million is now being spent annually on recreational path/bikeway projects in Kansas.

The Bush Administration rescinded some of the TE funds in March, but it is also unclear if KDOT is allocating all of the TE funds it receives from the US Department of Transportation. Plus there are some questionable grant awards: $887,832 for restoring a bus depot in Eureka, Kansas and $500,000 for an I-70 beautification project in Topeka. Due to these cutbacks, there won’t be any more grant awards until 2010. Unless action is taken by trails advocates at the state and federal levels, this funding source may dry up completely.

TOPEKA RECEIVES TE GRANT TO EXTEND LANDON TRAIL. The City of Topeka has received a $140,800 federal TE grant to extend the Landon Nature Trail south from SE 25th St. Construction on the 10-foot-wide concrete path is already nearing completion from the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site trailhead at 15th St to the SE 25th St. crossing. The grant will allow the recreational pathway to be extended, possibly to 37th Street. Once the trail is completed to the city limits (Sanneman Drive), trail users will be able to travel to the Clinton Wildlife Area as the crushed limestone pathway from the city limits to the wildlife area is just about completed.

Trail News, 9 July 2008

Wam-sag-man Trail Awarded $30,000. The Chicago-based Tawani Foundation has issued a $30,000 grant to the Wamego Community Foundation to support the Wam-sag-man Trail will link Manhattan with Wamego. $10,000 will be provided annually for three years. Total cost of the project is an estimated $4 million. Volunteers expect to work in fall on St. George Phase I.

Smoky Valley Ranch Trail under Development. A five-mile trail is being built on the 16,000-acre Smoky Valley Ranch Preserve owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. The preserve is located north of Scott City along the Smoky River. This short grass prairie has bison and the rare black-footed ferret which preys upon prairie dogs. Preserve officials hope to complete the trail this year.

Lake Shawnee Trail Update. According to the Kansas Trails Council newsletter (June 2008), the last two miles of the paved Lake Shawnee Trail are now under construction. This will complete the seven-mile loop around the lake. Deer Creek Trail will link up the Lake Shawnee Trail with the Shunga Trail. The City is building the Deer Creek Trail in phases from its northern terminus south to Lake Shawnee.

Osawatomie-Rantoul Trail Segment Open. The newly-completed segment of the Flint Hills Nature Trail is highly recommended. This trail section goes through oak-hickory and floodplain forests along the Marais Des Cygnes River between Osawatomie and Rantoul. There is a tree canopy for much of the way providing shade. The trail’s surface is crushed limestone suitable for all types of bikes. There are rocky bluffs south of the one bridge. The eastern trailhead is located 2 miles west of Osawatomie on John Brown Hwy (then north for ¼ mile on Indianapolis Rd.). The western terminus is one line south and one mile east of Rantoul on Virigina Rd. The total distance is 12 miles roundtrip. Due to the summer heat, a morning ride or walk is recommended. This trail segment was developed by the Osawatomie Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy.

Funding for Wichita Trails Approved. The Wichita City Council approved $250,000 on July 1 for three trail projects: (1) a trail along the Little Arkansas River between 13th St. and Bitting received $100,000 for design work; (2) a trail along 21st St. west of Maize Rd to Cheney received $50,000 to complete a missing gap; and (3) another $100,000 was allocated for a trail stretching from I-135 to K-96 and McAdams for design work.

Kansas Trail News, 9 August 2008

Landon Trail Website Launched. The Landon Trail Division of the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has launched an wonderful new website. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Landon Trail (Topeka-Pomona town) is on this easy-to-use website. Check it out for yourself.

New Trails at KU Nature Reserves to be Built. KU’s Field Station and Ecological Reserves has received a $17,558 grant from the Topeka-based Sunflower Foundation to build a one-half mile concrete path to link two planned nature trails at the new McColl Reserve located three miles north of Lawrence (Lawrence Journal-World, 4 August 2008). KU has ten reserves and biological research is conducted at most of these reserves.

Landon Trail in Topeka Update. The first segment of the Landon Nature Trail in Topeka (15th & Monroe to 25th St.) is now open for trail use, although landscaping, signage and general cleanup still need to be undertaken. This 10-foot-wide concrete path segment traverses a shady tree canopy for much of the way and the path intersects the famous and popular Shunga Trail near 20th & Kansas Ave. at Kansas’ first bicycle roundabout. The City is planning to let bids this year to complete the trail from 25th to 37th Streets.

Sunflower Recreational Trails Meeting. Sunflower Recreational Trails will hold its next meeting on Saturday September 6 in lovely downtown Lindsborg. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend the meeting which will be from 11:00 to 2:00 p.m. A field trip on the 2.4-mile Volkommen Trail will follow the meeting. The venue is to be announced.

Prairie Spirit Trail Now Complete. The Friends of the Prairie Spirit Trail newsletter and website report that the Prairie Spirit Trail Phase 3 from Welda to Iola (18 miles) is finally open. This 51-mile rail-trail is the longest completed rail-trail in Kansas. With cooler weather coming, why not check out this public resource?

Fall Trail Trek Bike Ride. The Johnson County Bicycle Club and the Lawrence Bicycle Club are planning the Fall Trail Trek Bike Ride to be held on Saturday, October 11 on the Prairie Spirit Trail. All the Kansas trail groups and all the Kansas bike clubs should advertise and promote the Fall Trail Trek Bike Ride.

Kansas Trails News, 25 August 2008

LAKE SHAWNEE TRAIL COMPLETED. On Monday August 25, an 84-foot-long ped-bike bridge was installed on the seven-mile concrete Lake Shawnee Trail in Topeka. Now bicyclists, joggers and walkers will be able to travel all around the lake.

LITTLE SWEDEN TRAIL MEETING VENUE SET. All trail advocates are invited to attend the Sunflower Recreational Trails board meeting to be held Saturday September 6 in beautiful Lindsborg. The meeting will start at 11:00 a.m. in the Swedish Crown Restaurant on the main street. Discussion items include the Smoky Hill Recreation Trail which will stretch eight miles between Lindsborg and Marquette. Come enjoy this Kansas destination place and eat some tasty Swedish food. After the meeting there will be a field trip on the Valkommen Trail, a 2.4-mile concrete rail-trail.

2008 KANSAS TRAILS SUMMIT IN WICHITA OCTOBER 6-7. Mike Goodwin, an organizer of the event reports, “This will be a great event if you are excited about trails. Richard Louv, the author of The Last Child Left in the Woods is speaking Monday night.” Below is an excerpt from the Kansas Recreation and Parks Association website providing a summary of the summit:

Summit Overview: The design of a community, where people live, work, learn, and play, heavily influences their well-being. The built environment, whether it is conducive to walking and biking, includes plenty of opportunities to access fresh fruits and vegetables, has varied outdoor opportunities that include trail systems, and is safe, affects an individual’s ability to be active and eat healthy. Many factors affect the built environment, including policy, city planning, coalition work, zoning, and citizen involvement. This summit will address how we can affect the built environment and enhance our current and planned trails systems to ensure our communities support healthy eating and active living and that this support stretches equally across all neighborhoods within a community and across the state of Kansas. For a brochure and to register go to the Kansas Recreation and Parks Association website.

Trail News, 1 October 2008

Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy Annual Meeting Set. The annual meeting of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy will be held on Sunday November 9 at Creekside at Berryton in the village of Berryton (located southeast of Topeka). All trails advocates are invited to attend this celebratory meeting, KRTC memberships of $10 can be paid at the door. Lunch will be provided from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (donation suggested) followed by the President’s address, division reports and election of directors. At 3:00 p.m. there will be a field trip (hike or bile) on the adjacent Landon Nature Trail. Come join in the fall fun!

Bike/Ped Bridge Across Missouri River at Omaha Opens The following was taken from the Omaha World-Herald (15 August 2008):

Flip of switch to light night skyline, pedestrian bridge
By Karen Sloan
World-Herald Staff Writer
After the switch is thrown at a ceremony Sept. 13, the lights illuminating the new Missouri River pedestrian bridge will shine every night.
When two cities get a new icon, it’s time to throw a party – and throw on the lights.
That’s just what Omaha and Council Bluffs officials are planning for the debut lighting of the new Missouri River pedestrian bridge connecting Nebraska and Iowa.
A concert, fireworks and one big flip of the switch are planned for the bridge lighting ceremony Sept. 13.
The bridge won’t be open to walking and biking until sometime in late September or early October, but the bridge will be lit every night after the ceremony, said Joe Gudenrath, spokesman for Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey.
The event piggybacks on the Playing With Fire blues concert series already scheduled at the Lewis and Clark Landing. Music begins at 4:30 p.m. with acts leading up to headliner Toni Lynn Washington and special guest Junior Watson. Fireworks and the bridge lighting will be at 9 p.m. All events are free.
Gallup Inc. is funding lights that will illuminate each of the 80 bridge cables. A separate donation from the Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation is funding color LED panels that will light the tops of both 204-foot bridge towers.

Kansas Trails/Health Summit Slated for October 6-7 in Wichita The following is taken from the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks website:

Event designed to promote healthy outdoor activities

On Oct. 6-7, the Kansas Recreation and Park Association (KRPA) will conduct a two-day event entitled the Kansas Health Summit: Built Environment and the Outdoors. The event will take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Century II Convention Center in Wichita.

The summit will promote the concept that the design of a community, called a “built environment” — where people live, work, learn, and play — heavily influences their well-being. The built environment concept emphasizes the importance of walking and biking and includes opportunities to access fresh fruits and vegetables, has varied outdoor opportunities that include trail systems, and is safe. Many factors affect the built environment concept, including policy, city planning, coalition work, zoning, and citizen involvement. This summit will address how the public can affect the built environment and enhance current and planned trail systems to ensure that communities support healthy eating and active living, and that this support stretches equally across all neighborhoods within a community and across the state of Kansas.

On Monday, Oct. 6, author Richard Louv will speak from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Mary Jane Teall Theater at Century II. Louv is a journalist who focuses on nature, family, and community. His most recent book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, has stimulated international conversation about the future relationship between children and nature.

Louv’s topics of discussion will include the following: actions that create change in community, school, and family; discussion points to inspire people of all ages to talk about the importance of nature in their lives; a progress report by the author about the Leave No Child Inside movement; and new and updated research that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. The event will also include tours, lectures and interactive sessions on a variety of topics.

Sessions of specific interest to park and recreation professionals include the following topics:

Monday, Oct. 6
when shared- or single-use trails are appropriate; a tour of Kansas hiking and paddling experiences by guidebook authors; the state of outdoor recreation in Kansas (including the 2008 State Trails Plan); health and wellness benefits of parks, recreation and open space; and single track trail assessment.

Tuesday, Oct. 7
children’s “Outdoor Bill of Rights” strategies for getting youth in Kansas to discover outdoor activities;
pathways and stream corridor planning projects; marketing trails and community walking access as tourist attractions; taking the necessary steps to keep outdoor experience a family and public priority; and
creating bicycle-friendly communities.

Full conference details and registration information are available on the KRPA website: www.krpa.org

Trail News 14 October 2008

National Bicycle Commuter Act Signed Into Law. “After decades of working to promote bicycles as a means of everyday transportation, Congressman Blumenauer’s efforts have been rewarded with the recent passage of his Bicycle Commuter Act. This legislation, enacted as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (HR 1424), allows employers to offer their employees a tax-exempt transportation fringe benefit of $20 per month for purchasing, maintaining, or storing a bicycle. As of 2008, employers may offer employees tax-exempt benefits of up to $215 per month for parking, or $110 per month for using transit or vanpools. The Bike Commuter Act balances these incentives by extending commuting benefits to bicyclists.” The above was excerpted from Congressman Blumenauer’s website.

Kansas Health Summit: Built Environment and the Outdoors. Trails, parks and outdoor recreation as an integral part of healthy active livable communities was the focus of The Kansas Health Summit: Built Environment and the Outdoors held in Wichita October 6th & 7th. With major funding provided by the Kansas Health Foundation, the Summit was sponsored by the Kansas Department of Health & Environment, Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Kansas Recreation and Parks Association, Kansas State University, Kansas Trails Council, Topeka Parks and Recreation, Wichita Health & Wellness Coalition and Wichita YMCA.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder spoke Monday evening on the necessity of exposing children to nature and the outdoors. On Tuesday, Darwin Hindman, Mayor of Columbia, MO, and an early advocate of Columbia’s connection to the Katy Trail, discussed the self-reinforcing benefits of community trails as inputs to an interconnected non-motorized transportation system in a healthy vibrant city. (The above was provided by trails advocate Ed Lincoln of Wichita).

Sales Tax for Recreational Trails on Ballot in Lawrence. Lawrence voters will be voting on a proposition Nov. 4 that calls for a sales tax increase, the revenues of which will be used for public infrastructure including “constructing recreational trails and paths.” Since recreational trails and paths were specifically mentioned in the ballot language, at least part of the revenues will be for developing recreational trails if Proposition 1 passes. However, most of the revenues will be used for improving streets and sidewalks. The first project will be completion of the Burroughs Creek Trail. These special sales tax revenues will be combined with a $500,000 federal Transportation Enhancement grant to develop this rail-trail. It is thought that due to a projected large turnout by KU students for the presidential election, the proposition will pass.

Website for Long-Distance Backpackers. There is an unique website for long-distance backpackers, www.trailjournals.com. To quote from the website:

This site is designed to unite journal writers with journal readers. We currently have 241,897 journal entries, with over 2,238,457 miles of hiking, 375,733 trail photos, and 1118 hikers in our directory. It is our goal to create an environment for people to share their outdoor adventures with everyone.

“No were else can you find so much adventure written by real everyday people.” — John Logan, TrailJournals Reader

Trail News, 24 October 2008

Proposed Lenora Larrick Park Trail. “The Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review approved Norton County’s request to relocated the national Register-listed Sand Creek Truss Leg Bedstead Bridge. The county’ proposal calls for the bridge to be moved from its original location north of Lenora and suited over Elk Creek in Lenora’s Larrick Park where it will serve as the centerpiece of a proposed walking trail. Constructed in 1906, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 fro its architectural and engineering significance. With National Park Service approval, the bridge will remain listed in the National Register at its new location.” (Excerpted from Kansas Preservation, September/October 2008, Volume 20, Number 5).

Flint Hills Nature Trail Progresses. “The Lyon County (LyCo) Division has applied screenings and are working on bridge hand rails to open the Flint Hills Nature Trail between Allen and Admire, to add to the segment opened last year between Allen and Bushong.” (Excerpted from KRTC’s Flint Hills and Landon Trails Newsletter, October 2008, Larry Rhodes, editor).

New Pedestrian Bridge Over Us 75 In Osage County In Works. “Last winter, Marais des Cygnes Division volunteers cleaned ballast off the bridge over Hwy 75 and opened the Flint Hills Nature Trail to the RV Park on adjacent property west of the highway giving them non-motorized access to Lake Pomona via the trail and county roads. Signs were also added, but they are a little hard to see from the highway. Osage County government lodged a complaint with KDOT concerning the restricted width and height of the overpass. After a hearing and study, KDOT decided that the existing bridge [old railroad bridge] should be replaced with a steel pedestrian bridge, at state cost, to alleviate the problem.” (Excerpted from Flint Hills and Landon Trails Newsletter, October 2008).

Use Goodsearch.Com To Donate Funds For Trails. The next time you want to conduct a search on the Web, try www.goodsearch.com and one cent will go to your favorite trails group such as Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc. or Sunflower Recreational Trails, Inc. It costs you nothing. If enough people do this over a year, the total amount will be significant. Enter the full name of your favorite trails organization, click on the “Verify” button, and then do your search.

Trail News, 18 November 2008

Lawrence Voters Approve Sales Tax For Recreational Trails. Lawrence voters overwhelmingly approved by a 70 to 30 percent margin a proposition on November 4 that increases the city’s sales tax by 0.3 percent, the revenues of which will be used for public infrastructure including ““constructing recreational trails and paths.” Since recreational trails and paths were specifically mentioned in the ballot language, at least part of the revenues will be for developing recreational trails. However, most of the revenues will be used for improving streets and sidewalks. The first project will be completion of the Burroughs Creek Trail. This special sales tax revenue will be combined with a $500,000 federal Transportation Enhancement grant to develop this rail-trail. Lawrence City Manager David Corliss recently stated that construction should commence in late 2009.

KRTC Receives $60,000 In Grants. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc. has received $60,000 from two Wichita-based foundations to replace a washed out bridge on the Landon Nature Trail near Croco Road in southern Shawnee county and connect Osawatomie to Ottawa on the Flint Hills Nature Trail. It’s possible the bridge could be replaced with a concrete box culvert. Once the Rantoul to Ottawa section of the Osawatomie-Ottawa segment is completed, trail users will be able to travel from Osawatomie all the way to Iola via the FHNT and the Prairie Spirit Trail.

Wam-Sag-Man Trail Reveives $200,000 Grant. The Kansas Deptartment of Wildlife and Parks has allocated $200,000 in federal National Recreation Trails Fund monies for development of the Wam-sag-man Trail which stretches between Manhattan and Wamego. Once an ownership title question is cleared up, the trail committee hopes to begin work on a 1.25-mile stretch of the concrete trail between Howard Lane and Railway Road, along Military Trail Road between Wamego and St. George.

Building Trails Workshop December 4. Mid-America Regional Council’s Academy for Sustainable Communities is sponsoring a Building Trails Workshop on December 4, 2008, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Shawnee Mission Park, Admin Bldg Board Room, 7900 Renner Rd., Shawnee Mission. The fee is $20. Here is what you’ll learn:

This course is for local agencies who wish to have an internal trail building crew within their organization. Items covered will include: basic design and layout issues such as corridor selection, horizontal and vertical alignments and site specific concerns; construction and regulatory issues; and maintenance and operations.

Steve Rhoades, Patti Banks Associates, Landscape Architect
Bill Maasen, Johnson County Parks and Recreation, Superintendent of Parks and Golf Courses
Cliff Middleton, Johnson County Parks and Recreation, Planning and Development Manager

Register online and pay with a credit card or an agency purchase order.
Contact Beverly Wilson by e-mail or phone (816)701-8234.

Trail News, 9 December 2008

Trail To Kaw Heritage Park Completed. Superintendent Scott Allen of the Neosho Valley Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy reports that the section of the Flint Hills Nature Trail from Council Grove and the 168-acre Kaw Heritage Park (Al-Le-Ga-Wa-Ho) is now complete. Limestone screenings were recently installed on the last half-mile of the rail-trail, but they have yet to compact down. By spring, they will compact down into a hard surface suitable for bicycling and walking.

The trail segment links up with the Kanza Heritage Trail at the park. Plans call for developing the trail from the park to Bushong. The latter segment is a very scenic section of the Flint Hills and an old railroad bed cut in a hillside could be turned into a tunnel. Finally, the trail section from Bushong east eight miles to Admire is also now complete. For more information about the park go visit the web site.

Osawatomie To Ottawa Trail Nearing Completion. Superintendent Doug Walker of the Osawatomie Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy reports that the division has recently laid 4.7 miles of limestone screenings in Franklin County. Soon another .6 mile of screenings will be installed southeast of Rantoul. This means that once the division finishes decking and railing bridges, the 12.5-mile trail segment from Osawatomie to past Peoria will be complete, leaving only five miles to reach Ottawa. It is hoped that the City of Ottawa will develop the trail within the city limits where it links up with the 52-mile north-south Prairie Spirit Trail. This Oswatomie-Peoria trail segment is very scenic and much of it has a tree canopy along the Marais des Cygnes River. Funds are needed to complete the final trail segment to Ottawa. To contribute to this worthwhile project, go to www.kanzatrails.org.

Handguns To Be Allowed On Tallgrass Prairie Preserve Trails. A last-minute rule change by the Bush Administration will allow trail users on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve to carry loaded, concealed weapons. Under the new rule, hikers will be able to carry loaded, concealed guns in most national parks and national wildlife refuges if the person has a state permit to do so and if the state the national park is in allows conceal and carry (Kansas is one of the states). This overturns a 25-year-old ban which was instituted by the Reagan Administration because park users were shooting wildlife indiscriminately.

Kurt Repanshek reports in National Parks Traveler (12/05/08): “According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there were 1.65 violent crimes per 100,000 national park visitors in 2006 — making national parks some of the safest places in the United States. Those opposed to the rule change say the new regulation could increase the risk for impulse shootings of wildlife, and risk the safety of visitors and rangers.”

Fifty-one US senators supported the rule change which was opposed by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. Due to the lengthy rule-making process it cannot be overturned for months if not years. The rule will not apply to national park unit buildings such as those at the Fort Larned National Historic Site and Fort Scott NHS. Plus, the state’s four national wildlife refuges already allow hunting.

Trails News, 15 December 2008

Kansas City Approves New Trails Plan. On November 20, the city council of Kansas City, Missouri finally approved a new plan to expand the city’s miniscule trail system. Trails KC! Plan will serve both recreational and transportation purposes and will create 230 miles of multi-use trails and regional connections to suburban trail systems (as planned by MetroGreen). The trail system will be implemented over 15 years. Many bicyclists and trail advocates were involved in the planning process. Several trails are currently under construction or planned, including a two-mile trail in Hodge Park in the Northland. Learn more at Trails KC!, including maps of current and future trails.

New State Trail Guide Availble. The Kansas Trails Council (KTC) has published A Thousand Mile Adventure, a map guide to trails in the Sunflower State. The guides are available at travel information centers, state park offices, Corps of Engineers offices and visitors and convention bureaux. (Source: KTC newsletter, December, 2008)

Melvern City Trail Under Construction. The City of Melvern, with the help of volunteers and the Kansas Trails Council, is building a trail called the River Park Trail along the scenic Marais des Cygnes River. It is expected that the opening will be in April, 2009. (Source: KTC newsletter, Dec. 2008)

Migrant’s Mile Nature Trail At Quiviria National Wildlife Refuge. Migrant’s Mile Nature Trail, located three miles north of Little Salt Marsh, has two boardwalks through cattails of the wetlands. The refuge spans 22,135 acres, one third of which are wetlands. It was designated as a Wetland of International Importance in 2002 by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. This is a great birding site: American White Pelican, Snow, White front and Canada Geese, Sandhill Cranes, and other species.

New Trails Under Construction At Lawrence Nature Reserve. Work is underway to build two nature trails at the new 160-acre McColl Nature Reserve three miles north of Lawrence. According to Mike Goodwin with the Kansas Trails Council, this stacked loop trail will connect to an overlook shelter and a 2,689-foot concrete walking trail. The southern loop will be completed this month and the northern route will be completed in early 2009 as an Eagle Scout project. (Source: KTC newsletter, Dec. 2008)

Holiday Gifts For Trails. As a trails supporter, please consider giving a contribution to your favorite trail organization this holiday season. Some ideas: Kansas Trails Council, Sunflower Recreational Trails, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, Short Grass Prairie Trail, Inc., Prairie Travelers, Inc., etc.

Kansas Trails News, 23 December 2008

Kanza Receives $20,000 Grant. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has received a $20,000 grant from the Lattner Family Foundation of Delray, Florida. The grant will be used to help fill in the gaps between the developed sections of the Flint Hills Nature Trail and Landon Nature Trail. The foundation has been a regular and generous donor to rails-to-trails projects in the Sunflower State.

New Stimulus Bill Should Fund Trails. Congress is expected to pass a new stimulus bill in early 2009 totaling nearly $850 billion. Much of the funding will be for financing America’s infrastructure. The fact is: multi-use paths are an important component of the nation’s infrastructure. Without federal funding, it is very difficult to conserve out-of-service rail corridors, many of which have been railbanked. Under railbanking, the transportation easements are maintained until a national emergency or energy crisis necessitates restoration of rail service. During the interim they can be used as trails. State and Federal officials need to hear from trail advocates if trail projects are to get even a sliver of the pie. U.S. Transportation Secretary-elect Rep. Ray LaHood (451 6th Street NW Washington, DC 20004) should hear from trail advocates that part of the stimulus funds should finance multi-use pathways. He also needs to know that Transportation Enhancement (TE) funding should be restored to its pre-2001 level. TE funds provide the bulk of federal funding for trails. Finally, Governor Kathleen Sebelius (State Capitol, Ste. 2125, 300 SW 10th St., Topeka, KS 66612) and Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller (700 SW Harrison St., Topeka, KS 66603) need to hear from trail proponents that stimulus monies should fund worthwhile TE projects which were not funded the last few years due to funding cuts. Without vocal support for trails, this huge windfall will only go toward building highways. Also, trail advocates can visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy web site to sign a petition.