November 9, 2011
Derby’s Outstanding Trail Network
Family Circle magazine named Derby in 2007 as one of the Top 10 places to rear a family. With almost 20 miles of hike and bike paths that connect parks, schools, a recreation center, eating establishments and shopping, Derby is a fun place for recreation. BeHealthyDerby.com
Landon Trail Update
John Purvis, Landon Trail Superintendent, reports the current status of the Landon Trail project: Beginning at 15th & Monroe or in front of the Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site to SE 45th Street is open with concrete path. (4.5 MILES) SE 45th to 51St street is under construction. Latest information has the City finishing this short stretch by the spring. (.5 MILES) 51st Street to SE. 77th& Croco – Open with screenings. (5 MILES) Croco to 89th Street open with bladed surface. (3 MILES) 89th to Boundary of Clinton Lake Wildlife Area. Ready to open December 2011 with bladed surface. (1 MILE). West boundary of Clinton Lake Wildlife Area to Osage County Line, including across the Clinton Lake Wildlife Area only needs 3 bridges with handrailings installed. (bridge decks are all concreted). Open to Osage County Line this spring 2012. Approximately 16+ miles. Total
Ottawa Opens New Recreation Center
”Ottawa Recreation Commission held a grand opening Sept. 24 for its new 25,000 square-foot center. The $2.75 million facility—called the Goppert building—includes a gym with retractable basketball goals, a volleyball system, a multi-purpose room with kitchen, a three-lane elevated walking/jogging track, cardio workout area, open mezzanine space for social or group activities along a lobby and administrative offices. The building was constructed on five acres that were donated by USD 290 and is within walking distance of the high school and middle school. Ottawa Recreation Commission, USD 290 and others, including the Sunflower Foundation, partnered to also build a trail that connects the schools with the recreation center. The facility is the first free community recreation center open to the public in Ottawa and use will be shared with USD 290 and Ottawa University.”
Source: KRPA TODAY, Fall 2011
Flint Hills Discovery Center Nearing Completion
”The Flint Hills Discovery Center, a 35,000 square feet facility that celebrates the geology, biology and cultural history of the Flint Hills of Kansas, is scheduled to be opened in April, 2012. The facility, under the direction of the Manhattan Parks and Recreation, will include over 10,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, an “immersive” multi-media experience, classrooms, gardens café and store. The building is located at the arrival gateway to downtown Manhattan and is the centerpiece to downtown growth and redevelopment that includes several new hotels and a conference center.”
“The building is made of local limestone, layered in striated patterns that are reminiscent of the hills themselves. The stone façade is complimented by a glass cylinder lobby tower, with interior balcony that overlooks the second and third floors. Visitors will be greeted with an overview of the Flint Hills story that begins with the formation of the hills from fossilized organisms of an inland sea some 250 million years ago. For additional information visit flinthillsdiscovery.org.
Source: KRPA TODAY, Fall 2011
Of course, nearby is the 8,600-acre Konza Prairie with its network of hiking trails where visitors can actually explore the Flint Hills. See: keep.konza.ksu.edu
Buffalo Bill Center Under Way?
The status of the Buffalo Bill Visitor/Cultural Center project near Oakley is not known. KDOT approved in 2010 a federal Transportation Enhancements s grant to build the center. That is where William Cody had a contest with another buffalo hunter to claim the moniker “Buffalo Bill”. Cody shot 69 and Bill Comstock shot 46 in one day. Cody killed buffalo for food and not hides. He was paid to obtain buffalo meat for railroad crews and the cavalry.
Perhaps, Abilene should obtain a grant to build a visitor/cultural center for Wild Bill Hickok. He was actually a more important and famous Old West figure than Buffalo Bill.
Kansas Wetlands Education Center Wows Visitors
“The Kansas Wetlands Education Center recently opened in the Cheyenne Bottoms with a nature trail, family-friendly hands-on exhibits and classroom programs. Admission is free. On-site naturalists can direct you to that day’s birding hot spots. “ Source: Kansas Official Visitors Guide 2011-2012
Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art Opens In Ozarks
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art just opened in Bentonville, Ark. in the Ozark Mountains. Built by billionaire Alice Walton a trail connects the museum with the town square. Below is taken from the website:
The trails and grounds of Crystal Bridges will be a must-see part of the Museum experience. More than 3.5 miles of trails are planned to wind among the streams, ponds, wetlands, native plants, and sculpture on the Museum’s 120-acre site. Designed to spark the imagination, the trails will help guests form connections to the land and its history, as well as learn about art and Arkansas plant life.
For more information see: crystalbridges.org
Trans Canada Trail To Open In 2017
”Everything about the Trans Canada Trail is huge. At 16,5000 kilometers (9,900 miles), it is already the world’s longest trail. When completed in 2017, the corridor will stretch 22,500 kilometers (13,500 miles), from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and from the United States border to the Arctic Ocean. More than 400 local trails compose the overall pathway, which links more than 1,000 communities. (Many of the trails are rail-trails)…When completed, TCT will be within a half-hour’s drive for 34 million Canadians…Finishing the trail, however, will cost about $40 million because much of the remaining work is through the Rocky Mountains.”
—Rails-to-Trails Magazine, Winter 2011
October 10, 2011
Kaw River State Park In Topeka
The Kaw River State Park in Topeka is now one year old. It is the only urban state park and though it is relatively small at 76 acres, it provides a near-wilderness experience. The park is located just west of Cedar Crest, the governor’s mansion. The Kansas Trails Council has built a wonderful trail network for hiking and mountain biking along side a steep oak-hickory forest hillside. A boat ramp allows boaters to access the Kaw River. For more information, check out the brochure.
“Pedal Power Tour” At Marquette This Weekend
The following is taken from a brochure:
The Marquette Chamber of Commerce and Harley’s Bicycles of Hutchinson is sponsoring:
“The Pedal Power Tour” in conjunction with “Autumn in the Valley”. Saturday October 15, 2011 at 2:00 PM.
Cost: $20 per person day of ride. $15 if pre-registered by October 8th. Family (3 or more) $15 per person.
To pre-register send entry fee to Dennis Swisher PO Box 172, Marquette, KS 67464. Make checks payable to the Marquette Chamber of Commerce.
Registration day of ride: starts at 1:00 PM in downtown Marquette, KS.
“The Pedal Power Tour” begins at 2:00 PM. Miles: 10 or 33 miles.
The Family ride “Out & Back” is a 10-mile flat ride. The “Full ride” is a 33-mile loop through mostly flat terrain with some rolling hills.
Safety: Helmets are advised but not required. All minors must be accompanied by an adult. SAG Stops will be provided. T-shirts: will be made onsite day of the ride.
October 3, 2011
Trails For Good Health
Obesity is soaring among children which is causing a variety of health problems early in life. Trails promote good health because they entice children to exercise for health. Traveling on a trail becomes an adventure for children because they don’t know what they will encounter around the next bend. This gives them a sense of adventure and exploration. Meanwhile, they get plenty of exercise outside in the great outdoors. The new slogan is: “No Child Left Behind”.
Motel Provides Bikes For Guests
The Holiday Inn Express in south Lawrence provides bicycles for guests to ride on the adjacent SLT Hike and Bike Path. The path goes west to Clinton Lake where there are mt. biking and hiking trails.
KC Rally Calls For More Bike Trails
From the KC Star (9-24-11):
Kansas City rally calls for more bike trails and sidewalks
By KAREN DILLON
The Kansas City Star
Promoters of sidewalks, bike lanes and clean air carried their message on foot and bicycle from Union Station to City Hall on Saturday.
At the end of their jaunt, more than 40 people gathered on the steps of City Hall to petition the government to increase the number of bicycle trails and sidewalks as part of the Get Moving Kansas City rally.
They were greeted by four council members — Jan Marcason, Jim Glover, Scott Taylor and Scott Wagner — plus Jackson County Legislator Scott Burnett and a representative of U.S. House member Emanuel Cleaver.
“Kansas City is one of the most sprawled out cities in the country,” grassroots activist John Kurmann told the crowd, and that means more driving time per person and more pollution.
Get Moving Kansas City was part of climate rallies around the globe Saturday, with thousands of people calling for climate change solutions.
In July 2008, the City Council passed a resolution to implement Kansas City’s climate change plan, Kurmann said. That plan included fixing sidewalks and building bike trails. But the plan was mostly shelved after the market crash later that year.
“We need to be proactive now instead of waiting for a major crisis,” Kurmann said. “We need to move beyond fossil fuels.”
The group’s proposal includes:
- Dedicating 1 percent for biking and 2 percent for walking in the transportation infrastructure budget.
- Building at least 25 miles of new bike lanes per year. In addition, the BikeKC Plan should be fully developed, and proposed routes should be published on the Internet for public comment.
- Implementing the city’s “Livable Streets” policy in the next five years in important pedestrian areas such as the River Market, downtown, Westport and the Plaza.
“Our heart is with you,” Marcason said. “It makes triple bottom-line sense.”
The council members agreed that the proposals are worthy and said sidewalks are essential because many people in the inner city, especially on the East Side, don’t have cars.
Taylor said another reason to build new sidewalks and trails is to attract families.
“We are in competition with other communities that do have trails and sidewalks,” Taylor said. “These goals are a way to start the process.”
Editor’s Note: The MetroGreen Plan which calls for building a network of interconnected trails was announced with great fanfare 20 years ago. Much has been done, but much still has to be accomplished to fulfill the vision.
Sunflower To Hold Annual Meeting Oct. 29
Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will hold its Annual Meeting on Saturday, October 29, in beautiful downtown Cottonwood Falls, located in the heart of the scenic Flint Hills. The meeting will begin at 11:00 a.m. in the historic Grand Central Hotel. Participants will order lunch at 12:00 noon. A key topic will be the status of the six railbanking initiatives. The meeting will end at 2:00 p.m., followed by a field trip to the trails at the nearby Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. Come join in the fun!
Kanza To Hold Annual Meeting
Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 5 in the Osage County Senior Center in Osage City (604 Market Street). All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. A reception will begin at 11:00 a.m. with a light lunch buffet at 11:30. The meeting will follow the lunch.
Falun Classic & Marquette Mini Bicycle Rides Oct. 9
The Falun Classic and Marquette Mini Bicycle Rides will be held October 9 in Lindsborg. The rides begin at 1:30 pm at Swensson Park in Lindsborg. They will end with a cookout in Swensson Park. The Falun Classic is a fun, 32-mile ride on blacktop. The Marquette Mini is a relaxed, 25-mile ride on blacktop with a sag stop in downtown Marquette. For more information: email@example.com or Falunclassic@gmail.com
September 2, 2011
Covered Bridge Nearing Completion
Larry Ross with Prairie Travelers which manages the eight-mile-long Prairie Sunset Trail (www.prairietravelers.org) reports that the Cecile Kellenbarger Memorial Covered Bridge is nearing completion just east of Garden Plain (west of Wichita). The bridge is being constructed to honor Cecile Kellenbarger who died earlier this year, and was instrumental in building the Prairie Sunset Trail. When completed there will be two covered bridges on rail-trails in Kansas. The other covered bridge is north of Marysville on the Blue River Rail Trail.
Osage City Trail Work Day A Success
Karen DeOrnellas, Lyco Division Superintendent with the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that “about 35 people turned out as volunteer trail builders on a hot Sunday, July 31, in Osage City to clean up the Flint Hills Trail section in the city. Dump trucks, tractors, trailers, pole saws, chain saws and loppers were operated by a diverse group of folks with a desire to make the trail a usable route to hike, bike and ride. By the end of the day that’s exactly what had happened. A couple remaining challenges are the lack of a trail crossing over the active BNSF line and a small open tie bridge needing a solid deck. Both can be bypassed without detouring a great distance. The day also awakened an interest in the trail and it’s anticipated that local coordinators will continue the work begun on July 31.”
Virgil Scheid, Osage County Superintendent, reports that crushed limestone screenings are now down on the Flint Hills Trail from the new US 75 pedestrian/bike bridge to one mile west of the bridge. So, now there is an eight-mile continuous stretch of completed trail between the trailhead southeast of Vassar (south of Pomona Lake) to one mile west of the bridge.
TE Program May End
From the Lawrence Journal-World (8-04-11):
“One way the city has paid for brick street projects in the past is through a state/federal program called Transportation Enhancement Grants. In addition to brick streets, Lawrence has used the grant to help restore the Union Pacific Depot, build the Burroughs Creek Rail Trail, the Clinton Parkway Shared-Use Path, and other projects. But it looks like that will be the case no more.
The state has announced funding concerns, especially at the federal level, means they won’t accept any grant applications for the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years. City Manager David Corliss said he’s not planning for the grant program to return. That may be a blow to the efforts of a group of Lawrence residents to restore the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence. A Transportation Enhancement grant was one of the leading candidates to fund the several hundred thousand dollars in repairs needed to the building at Seventh and New Jersey streets.”
Landon Trail In Topeka Update
Construction on the Landon Trail within the city limits of Topeka continues to be on schedule. The concrete 10-foot-wide path is now completed to SE 37th St. and Kansas Ave. The City leases 4.6 miles of the 38-mile Landon Nature Trail from Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy. When completed, the Landon Trail in Topeka will stretch between near S.E. 17th and Monroe and S.W. 45th and Topeka Boulevard.
Be A Facebook Friend Of The Flint Hills Trail
Become a friend of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy on Facebook and get up-to-date information about the Flint Hills Nature Trail and the Landon Nature Trail.
Flint Hills Trail Progress
Scott Allen and Karen DeOrnellas with KRTC report that once limestone screenings are installed on two sections of the Flint Hills Nature Trail totaling about three miles and two bridges are railed, mt. bikers and equestrians will be able to travel nearly 55 miles from Council Grove east to past Vassar (south of Pomona Lake). Funds still has to be found to complete the two sections.
Bike Club At Lawrence School
Lawrence’s Prairie Park School now has a bike club to encourage students to exercise for health. No other details are available at this time.
Kanza To Hold Annual Meeting
Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 5 in the Osage County Senior Center in Osage City (604 Market Street). All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. A reception will begin at 11:00 a.m. with a light lunch buffet at 11:30. The meeting will follow the lunch.
Western Sky Trail Update
Larry Ross, Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy President, reports that “the recent meeting in Chanute indicated that people are eager to build the Western Sky Trail between Chanute and Fredonia. Local people have volunteered to be Project Manager, Public Information Specialist (spokesperson) and Director of Development (fundraiser).” An Eagle Scout may organize a digital survey of the corridor. The 23-mile out-of-service rail corridor was recently railbanked by the Conservancy.
Prairie Spirit Trail Designated “Trail Of The Month”
The Prairie Spirit Trail was designated the Trail of the Month for August by the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. According to the website www.railtrails.org, the trail “offers visitors a taste of rural, middle America at its finest—rolling pastures, lazy streams, wooded ravines, friendly townspeople, colorful wildflowers, big farms and an endless sky.” For more information go to railstotrails.org.
Blue River Rail Trail Progress
Steve O’Neal with Marshall County Connections reports that limestone screenings have been laid for an additional three miles of the Blue River Rail Trail. This makes a total of five miles with crushed limestone. “Trail users are already using the new section, says O’Neal. “This is a very scenic trail segment and will be very popular.” When completed, the trail will stretch 13 miles north to the Nebraska state line where it will join with the Homestead Trail now under development to Lincoln.
July 26, 2011
Sunflower To Hold Summer Meeting
The Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its summer meeting on Saturday, August 6 in downtown Chanute. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. Chanute recently completed its 1.5-mile Katy Trail (a rail-trail) on the eastern edge of town. Now, plans are underway to build the Western Sky Trail (also a rail-trail) 23 miles between Chanute and Fredonia. A public meeting to discuss this project will be held at 10:00 am at Olpie’s Pizza on Main St. After the meeting, SRTC will hold its meeting at 12:00 noon in the same location. A field trip to the Katy Trail will follow the meeting at 2:30 pm.
KC Bike/Ped Advocacy Group Forms
Below are excerpts from a mailing from BikeWalkKC:
BikeWalkKC advocates for cyclist and pedestrian-friendly facilities and policies, encouraging cities and communities to fund and build trails, bike lanes and sidewalks. We initiate policy change, like Complete Streets and development code reform and support the development of the MetroGreen system via regional funding options and/or a land trust organization.
BikeWalkKC envisons a Kansas City Region where, in 10 years:
- Bicycling and walking rates exceed the national average.
- 75% of metro residents live in a Bicycle and Pedestrian-friendly Community and have a Complete Streets Policy.
- Trails can connect. Kansas City is the natural meeting point for the famous Katy Trail State Park and Kansas’ growing Flint Hills Nature Trail. We will work with local, state, and national leaders to fund and build the trail while preserving space for a future transit system.
- The regional will have 1,000 miles of new sidewalks and 500 miles of new bike lanes.
- All local governments enforce strict sidewalk snow removal ordinances.
For more information go to www.BikeWalkKC.org.
Conservancy To Build Osage City Trail
The Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has announced that it will build the two-mile segment of the Flint Hills Nature Trail lying within Osage City. The newly-elected Osage City Council recently voted to rescind a previous City Council’s decision to build a ten-foot-wide concrete path.
Karen DeOrnellas, a Conservancy director, recently said that “grassroots citizen support for the trail is still strong within the community, so we will go ahead and build the trail segment using crushed limestone as the trail surface. We can build the trail for approximately $30,000, so we hope the City will contribute financially since it will enhance the quality of life of the community.”
A volunteer day to work on the trail section starts at 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 31. Volunteers will meet in a grassy area on the south edge of the trail between 4th and 5th Streets, about a block north of Lakin St. in Osage City. Volunteers are asked to bring loppers, string trimmers, chain saws, etc. if possible.
Trail Bridge Brings Business Boom In Iowa
Below is an excerpt from American Trails (July 2011): “New numbers are in and the new High Trestle Trail is an early success. The $14 million trail and high bridge between Madrid & Woodward officially opened in April. Trail counts show more than 3,000 people are crossing the bridge each week. Businesses said people are leaving a lot of money along the trail.”
Read more: Bike Bridge Brings Business Boom
Hybrid Traffic Light For Landon Trail In Topeka
Trail crossing to get hybrid sign
By THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL, June 19, 2011
Walkers and bicyclists on the Landon Trail in south Topeka will get to use the first hybrid beacon of its kind in the city to help ensure their safety while crossing one of the city’s busiest streets.
City traffic engineer Linda Voss said the signal, in the 100 block of S.E. 29th, will become operational by the end of the summer or early fall.
The beacon, which resembles a small traffic signal, was installed recently. Its lights are covered until it becomes functional.
Similar hybrid beacons are in use in other cities across the nation where large numbers of pedestrians or bicyclists use trails to cross busy streets.
The nearest such beacon to Topeka is found in Lawrence, Voss said.
The signal was necessitated because of the anticipated completion this summer of a new $1.1 million concrete portion of the Landon Trail. Funds for the trail work came from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
When completed, the Landon Trail in Topeka will stretch on ground that once carried the old Missouri Pacific railroad tracks between areas near S.E. 17th and Monroe and S.W. 45th and Topeka Boulevard.
South of S.E. 17th Street, the Landon Trail connects with the Shunga Trail, another concrete path in the city.
Most of the Shunga Trail parallels the Shunganunga Creek. The Shunga Trail goes under major streets, beneath bridges that span the Shunganunga Creek.
City officials said the Landon Trail either had to be rerouted to 29th and S. Kansas Avenue, about a block west of the hybrid beacon location, or have a controlled crossing to keep it on its primary path at S.E. 29th Street.
Unlike conventional traffic signals, hybrid beacons are designed only for pedestrians and bicyclists and should reduce the amount of time vehicles need to stop.
Once a pedestrian or bicyclist presses a button on the hybrid beacon pole, a yellow light will flash for three seconds for motorists on S.E. 29th. A solid yellow light then will be on for four seconds. Pedestrians must wait during this time.
When the yellow light changes to red, pedestrians and bicyclists can cross S.E. 29th. The solid red light remains on for seven seconds.
The red light then will flash off and on for 14 seconds. When the red light flashes, motorists can proceed on S.E. 29th across the path provided it is safe to do so.
Voss said this is a change from signals that rotate through the green, yellow and red cycle, as it should cut down the wait time for motorists.
In some cases, Voss said, a pedestrian at a conventional traffic signal might be “100 to 200 feet” up the block before the light changes back to green for motorists.
In this way, Voss said, the hybrid beacon “is beneficial to both pedestrians and vehicles.”
“Once a pedestrian has cleared the street, and the light is flashing red, you can go,” Voss said. “You don’t have to wait.”
Several factors were in place to prompt the city to install the hybrid beacon in the 100 block of S.E. 29th.
Voss said that portion of S.E. 29th sees about 14,000 vehicles a day — around 1,200 per hour during rush periods.
The area also is congested with entrances and exits to many businesses along S.E. 29th.
Additionally, S.E. 29th has a railroad bridge and a slight curve just east of where the hybrid beacon is located.
As there were few gaps in traffic on S.E. 29th, Voss said, city traffic officials determined the hybrid beacon was a good way to allow for safe passage of those on the trail.
Terry Bertels, director of Parks and Recreation of Topeka, said the current phase of Landon Trail work began this spring. It will connect the concrete portion of the trail from S.E. 25th to S.E. 45th.
The trail then goes east toward Lawrence from S.E. 45th and also has a spur that goes south and west toward Osage City.
Because it is part of the rails to trails initiative, the Landon Trail is built on areas that once carried railroads. As a result, much of the ground is solid, and many of the railroad bridges have been redecked and equipped with new sides.
June 16, 2011
Chanute’s Katy Trail
The City of Chanute has built a rail-trail on the old KATY line called the KATY Hike/Bike Trail. The Kansas-Missouri-Texas Railway (MK&T and affectionately called the KATY), built in 1870 utilizing a federal land grant, was abandoned in 1969. Trails advocate Frank Janzen reports that the 10-foot-wide asphalt path proceeds north 1.25 miles from the KATY Park on the eastern edge of Chanute. The rock ballast on the old railroad bed is still in place for nearly one-half mile south through the 28-acre park. So, it’s possible the trail could be extended south. Also, another proposal is to extend the KATY Hike/Bike Trail north to Humboldt where it could connect with the Prairie Spirit Trail Southern Extension now under development. Since the KATY line has been abandoned and the land has reverted to the adjacent landowners, conservation easements would have to be obtained from willing donors or sellers.
(See also: The Katy Trail in Kansas — What Could Have Been)
Progress On Landon Trail In Topeka
John Purvis, Landon Trail Division Superintendent, reports that contractors for the City of Topeka, “appear to have all but one bridge rebuilt with concrete decks. They have cleared brush all the way to 45th Street. They are replacing culverts along the way also. It appears that they are well on their way to having the project completed to the south city limit and link up with the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy section near milepost 5.5 north of Herrmans Trailhead, by this fall. It is very exciting and will bring many new visitors to the entire KRTC Trail System.”
Concrete has been poured to 37th Street. The 10-foot-wide path intersects the Shunga Trail at a bicycle roundabout near 20th & Kansas Avenue.
Update On Redbud Trail In Wichita
Construction has begun on a segment of the 10-mile Redbud Trail which stretches through Wichita to Andover with completion scheduled for the summer of 2012. The 2.5-mile trail segment is being built in an out-of-service railroad corridor and will run from the Canal Route to the Wichita State campus passing Wesley Medical Center, MacDonald Golf Course, the Kenmar neighborhood and more.
The city is also finishing its design of a path that will link the Gypsum Creek Trail to the Arkansas River path via Chapin and Garvey parks in south Wichita. It is waiting final approval and funding by KDOT. The three-mile path will link west and east Wichita, allowing cyclists to bypass traffic. Chapin Park is a new park located on a former landfill near the Arkansas River.
The National Park Service website provides this definition for “Blueways”:
Water Trails/Blueways: National Park Service Partnerships and Resources
Water trails, or Blueways, embody the nexus between rivers and trails. They provide recreational boating opportunities along a river, lake, canal or coastline; most water trails are managed in public-private partnership with the philosophies of environmental stewardship, environmental education, and accessibility for all users. The NPS has helped communities create water trails nationwide for almost two decades.
Fitness Trails With A Twist
Below is an excerpt from KRPA Today (the magazine for members of the Kansas Recreation and Parks Assn.)
The old fitness trails of the 1970s are getting a new look because of the benefits they provide. Gone are the traditional exercise stations with jumping jacks, sit-ups, and push-ups. Today’s play trails offer interactive exhibits throughout the path. Each station has a theme, coordinating activities, and informational signage. Kids learn about transformation of a butterfly while climbing on a caterpillar, gliding down a wing of the insect, or spinning in a chrysalis.
It’s a concept suitable for the entire family. Each play pocket features critters or local flora and fauna. Kids are encouraged to hang from a spider web, ride on a huge ant, or crawl through honeycombs. The relatively new trend is gaining exposure and interests thanks to the interaction it creates amongst families as they discuss their activities on the path to the next pocket.
The Springfield-Green County Park Board and the Springfield School District in Missouri collaborated on the area’s first play trail. The trail includes several play pockets located along South Creek Trail, which runs through Nathanial Greene/Close Memorial Park.
Six Ways Park Systems Can Promote Health And Wellness
The following is excerpted from Land & People, the magazine of the Trust for Public Land.
Six Ways Park Systems Can Promote Health And Wellness
- Provide an abundant variety of part activities and programming.
- Reduce auto traffic and other stress factors in parks.
- Offer beautiful, well-designed parks and playgrounds with good signage.
- Create easily accessible parks close to where people live, work and shop.
- Link parks to enhance their use for recreation and nonmotorized transportation.
- Maximize health benefits through partnerships with friends-of-park groups, hospitals, foundations, and other municipal agencies.
Source: Fitness Zones to the Medical Mile: How Urban Park Systems Can Best Promote Health and Wellness.
Nebraska’s “Boots, Scoot and Boogie” Program
Mary Hanson, Outdoor Recreation Planner for the National Park Service in Omaha, reports that Nebraska equestrians and others have developed a “Boots, Scoot and Boogie” program. This is an educational program for equestrians to be good neighbors to other trail users. Under the program, equestrians stop whenever they see horse apples (even if not from their own horse) and kick them off to the side with their cowboy boots, climb back into the saddle and ride on down the trail. Fast moving bicyclists often cannot avoid horse apples and do not appreciate running over them though they are mostly hay residue.
New Film About Oregon Trail Released
Peter Bradshaw movie reviewer with The Guardian (UK) says “Michelle Williams stars in a bleak, enigmatic and masterful western about families on the Oregon Trail. Kelly Reichardt’s gaunt, mysterious and superbly calibrated movie about pioneers and the old American west appears to have come from another age – from the early days of Malick or Antonioni.”
To read the whole review of “Meek’s Cutoff” go to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/apr/14/meeks-cutoff-review
June 6, 2011
Investing In Trails Benefits KC Region
The Star’s editorial | Investing in trails benefits Kansas City region
Walkers, runners and bicyclists this spring are enjoying a newly opened, 2.5-mile stretch of the Little Blue Trace Trail as it winds under Interstate 70 and through neighborhoods in eastern Jackson County. There’s more to come, too, as crews continue the pathway to the south.
Meanwhile, more miles of trails are being built and connected in the Northland, while lengthy paths still attract lots of people in Johnson County.
Overall, the region’s system of trails and greenways has made encouraging progress in recent years, with more than 200 miles now available. Still, that’s nowhere near the ambitious goals set out two decades ago in the MetroGreen plan, which outlines a network stretching 1,100 miles.
On Wednesday, several parks officials will be part of a public discussion about MetroGreen and its future. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Kansas City’s Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. The officials are Mark McHenry, Bill Maasen and Brian Nowotny, directors of the Kansas City, Johnson County and Platte County parks and recreation departments, respectively. Admission is free. Call 816-701-3407 for reservations or more information.
A more extensive trails system would be a tremendous asset for area residents. Parks leaders, neighborhood groups and private-sector contributors must keep working toward that aim. At some point — dare we dream? — a small regional tax may even help complete the MetroGreen plan.
Prairie Spirit Trail To Be Extended
Allen County Thrive and the Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, jointly announced this week that the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail will be extended south 6.5 miles from Iola. This addition will follow the regulations of the National Trails Act and will extend along a 6.5-mile out-of-service rail line between Iola and Humboldt.
“We are very excited about extending the Prairie Spirit Trail to Humboldt,” offered David Toland, Allen County Thrive Executive Director. “This will not only let people travel safely between the two communities, it will encourage people to exercise for health. It will also allow people to gather for festivals and informal socializing and, thus, build a sense of community.”
Combined with the 1.5-mile segment the City of Iola is developing within its city limits, the Prairie Spirit Trail will now be expanded by an additional eight miles. Not only will it provide a safe place for bicycling, walking, jogging, and bird watching, it will improve the overall quality of life in the communities by making the region a more attractive place in which to live and work.
“We are now counting on local groups and individuals to come forward to build this scenic trail segment, said Clark Coan, Public Information Specialist for Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy. “The trail will be similar to the existing Prairie Spirit Trail with its crushed limestone surface. However, we will be able to do it much cheaper using local volunteer labor and donations. We estimate the project will cost $60,000. When it is complete, we hope to turn it over to another entity such as the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.”
“The Conservancy’s mission is to work in partnership with communities to transform out-of-service rail corridors into outstanding recreational trails which will provide a place for families, youth and seniors to walk, bicycle or jog safely away from traffic, said Coan. “We believe that if we are able to get just one child out on a trail that, as a result, develops a love of nature and exercise, we have been successful.”
A series of informational meetings will be held in the two communities this summer and fall.
New Wichita Trail Connects Existing Trails
A new Wichita Trail which connects the existing K-96 Bike Path and Canal Route Bike Path opened May 20. The McAdams Bike Path was constructed with American Recovery and Reinvestment funds. The interconnected recreational path system now provides 31 continuous miles of walking, jogging and bicycling pathways from Central and K-96 to a trailhead near Cessna and Planview parks.
Trail Between Larned And Ft. Larned In Planning Stages
Mary Hanson, Outdoor Recreation Planner with the National Park Service Regional Office in Omaha, reports that efforts are underway to build a trail from Larned west six miles along Pawnee Creek to the Ft. Larned National Historic Site. All of the landowners contacted so far have agreed to permit a trail. Two have yet to be contacted.
Short Line Rails With Trails Possibilities Open Up
John Rosacker, Director of the Bureau of Rail Affairs, reports that WATCO Companies based in Pittsburg, Kansas, is now amenable to Rails WITH Trails projects. Since most of the corridors are 100’ in width, recreational trails can be built within the corridor with rail service continuing. Rosacker said that the several short lines owned and operated by WATCO have low rail traffic which would reduce potential conflicts with trail users. He also said that he doesn’t foresee any future abandonments in the state except for one.
Larry Ross, President of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, says this development “opens up new possibilities in the state for linking existing rail-trails. It could help us achieve our goal of an interconnected network of rail-trails in the Sunflower State.” The only drawback is the cost. Building a totally new trail surface base and new bridges could be cost-prohibitive.
Slough Creek Point Trail At Perry Lake
There is a little-known recreational trail at Perry Lake called the Slough Creek Point Educational Trail. The two-loop trail is located adjacent to Slough Creek on the southeast side of the Perry Lake. The two interconnecting paved paths primarily traverse grassland. One ends up at an overlook above the lake. Each path is about one-half mile long. To reach the trail go north on Ferguson Rd. from the town of Perry for 2.5 miles. Then take Marion Road for 5.5 miles. At 70th St. go west or left and follow the signs.
May 20, 2011
Flint Hills Nature Trail Progresses
Karen DeOrnellas and Scott Allen, Flint Hills Nature Trail division superintendents with Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, report that crushed limestone screenings have been installed on the former railroad bed from Bushong (north of Emporia) 4.5 miles to the Morris County line. By summer’s end, screenings will be down an additional 7 miles to the Allegawaho Kaw Heritage Park, located southeast of Council Grove for a total of 11 miles. The hard-packed limestone chip surface is suitable for road bicycles and wheelchairs.
Development of this section is a top priority due to its scenery and historic value. Completion of this segment will allow trail users to travel 24 miles from Admire to Council Grove, a national historic landmark and the last stop for obtaining supplies on the Santa Fe Trail. The section to be developed is of remarkable pristine prairie beauty as the rail-trail passes through deep cuts of tallgrass-covered Flint Hills. It also crosses a 230-foot bridge over highly scenic Rock Creek. Furthermore, Santa Fe Trail swales (commonly known as ruts) can be seen from portions of this trail section.
Union Ferry Branch Of Oregon Trail
For travelers on the Oregon Trail leaving Independence, the first place to get supplies was Union Town, which was located on top of hill 15 miles west of Topeka and one mile south of the Kansas River. The village had 300 people in 50 log houses. Most of inhabitants were Pottawatomie Indians. This was the Upper Crossing of the Kaw River. A ferry was established there and by 1850 it was a popular crossing point, though the majority crossed in what is now downtown Topeka. The Union Ferry Branch split off from the main Oregon Trail west of Big Springs and went southwest. It crossed the present-day Landon Nature Trail just south of the Kansas Turnpike and north of SE 42nd St. and then continued northwest. A sign announcing this crossing could be placed on the Landon Trail. Source: The Oregon Trail, David Dary (2004)
Special Lighted Path From KU To Downtown Lawrence Approved
Lawrence Journal-World, May 3, 2011:
A plan to improve pedestrian safety by building a lighted sidewalk between downtown and Kansas University is set to receive a major boost.
City commissioners at their meeting Tuesday are expected to approve a recommendation to award the project $137,010 in funding from the city’s allocation of the Community Development Block Grant program.
“We think this will create a safety-in-numbers type of environment,” said Mark Thiel, the city’s assistant director of public works. “If we can make this the main route for pedestrians between downtown and campus, we think that will improve safety.”
The path will start in South Park at the corner of Massachusetts and North Park streets. It will cut diagonally across the park until it connects with 12th Street. It then will travel along the north side of 12th Street until it reaches the edge of campus at Louisiana Street.
The project has been on the city’s drawing board for several years, but it has struggled to win funding. Kansas University has agreed to provide $120,000 and the city has committed $50,000 in funding from other sources. Thiel said the nearly $140,000 in CDBG funding will be enough to complete the project.
Work to begin installing lighting in South Park and to repair the existing sidewalk that runs along 12th Street should begin soon. Thiel expects to have lighting installed along the entire path by the time KU classes begin next fall.
Thiel said he believes the city has worked out a good compromise with neighbors, who previously had expressed concerns about adding lights to the neighborhood. The new lights will be high-efficiency LED-lights, similar to those being installed along Massachusetts Street. In addition, the lights will be on a low illumination setting until a sensor picks up motion along the sidewalk. Then the lights temporarily will increase to greater brightness.
The funding also will allow for two pedestrian-activated crossing signals to be installed along the path. Plans call for the signals — similar to what you see downtown near the outdoor aquatic center on Kentucky Street — at 12th and Tennessee and 12th and Kentucky streets.
Both city and university leaders have been pushing for the lighted pathway project as concerns of safety in the area have grown. The Oread neighborhood area has one of the higher rates of sexual assaults in the community, according to information compiled by the city. [ read more ]
KC Moving Toward Being Bicycle Friendly
The Star’s editorial | KC nabs bronze status as a bicycle-friendly city:
Three years ago, Kansas City was named one of the worst bicycling cities in the United States. Last week, the League of American Bicyclists gave the city a bronze rating as a bicycle-friendly community.
It’s a huge accomplishment. It wasn’t long ago that the color rating for Kansas City’s bike access wouldn’t be repeatable in pleasant society. Today, Kansas Citians who demanded better of their community — all share the credit, and should be proud.
The honor, the most recognized national designation for bike friendliness, recognizes that the city not only will have expanded from a pathetic 6.5 miles of bike lanes to 28 miles (or, as the city points out, 56 miles if you count lanes on both sides of the road), but also plans to add another 205 miles of signed bike-routes this summer. A year ago, The Star challenged this city to add 100 miles of bike lanes within a year, and we’re thrilled the city stepped up.
Now, this isn’t a job done. The incoming council and new Mayor Sly James must build on what is now a solid base. Especially with ever-rising gas prices and the need for exercise still important, alternative transportation must remain a priority. But that doesn’t diminish what has been accomplished in a very short time. Well done, Kansas City.
Flint Hills As Destination Place
The following is excerpted from the Lawrence Journal World (5-17-11):
The appeal of the hills, the last remnants of the tallgrass prairie and a cowboy culture can be the anchor to developing more hiking, bicycling and horse riding opportunities, Kansas Wildlife and Parks Secretary Robin Jennison said.
“Combine this resource with the history and heritage of the area, and we have something that is truly marketable,” Jennison said.
The Flint Hills stretch across most of eastern Kansas, from Marshall County in the north to the Kansas-Oklahoma border. It is home to the largest remaining area of tallgrass prairie.
One of the challenges in developing tourism in the region, is the lack of public access since there are few public lands in Kansas, Jennison said. He and Brownback said that will require working with private landowners to purchase easements for increased tourism opportunities. [ read more ]
Pedal Hopper A Smashing Success
The Pedal Hopper, a bar on wheels, is a success in Lawrence during the warm Spring weather. Sixteen passengers pedal (eight on one side facing each other) as though they are pedaling a bicycle. The owner steers and brakes while the passengers drink beer or soft drinks, sing along to music and hang onto the long wooden bar. The Pedal Pub travels around 5-8 miles per hour. The cost is less than $20 per person for a two-hour tour. Apparently only one other city in America (Minneapolis) has a pedal pub.
Birds Identified Along Landon Trail
Bird watcher Dan Larson of Berryton and a director of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy who volunteers on the Landon Trail reports that he has seen the following birds along the trail:
- Canada Goose
- Wood Duck
- Blue-winged Teal
- Wild Turkey
- Pied-billed Grebe
- Green Heron
- American Coot
- Eurasian Collared Dove
- Mourning Dove
- Barred Owl
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Downy Woodpecker
- Pileated Woodpecker
- Great-crested Flycatcher
- Red-eyed Vireo
- Blue Jay
- American Crow
- Tufted Titmouse
- House Wren
- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
- Swainson’s Thrush
- Brown Thrasher
- Northern Parula
- Yellow Warbler
- Common Yellowthroat
- Lark Sparrow
- Grasshopper Sparrow
- Northern Cardinal
- Rose-breasted Grosbeak
- Indigo Bunting
- Red-winged Blackbird
- Great-tailed Grackle
- Brown-headed Cowbird
- Baltimore Oriole
- American Goldfinch
May 2, 2011
Prairie Spirit Trail South Extension To Be Built
Efforts are underway to extend the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail from Iola to Humboldt. Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy assumed railbanking custodianship of the 6.5-mile out-of-service rail corridor in January. A series of informational meetings will be held in Humboldt this summer to inform the public and solicit input. A project development plan will be prepared.
“The excitement for this trail in Humboldt and Iola is very tangible, says Larry Ross, SRTC president.“One idea to promote the trail is for the mayors and middle students of each town to walk to the middle of the trail for a joint celebration.” The current plan calls for development of the trail using local resources and volunteer labor. Then the trail can be turned over to public agency which can manage and maintain it.
Bike Commuter Club
A novel idea was proposed at a trail stakeholders’ meeting held April 21 in Humboldt, Kansas:
Create a Bike Commuter Club in which bicyclists in Humboldt would meet at 7:00 am weekdays to commute together seven (7) miles to Iola for work. The club would provide support and networking, etc. for commuters. The concept is much like a Walking School Bus. A rail-trail is in the planning stages between the two towns, so it would be a safe and pleasant journey. If gas prices reach $10.00/gallon, the bike commuter club idea will take really take off.
Reconnecting Children To Nature
The following is excerpted from the Lawrence Journal-World (April 26, 2011):
“Outside for a Better Inside,” a Lawrence nonprofit group, is hosting outdoor activities like kite-flying events. It wants to reconnect children to the great outdoors and nature because it believes being outside leads to a better inside. The activities — organized by Outside for a Better Inside — are open to anyone and are free. During the past year, they’ve visited the Baker Wetlands and Prairie Park Nature Center, participated in a butterfly tagging program, and went on a scavenger hunt…
The next one is a fishing expedition on Saturday, May 7, at Mary’s Lake, which is in Prairie Park. The event, which is from 8:30 a.m. to noon, is being held in conjunction with the Crown Casting Club and Lawrence Parks & Recreation. Bait and tackle will be provided along with refreshments.
Mary Jones, of Outside for a Better Inside, said the nonprofit builds butterfly gardens for schools.
It also wants to get a new nature club started in Lawrence, one that will organize its own outings and meet on a regular basis. She said they haven’t had anyone interested yet in starting a club, but they are hopeful.
“That’s the part that’s missing,” Jones said. “We really want to get one going.”
If you are interested in helping to organize such a club, contact Jones at 766-3023 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Antelope Spotted In Central Flint Hills
Two pronghorn antelope were recently observed in Chase County southeast of Cottonwood Falls. There continues to be a population of about 50 individuals in the central Flint Hills. Here is what KDWPT says on their website:
The antelope, or more accurately, the pronghorn, is a unique species to North America. Historically pronghorn ranged throughout the western three-fourths of Kansas and were considered nearly as numerous as bison. But by the late 1800s and early 1900s, unregulated harvest reduced pronghorn to the western border of the state. Trap and transplant efforts were initiated in 1964 in Wallace and Sherman counties. Later (1978-1983) pronghorn were reintroduced into Barber, Comanche, Ellsworth, Saline, Gove, and Morton counties. A Flint Hills population of pronghorns was also established in Chase County with releases in 1978 and 1979, 1982 and 1983, and 1991 and 1992.
The western Kansas reintroductions were successful. There are about 2,000 pronghorn in the westernmost two to three tiers of counties. A few pronghorn roam Barber County, and 50 or so remain in the Flint Hills, which was the eastern edge of the historic pronghorn range in the U.S. None remain in Ellsworth and Saline counties.
As the landscape becomes more intensely developed and modified, it becomes more and more difficult to find space for larger animals like pronghorn, and landscape changes such as the loss of native prairie (to agriculture, urbanization, and tree growth resulting from fire suppression) have not been favorable for pronghorn. Even fences can present a significant barrier to pronghorn movement and survival. As a result of these things, the amount of good pronghorn habitat is limited in Kansas. Even areas with extensive native grassland like parts of central Kansas that might appear to be suitable for pronghorn have seen reintroduced animals dwindle or disappear. There is a healthy population of pronghorn in Kansas, but they are primarily restricted to the west.
Nat’l Park Service To Study New Trail Routes
The current Oregon-California Trail Assn. newsletter reports the following:
National Park Service To Hold Public Scoping Meetings Around the Nation
The National Park Service is conducting a feasibility study and environmental assessment to evaluate the feasibility and suitability of adding historic routes to the existing Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express National Historic Trails (NHTs). The study, which addresses 64 individual routes in more than a dozen states stretching from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Coast, was authorized under the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act (Public Law 111-11) signed by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2009.
Some of the routes to be studied include the Cherokee Trail from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to Fort Bridger, Wyoming; the Naches Pass Trail in Oregon; the 1856-57 Handcart Route from Iowa City to Council Bluffs, Iowa; and a 20-mile southern alternative route of the Pony Express Trail from Wathena to Troy, Kansas.
The Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express National Historic Trails opened the West to settlement and represent one of the largest overland migrations on North American soil. The lure of gold, the promise of fertile land, the adventure and a new place to call home beckoned all those willing to take the chance. These trails fostered both commerce and communication, which helped bridge the gap between the East and the West binding a nation once torn by civil war.
If included, the routes would add thousands of additional miles to these existing national historic trails.
There are many ways for you to learn more about these trails and to get involved with the planning process.
- Attend a feasibility study scoping meeting
- Review the draft study
- Tour a trail-related historic site or museum
- Visit a trail-related route or walk in a trace
- Join a trail association
You may also submit comments to Gretchen Ward via email at email@example.com or via regular mail at P.O. Box 728, Santa Fe, NM, 87504. The deadline for comments is July 30th, 2011.
May 10 – McPherson, Kansas
The McPherson Public Library
214 West Martin
May 11 – Topeka, Kansas
Kansas Museum of History
6425 SW 6th Avenue
May 11 – Independence, Missouri
National Frontier Trails Museum
318 West Pacific
April 7, 2011
New State Law Promotes Safety For Bicyclists
Effective July 1, motorists will be required to provide a minimum three-foot distance when passing bicyclists. Also, the law has another provision called Dead Red, which allows bicyclists and motorcyclists who are stuck at a traffic signal that won’t detect or change for them, to proceed when safe. Of course, there are usually pedestrian crosswalk buttons that can be pushed by bicyclists to trigger green lights.
Construction Of Landon Trail In Topeka Underway
Construction has started on the final phase of the Landon Nature Trail within the city limits of Topeka. Bill Riphahn with Topeka Parks and Recreation reported on April 12, 2011, “The contractor started about three or four weeks ago and all is going well. This segment will finish the city’s segment of the Landon Trail going all the way to Topeka City limits.”
John Purvis, President of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that “KDOT has funded development of the 10-foot-wide concrete path in Topeka all the way from 25th Street to 49th Street (city limits) where Kanza’s section begins. The project takes care of the one bridge left undone at 45th Street (a total of 3 bridges will be rebuilt). The project was mostly funded by KDOT’s allocation of $1.1 million federal ARRA stimulus funding and the City’s match of $100,000.”
Purvis further says, “This is a huge step for the Landon Trail as it will enable trail users in West Topeka to travel east on the Shunga Trail and then south on the 38-mile Landon Trail all the way to the Clinton Wildlife Area. It is expected that with completion of the project this year, trail usage on Kanza’s section will soar thereby increasing volunteers and funding.”
The Landon Nature Trail corridor, dubbed Freedom’s Pathway within Topeka, links the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site at Monroe School with the historic Ritchie House. “John and Mary Ritchie were passionate abolitionists, befriending John Brown who visited this home early in 1859 with a group of escaped slaves. The Ritchie stone house was known as a haven for those seeking freedom. After the Civil War, Ritchie made housing lots available to freed slaves and a neighborhood of African Americans sprang up near his home.”
The Landon Trail intersects the Shunga Trail at a bicycle roundabout just east of Kansas Ave. at 20th Street. The trail also crosses a branch of the Oregon-California National Historic Trail in south Topeka. The Conservancy leased 4.6 miles of the Landon Trail to the City of Topeka in 2000 for a term of 99 years.
Wilderness Conservation Initiative Blocked By Budget Deal
In a previous edition of Kansas Trails News it was reported that a new Dept. of Interior initiative to identify potential National Wilderness Areas (called “Wild Lands”) had been approved by Secretary Ken Salazar. Those wild lands could then be submitted to Congress for possible approval for inclusion in the National Wilderness Area System. However, the budget deal reached with Congressional leaders and President Obama would block the expenditure of any federal funds for inventorying public BLM lands. Unless funding is later restored or other funds found (such as private funds from conservation foundations), the wilderness preservation initiative (Secretarial Order 3310) is on hold. There are thousands of miles back country trails on these wild lands.
University Of Kansas Campus To Have Bike Rentals
The KUnited coalition won the KU student senate elections this month. Here is one of their platform planks:
Bike Rentals On Campus: “With a KU ID, a student will be able to check out a bike for either a short-term or long-term rental. There will be designated spaces for parking the bikes across campus and locks to use if the bikes are taken throughout the community. KU prides itself on having one of the most efficient transit operations in the country. However, with an extremely efficient system comes the inevitable problem that some students get left behind, because demand is too high. In an effort to provide a healthy and sustainable alternative to driving and busing across campus, KUnited will work with Parking & Transit and the Student Senate to bring bike rentals to KU! This option has the ability to save students time and money, and provide healthy and sustainable transportation.”
National Conservation Lands
The following is excerpted from the Conservation Lands Foundation website:
The National Conservation Lands (formally the National Landscape Conservation System) is the nation’s newest, permanently protected collection of public lands- 28 million acres of nationally significant landscapes set aside for current and future generations because of their outstanding cultural, ecological and scientific importance. The National Conservation Lands consist of the last places where you can experience the history of the American West. From the rivers which Lewis and Clark explored, to pioneer trails, to Native American sites, the heritage and beauty of these places are safeguarded for all to see.
First established by Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt in 2000 and made permanent by an act of Congress in 2009, the National Conservation Lands join the existing National Park System and National Wildlife Refuge System as another way Americans can preserve and enjoy their history and their land. It reflects our new understanding that truly conserving natural and cultural values means protecting large landscapes – entire ecosystems and archaeological districts – more than small, isolated tracts surrounded by development. And it encourages the increasingly rare opportunity for Americans to escape crowds and create their own outdoor adventures in the wild beauty of the West, as well as providing unique resources for study to scientists and students of all ages.
Work On Marquette Rail-Trail To Start
Fred Peterson, Marquette City Clerk, reports that work will start this year on the west end of the city’s two-mile rail-trail. The first project is to deck and rail a bridge. The working name for the recreational trail is the Three Bridges Trail. Peterson is also working on building an eight-mile trail tentatively called the Smoky Hill Recreational Trail from Marquette to Lindsborg in the old K-4 right-of-way. However, funds will first have to be obtained for an engineering study. The trail would connect with the Meadowlark and Valkommen Trails in Lindsborg. A long-term vision is to connect Marquette with the 117-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail which has its western trailhead in Herington and extends to Osawatomie.
April 7, 2011
Cecile Kellenbarger Now Walking Heavenly Trail
Ruth Holliday with the Wichita-based Prairie Travelers reports the following:
Cecile Kellenbarger Moore passed away peacefully the morning of April 4 at her home, where her husband John Moore had kept her in a familiar setting with family.
As a biking community, her drive and energy will be missed. I would venture to say that the Prairie Sunset Trail exists in large part because of her persistence in front of countless city councils and phone calls to community leaders. Nothing would make her happier than if we made Kansas a more bike and trail friendly state. A memorial will be established to finish our covered bridge on the Prairie Sunset Trail.
Larry Ross remembers Cecile as being “active in Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy and KanBikeWalk as well. Every time each of us goes around the bend, we fully expect Cecile and her never-ending smile. She was indeed one of a kind. She was a natural networker with vision and persistence in bicycling activities and rails-to-trails statewide. Our sympathies go out to her husband, John Moore.”
Trail enthusiasts can send memorials to: Prairie Travelers, Inc. (P.O. Box 78-1033, Wichita, KS 67278) or Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc. (P.O. Box 44-2043, Lawrence, KS 66044).
Katy Trail Section Reopens
Long-delayed Katy Trail section reopens
By Mark Schlinkmann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday, April 3, 2011
St. Charles — The 11-mile easternmost segment of the Katy Trail in St. Charles County is finally available to bicyclists and hikers, following years of weather-related construction delays and funding problems.
Gov. Jay Nixon and his wife, Georgeanne Nixon, will take part in an opening ceremony at 10:30 this morning at DuSable City Park in St. Charles. The segment is between St. Charles and the Machens area, between the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers.
A news release from the governor’s office calls the opening “a major milestone” for the 21-year-old trail and state park, which now is 240 miles long between Machens and its western terminus at Clinton, Mo.
Work was completed recently on the final three-mile portion of the 11-mile segment, using $370,000 in federal economic stimulus money awarded last year.
Much of the 11-mile segment was finished years ago, but floods in 1993 and 1995 washed away parts of the trail right of way. Two large gaps were created by floodwater. The segment has been shown on trail maps as a dotted line.
The state several years ago routed the trail around one washout, and the recent work dealt with the other.
The trail statewide follows the route of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, commonly known as the Katy, which stopped operating in 1986.
Kansas Parks Provide Sound Return On Investment
Study: Kansas parks provide sound return on investment
By Christine Metz, Lawrence Journal-World, March 19, 2011
Most of us value parks for their beauty and tranquility. But a recent study by Kansas University business students found that for Kansas parks, residents might want to add smart economic investment to the list.
KU’s Jayhawk Consulting group found that for every $1 invested in parks and recreation, there is a $1.70 return.
The study was commissioned by the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, a nonprofit group that wanted to take a look at the value of green space in Kansas.
“We’ve always felt that they are an essential service to our communities. This gives us supporting data that it has an economic value,” said Doug Vance, who is the executive director for the Kansas Recreation and Park Association.
Students found that for every $1 spent on programs, facilities, activities and employees, $1.70 was returned to the economy. They worked off a model that is frequently used by other state agencies.
Vance said the Kansas Recreation and Park Association is already using the data in an effort to convince lawmakers to invest more in parks and recreation. He was meeting with groups in Washington, D.C., this week where he presented the findings.
“It’s a good resource. You have to — as an industry, as an organization — explain the economic value in today’s economic times,” Vance said.
The research also showed that real estate values go up in Kansas for property owners who live near green space. In different cities throughout Kansas, the students looked at housing prices for homes next to a park, a mile away and three miles away.
“What we found is a direct correlation on housing value and proximity to parks,” said Wally Meyer, director of Entrepreneurship Programs at KU’s School of Business. “The closer you are to a park, the higher the value of homes.”
Even without the boost to the economy, the study found that parks and recreation provides healthy benefits. According to surveys, 73 percent of Kansas residents use recreation and park services at least once a week, and 60 percent factored in the lower cost when using the facilities.
Exercise was given as the No. 1 reason for using parks and recreation. Without the facilities, 31 percent of those surveyed said they would do nothing and 66 percent said they would find a substitute program that would cost more.
Meadowlark Trail Work Day A Success
Artie Streit with Central Kansas Conservancy reports the following:
“Central Kansas Conservancy directors and volunteers assisted with and offered support to our high school student volunteers and their adult sponsors as they participated in their Citizenship Day activities and provided some absolutely wonderful man-hours to perform much needed and appreciated work on the Sunset Walk of the Meadowlark Trail!! The trail section is now open and passable in a primitive state (with original rock ballast) for three miles from Moccasin Rd. in McPherson north to Overland Rd. The bridge looks great, but needs a few finishing touches. We’ve lined up some donated handrails that, when available to us, will take about a day’s worth of construction to install.
Joye Walker built a trailhead information box for the Sunset Walk end similar to the one she has mounted on the Galva west trailhead for the Sunflower Santa Fe Trail as well as a covered pamphlet box that we mounted as our last activity this afternoon. We’re off and hiking! Spread the word, we need more volunteers and people to start using the trail.”
Conservation Easement Near Tallgrass Prairie Nat’l Preserve Acquired
“In late December, the Conservancy closed on two conservation easements totaling over 5,200 acres in the Flint Hills. The first easement is on the nearly 3,200-acre Robbins Ranch situated in Chase and Morris counties, just northwest of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Owned by Kay Lauer, the property is important to protect because of its high quality tallgrass prairie habitat and proximity to the preserve.”
(Excerpted from Kansas: The Plainskeeper, newsletter of the Kansas Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Spring/Summer, 2011)
Konza Prairie Wildflower Walk
Friends of the Konza Prairie Wildflower Walk will be held on Sunday June 5 at the Konza Prairie near Manhattan from 6:30 p.m. to sunset. This is the peak of the tallgrass prairie wildlife season. Participants will walk on the extensive trail network through the upland prairie. Cost is $7 per person. To register contact Annie Baker at keep.konza.ksu.edu.
2011 Tours Of Tallgrass Prairie Nat’l Preserve
There will be prairie bus tours at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve north of Strong City on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, October 30. The tours will begin at 11:00 a.m. and last until 12:30 p.m. Additional tour times at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. as staffing permits. The preserve now has a herd of bison and many more miles of hiking trails. The new visitor center will be under construction later this year. Please call ahead to 620-273-8494 to ensure tour availability.
Preserving Wilderness In The Sunflower State
“Consider what actions you could take, large or small, to help create a wilder, more beautiful America. Is there a place—a forest, grassland, or marsh—where wild creatures are today at home, but with no protections from the bulldozers of tomorrow? Do you know a piece of abused land that might be healed if someone were to buy it, and offer its kindly care? What could you do to pass along the gift of wildness?”
— Wildlands Philanthropy: The Great American Tradition (2008) by Tom Butler & Antonio Vizcaino.
March 17, 2011
High Trestle Trail’s Grand Opening
The following appeared in the Rails to Trails Magazine (Spring/Summer, 2011):
If you’ve floated down the Des Moines River recently between Madrid and Woodward in Iowa, you may have noticed a colossal new bridge soaring about you. The half-mile, 13-story-high structure—one of the largest pedestrian bridges in the world—is the namesake and finishing touch on central Iowa’s newest rail-trail, the High Trestle Trail. Running from Woodward to Ankey, the 15-mile High Trestle Trail is part of a 640-mile trail system around Des Moines and central Iowa. The trail’s grand-opening celebration is scheduled for April 30, which special events planned in all five towns along the corridor. If you are attending, you can pick up a “passport” to mark your visit to each community. To learn more about the trail and opening celebration, contact the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation at 515.288.1846 or visit inhf.org.
- Length & surface: 25 miles; asphalt, concrete
- End points: Ankeny to Woodward
- Website: hightrestletrail.info
America’s Great Outdoors Plan
Ken Salazar, secretary of the US Dept. of Interior was recently addressed the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference held in Kansas City. This is excerpted from the Kansas City Star (3-17-11):
Salazar bases much of his optimism on an ambitious blueprint called America’s Great Outdoors that he helped draft for President Barack Obama. Among the provisions, outlined in a report that Obama recently released:
- The outdoors would be brought to urban areas, where much of the nation’s population resides, through grand urban parks.
- Youth would be encouraged to get involved in the outdoors through a Conservation Service Corps, which would provide youngsters with jobs in land and water conservation.
- Innovative ways of funding conservation projects, such as partnerships between government, communities and businesses, would be explored.
- The America’s Great Outdoors National Recreational Blueways Trails Initiative would be created to give priority to portions of rivers as recreational destinations that would receive aid for restoration and access projects.
- A council would be created to ensure that federal agencies collaborate on conservation and recreation projects.
Kansas’ First Rail-Trail Celebrates 20th Anniversary
Twenty years ago this month Kansas’ first developed rail-trail opened. The Haskell Rail-Trail was dedicated in March, 1991 by Fred DeVictor, Lawrence Parks and Recreation Director, and Larry Ross and Clark Coan with the Rails-to-Trails Coalition of Kansas (now Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy). The one-mile, crushed limestone trail is on the east side of Haskell Indian Nations University and connects with the paved, 2.5-mile Burroughs Creek Trail at 23rd St. and Leonard Ave. Ross, Coan and the Lawrence Bike Club convinced the Lawrence City Commission to approve the project. The City then railbanked the line and subsequently purchased the tracks and ballast from the Santa Fe Railway at a substantial discount. The City then sold the tracks to a salvager for premium with the proceeds being plowed back into trail development. Thus, the City ended up spending very little money on developing the trail.
Kanza Receives $30,000 Grant For Flint Hills Trail
Karen DeOrnellas, Lyco Division Superintendent of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that the Conservancy has received a $30,000 grant from the Emporia-based Trusler Foundation to build the Flint Hills Nature Trail 5.5-miles from Miller to Admire (north of Emporia). A $25,000 Kansas Health Foundation grant will also cover a portion of the development expense for this section. Further, going westward from Admire, the trail is already developed 10 miles to Bushong. Beginning at Bushong, the trail west to Kaw Heritage Park, part of which lies in Lyon County and part in Morris County, is being completed with a $76,000 Jones Trust grant. Once the 5.5 mile section of this project and the Bushong – Kaw Park section are completed, a 30 mile stretch of trail between the eastern border of Lyon County and Council Grove will open for the enjoyment of the public.
March 9, 2011
$3,000 Trail Grants Approved
Scott Allen, Neosho Valley Superintendent with Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that Council Grove has received a $3,000 Get It – Do It! Grant from K-State Research and Extension to clean up and block vehicular access to the first section of the Flint Hills Nature Trail in Council Grove. The grant will be administered through the local PRIDE Organization. Shannon Allen will be spearheading the clean-up of the trail head with assistance from the local Cub Scouts and has plans to plant some easy to maintain plants and grasses in the trailhead area. They will also be working with other volunteers and youth to clean the trail and block off traffic from Council Grove to the Kaw Heritage Park and have plans to develop a couple of side trails in the wide section adjacent to town.
Sandra Tyne, who works at the local Recreation Center, is also involved in the project. She is putting together a volunteer group with the first work day scheduled for this Saturday, March 12, weather permitting.
Finally, Smith Center has received a grant to design and construct a nature/fitness trail. There were 11 applications and seven grants approved statewide.
New Federal Program Encourages Doctors To ‘Prescribe Nature’
A new federal program is encouraging doctors and nurse practitioners to give families ‘nature prescriptions’. The program is designed to get families out into national parks and national wildlife refuges where they explore nature and end up losing weight and gain other benefits. Below are some excerpts from an article in USA Today (2-28-11):
Federal program gives families ‘nature prescriptions’
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY
More than 100 of the 553 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges such as Moapa are part of a national consortium of federal parks and the National Environmental Education Foundation now using this prescription tactic. It’s funded by a $75,000 grant to improve family health through a two-year pilot project linking the federal agencies with health care providers. The aim is to turn doctors, nurses, teachers and therapists into “nature champions” who steer children and their parents into the outdoors.
It’s a whole lot more than just saying, “take a hike.”
The prescription, an “Rx for healthy living,” prompts families to eat more fruits and vegetables, step away from the TV or video screen and go outside to breathe fresh air, awaken their senses, and shed some weight.
Using the prescription format gives the psychological oomph of doctor’s orders to simple suggestions for diet and workouts disguised as nature walks. Each prescription comes with easy-to-follow maps to nearby refuges and parks where outdoor experiences are led by rangers and volunteers.
“A prescription makes a phenomenal difference. It says, ‘Rx for healthy and active outdoor living.’ Once you get kids outdoors, away from the inner city, they are just completely bamboozled by the science and the natural world and they never think they are exercising,” says Kohn, who will start sending out prescriptions as soon at the Spanish translations are available.
In Santa Clara, Calif, Kaiser Permanente clinic pediatrician Charles Owyang has already written 67 prescriptions to the Don Edwards Preserve, an urban nature enclave in the San Francisco Bay Area. Owyang also teaches other doctors about studies that show outdoor activities have intellectual and emotional benefits, too — brightening kids’ moods, sharpening their concentration and cutting down on stress.
Blue River Rail Trail Update
Steve O’Neal with Marshall County Connections, reports that construction will likely begin this April on a three-mile segment of the Blue River Rail Trail which stretches from Marysville to the Nebraska State Line. Two miles are already complete and very popular with area residents. The next section will be completed by the end of the year.
Meadowlark Trail Update
Jean Kozubowski with the Lindsborg Friends of the Trail group, reports that three miles of the Meadowlark Trail (which stretches 13 miles from Lindsborg to McPherson) is open to mountain bikers and hikers. Also, it is anticipated that the first mile of crushed limestone, suitable for road bicycles and wheelchairs, will be laid this year on a very scenic stretch heading south from Lindsborg. The Meadowlark Trail connects with the Lindsborg’s paved Valkommen Trail.
TransAmerica Bicycle Trail
The TransAmerica Trail was established during the 1976 Bicentennial and is “still the greatest and most used route crossing America” according to the Adventure Cycling Association’s website.
“This classic ride offers everything you would expect from a transcontinental crossing. You’ll encounter all kinds of scenery and terrain, including ocean coastline, lush forests, high desert, mountain passes, snow-capped peaks, sweeping vistas, expansive plains, fertile farmlands, rolling hills, and wide rivers. You’ll pass through small, out-of-the-way towns in America that still serve up some of the best home-cooked meals and fresh-baked pies.”
In Kansas the route goes from Tribune, Scott City, Rush Center, Larned, Newton, Cassoday, Eureka, Toronto, Chanute and Girard. For more information go to: adventurecycling.org
Galva Section Of Sunflower Santa Fe Trail Update
Joye Walker with the Galva Friends of the Trail group, reports that on March 19 there will be a work day for the Sunflower Santa Fe Trail at Galva. Support is growing in the Galva area. Reportedly, area Mennonites are using the trail.
New STB Railbanking Rules Proposed
The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is about to issue new rules regarding railbanked rail-trails that would (1) Require joint notification by the railroad and trail manager to the STB when a Interim Trail Use Agreement is reached by the two parties; and, (2) a substitute trail sponsor must acknowledge that the interim trail use is subject to restoration and reactiviation of rail service at any time. Other minor changes are also proposed. To look at the proposed rules go to: federalregisterwatch.com
February 17, 2011
Upcoming Sunflower Rail-Trails Meeting
All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend the spring meeting of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy on March 5 in historic Cottonwood Falls, nestled in the scenic Flint Hills. Items for discussion include the Railbanking Initiative; the Strategic Plan; and the State Rail-Trails Plan. A field trip following the meeting will held on the Community Connections Trail, a three-mile section of a regional multi-use trail connecting Cottonwood Falls, Strong City and the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The meeting begins at 11:00 a.m. in the restored Grand Central Hotel.
Support Grows For More Trails Funding
An article in Blue Sky, Green Earth: a resource for sustainable living (Winter 2010) by Kelly Barth states: ”A 2008 survey conducted by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy shows that though respondents indicated they would like to see only 37 percent of transportation tax dollars dedicated to roads and the rest to mass transit and pedestrian and biking accessibility, currently 79 percent is dedicated to roads. Source: (www.railstotrails.org/resources/documents/whatwedo/atfa/ATFA_20081020.pdf)
Safe Routes To School
In 2005, a survey conducted by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking found that “while 71% of adults walked or rode their bicycles to school as a child, a mere 17% of their own children currently do so. (www.bikewalk.org/forum.php). While it’s true some parents said stranger-danger kept them from allowing their children the same freedoms they enjoyed, many said they primarily feared for their safety in traffic. That’s why Congress passed the Safe Routes to School program which funds programs to build sidewalks and multipurpose paths linking neighborhoods with schools. (saferoutesinfo.org). Parents are also organizing Walking School Buses: walkingschoolbus.org.
“New Normal” Tourism Conference
This workshop is scheduled for 2 days (Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19) and will take place on the K.U. Edwards Campus in Overland Park, Kansas.
The workshop/seminar is designed with the small to medium-sized destination, attraction, lodging marketer, or destination marketing organization (dmo) in mind.
The old, reliable tourist of the past 25 years doesn’t exist anymore – at least not in large numbers. The after-effects of 3 years of economic turmoil, fluctuating gas prices, and flat or decreased income has created a new tourist – and a new travel mindset.
The potential visitor to your attraction, city, or destination is not looking for the same opportunities that existed just 3 years ago. The market has changed and you must adjust to stay competitive.
The “New Normal” is here to stay and you need to get prepared beginning in 2011.
Registration for this 2-day event is $145.00 per person which includes lunch both days and conference materials. Discounts are available for 3 or more attendees from the same organization.
Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy Received $183,000 In 2010
Clark Coan, Director of Development for Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that KRTC received nearly $183,000 in grants from foundations and trusts in 2010. The funds are being used to develop the Flint Hills and Landon Nature Trails. “Financial support for trails is growing in the Sunflower State,” says Coan. Health foundations see the wisdom in encouraging people to exercise outdoors on trails.”
Bill Would Limit Parkland Acquisitions
House Bill 2149 would prohibit the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism from purchasing more than 160 acres without legislative approval. Currently the department can purchase up to 640 acres of land. That limit is removed if the land can be purchased below appraised value. However, the bill would also remove that exemption. Michael Pearce in the Wichita Eagle (2-13-11) says this about the bill:
Pro: It would keep the department from buying lands that could be used in agriculture by private individuals.
Cons: Kansas ranks last in the nation for public lands. The change would make it even harder to add more.
Editor’s note: As the Kansas urban population continues to grow, demand for access to recreational lands will also increase. So, it is imperative that more land be available to the public for recreation. It is thought that the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Livestock Assn. are behind this bill.
Support A Walkable America
An organization called America Walks (americawalks.org) is working to make a Walkable America. Below is their vision statement.
By 2020, walking in everyday life is embraced across America. Streets and neighborhoods are safe and attractive public places that encourage people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, and incomes to walk for exercise, recreation, and transportation. Walkable community policies promote health, economic vitality, environmental sustainability, and social equity.
The following principles are key to achieving our vision of a walkable America:
- Transportation systems will provide accessibility and mobility for all
- People of all abilities will be able to safely walk along and to cross all streets
- Communities of all sizes will be designed on a human scale, to encourage social interaction and commerce
- States and cities will revise existing transportation and development policies, standards, and programs to encourage walking, bicycling, and transit use
- Transportation and development design decisions will explicitly consider public health outcomes
January 28, 2011
Trolley Track Trail Reopens
The Trolley Track Trail in south Kansas City, Missouri has re-opened after being closed for five months. A major trail segment was closed in September after a massive sink hole opened up within the treadway. The hole, an abandoned mine, was filled by work crews with 300 cubic yards of material, including 500 tons of rock at a cost of $45,000 ( KC Star 1-07-11).
The Trolley Track Trail is one of the few rail-trails in the nation converted from an old streetcar line (the old Country Club line). A proposal has been recently made to build a trolley line from Crown Center to the Riverfront Market. Then the line may be extended south to the Country Club Plaza. Ultimately, rail service may be restored on the rail-trail from south of the Plaza to Brookside.
150th Anniversary Of Founding Of Kansas
The great state of Kansas was founded 150 years ago this month. Celebrations will be held throughout 2011 all across the Sunflower State. It would be nice to have trail-related celebrations on National Trails Day since Kansas was settled by pioneers who traveled on historic trails. For more information about the Kansas Sesquicentennial which starts Jan. 29 go to ks150.kansas.gov.
The Kansas Historical Society says that sunflowers have been used as an emblem to characterize Kansans as “sunny, open and bright.” The state flower and emblem could also portray Kansans as “hopeful, friendly and helpful.”
Daniel Boone In Kansas
Famous explorer and frontiersman Daniel Boone moved to his son’s (Daniel Morgan Boone) Spanish land grant homestead near present-day Matson, Missouri in 1799. Later Daniel, Sr. received 2,000 acres from the Spanish government for services rendered.
“Boone was in the habit of taking long hunting trips, never losing his love for nor his skill in the use of the rifle. Between the years 1805 and 1815 he hunted up the valley of the Kansas river for a distance of 100 miles from its mouth, and in the spring of 1818, when 83 years of age, he wrote to his son: ‘I intend by next autumn to take two or three whites and a party of Osage Indians and visit the salt mountains, lakes and ponds and see these natural curiosities. They are about five or six hundred miles west of here.’” Daniel died in 1820.
“About 1826, he (Daniel Morgan Boone) was Indian Agent to the Kaw Tribe in Jefferson County, Kansas (seven miles upstream from Lawrence) and living there. His son, Napoleon, was born there in 1828. Daniel Morgan spent the next several years teaching farming to the Indians.”
The Boones always liked living in the wilderness on the frontier. Daniel probably followed existing Indian or settler trails along the Missouri River to Ft. Osage (east of Kansas City) and on an Indian trail along the Kaw River (probably on the south bank) and apparently got as far upstream as Silver Lake (northwest of Topeka).
When asked if he’d ever been lost, reportedly Daniel said, “I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was a mite bewildered once for three days.”
Source: Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. … / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
New Secretary Of Wildlife And Parks Selected
Below are excerpts taken from the KC Star (1-14-11):
Robin Jennison has a vision for Kansas.
He sees hunting fields, fishing lakes, Flint Hills grasslands and parks teeming with visitors. And he sees rural towns near those resources reaping the economic benefits.
Promoting the Kansas outdoors — that will be Jennison’s priority when he goes to work as secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. He was chosen to the post last week by Gov. Sam Brownback…
“Kansas is a great place to have an outdoors experience,” said Jennison, 56, who is from Healy, Kan. “Whether it be hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, camping or just enjoying the scenery, we have a lot to offer.
“But that’s something we’ve never promoted. That’s always been lacking…
Jennison and Brownback already have several ideas for better promoting the outdoors:
- They would like to establish a governor’s pheasant hunt in western Kansas, hoping to help economies in rural areas.
- They hope to add an additional 50 to 100 miles of hiking, bicycling and horseback-riding trails in the Flint Hills. “The governor has talked about making the Flint Hills the horseback riding equivalent of Sturgis,” Brownback said, referring to the popular South Dakota motorcycle rally that attracts thousands.
- They have discussed several proposals to better fund Kansas state parks.
In the past, it was proposed to charge an annual $5.00 fee to register motor vehicle such as is done in other states such as Montana.
As currently proposed, the Flint Hills equestrian trail would not be open to the general public. Only equestrians led by rancher guides could travel on the trail.
Mike Hayden was a good friend of trails, outdoor recreation, parks and wildlife. It is unclear at this time if Jennison will support rail-trails which are vigorously opposed by the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Livestock Assn.
Tourism Division Merges With KDWP
Gov. Brownback has issued an executive order moving the Division of Travel and Tourism from the Dept. of Commerce to the Dept. of Wildlife and Parks. The new agency is called Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. It is thought that the promotion of recreational trails will increase with this change.
Over the last century, visionary philanthropists have acquired millions of acres of wild lands for conservation resulting in the creation of national parks, national monuments, state parks and nature preserves. America is a better place as a result of these visionaries. One of the premier philanthropists was John D. Rockefeller, Jr. whose acquisitions and donations helped create some of America’s most spectacular national parks such as Grand Teton National Park, Acadia National Park, Great Smoky Mts. National Park and Virgin Islands National Park.
3M mining heiress Katharine Ordway donated more than $53 million to fund Nature Conservancy purchases of prairie grasslands in Minnesota, Missouri, and Kansas, such as the stunning 8,616-acre Konza Prairie near Manhattan, Kans.
Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Burt’s Bees, sold the multimillion dollar personal care products company and set up an operating foundation which owns and maintains 120,000 acres of wilderness in the North Woods of Maine. Her goal is to create a North Woods National Park.
Media mogul Ted Turner has acquired more than 2 million acres. He and his son, Beau, are “restoring biodiversity, reintroducing native plant and animal specials, and generating income.” Ted Turner’s ranches are opened to the public and include the 42,479-arce Z-Bar Ranch in the beautiful Red Hills near Medicine Lodge, Kansas, where bison are raised and the Black-footed Ferret has been re-introduced to control prairie dogs. He also owns the 41,689-acre Bluestem Ranch located south of the Nature Conservancy’s 45,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie Preserve on the Osage Indian Reservation in northeastern Oklahoma.
Doug Thompkins, co-founder of Espirit, a multimillion clothing company, sold his share of the company in 1990 for $200 million. Since then, he and his second wife Kris McDivitt (a founder of Patagonia, Inc.) have purchased and conserved more than 2 million acres of magnificent wilderness in Chile and Argentina, more than any other private individual. They have created national parks and nature sanctuaries plus are restoring damaged pampas for inclusion in parks and preserves.
Sources: Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet by Edward Humes, 2009 & Wildlands Philanthropy: The Great American Tradition by Tom Butler, 2008.)
Leavenworth Trails Network Expands
The City of Leavenworth continues to expand its trails system: leavenworthtimes.com.
RTC Celebrates 25th Anniversary
An email from Keith Laughlin, President of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) states: “We’re marking our 25th anniversary in 2011, and I can’t think of a better time for a milestone year. With nearly 20,000 miles of trail on the ground across the country, never has the rail-trail movement been so dynamic, so strong or so exciting.
For 25 years, RTC has helped you build, protect and use the trails you love, and we’re still going strong as we kick-off 2011…”