Kansas Trails News – 2012

December 17, 2012

Joye Walker with Central Kansas Conservancy reports that the 13-mile Meadowlark Trail stretching between McPherson to Lindsborg now has limestone screenings on the first two miles going north from McPherson. This is a significant milestone for this longtime rails-to-trails project. At Lindsborg the trail will connect with the 2.5-mile Välkommen Trail and eventually the 10-mile Smoky Hill Recreational Trail stretching to Marquette which has the 2-mile Three Bridges Trail. Screenings will be installed on the latter this winter.

HASKELL RAIL-TRAIL/BURROUGHS CREEK TRAIL IN LAWRENCE UPDATE. The City of Lawrence has submitted a $170,000 TE grant application to concrete the Haskell Rail-Trail south from the new 23rd Street bridge to 29th Street. The Burroughs Creek Trail connects with the Haskell Rail-Trail at the bridge. The Haskell Rail-Trail, lying on the east side of the Haskell Indian Nations University campus, was the first rail-trail in Kansas and dates from 1991. Currently, it has a crushed limestone surface. If the City receives the grant, this will provide a continuity of treadway surface and encourage trail users on the Burroughs Creek Trail to continue south. The ultimate goal is to use the trails to connect the Kaw and Wakarusa Rivers.

BIG MULTI-SITE EVENT PROPOSED FOR NATIONAL TRAILS DAY. It has been proposed that large multi-site events be held on National Trails Day on the Prairie Spirit Trail, Flint Hills Nature Trail and Landon Nature Trail and other trails to promote the state’s rail-trails. Hundreds of trails enthusiasts would participate in the events. One such location could be the intersection of the Prairie Spirit Trail and Flint Hills Trail in Ottawa. It’s even possible that Governor Brownback and his family could walk or ride on a rail-trail to celebrate our state’s trails.

Jay Kretzmeier reports the following: “Update from the South – Most all of the brush and trees have been cleared between Humboldt & Iola. This is a photo of today’s work crew. Volunteers have worked almost every Saturday since mid-May. Bridge fencing will soon start. Grading may also be close at hand. While the actual ownership is not theirs, the volunteers have voted to name this section the “Southwind Rail Trail” South denoting its position to the PSRT, Southwind because of those prevailing breezes, and Southwind because this geographic area already has that designation by the Kansas State University Office of Extension.

The Iola Rotary Club is applying for a Rotary grant and if funded will build a shelter on the trail somewhere close to the middle. It will also be built with all volunteer labor so that part may take a little longer to finish. I am more enthused each passing week. The bridge over Elm Creek is so unique people may come long distances just to see it. This project seems to be a model project of grant resources, limited government support, and community volunteers coming together. I hope it may serve as an example for other projects across the state.”

ANDOVER-AUGUSTA RAIL-TRAIL UPDATE. The following is taken from the Prairie Travelers newsletter (Fall/Winter, 2012): Advocates hope to connect Andover to Augusta with the new Red Bud Trail

The newly formed Andover-Augusta Rail Trail Group has one big goal: to extend the Red Bud Trail east, with the eventual goal of a continuous 20 mile linear parkway. Eleven of the proposed trail miles are in Butler County. This section of the Red Bud Trail was rail banked many years ago, and has sat idle since then. Many sections of the trail are overgrown, rough and unrideable in their current state. However, the potential this section of trail has is remarkable, and the opportunity is now.

We need your support and help to keep this on the agenda of our city and county representatives. If we wait for KDOT funding for the entire trail, we may have a long wait. How-ever with grassroots support and volunteers from individuals and businesses, we can make this happen!

We cannot let this slip out from under us. So if you are an East-sider and walker, jogger or bicyclist we need your help! We are meeting monthly in Andover, with a core group led by David Levy. Please let us know if you would like to be included in our updates and progress reports by e-mailing us at prairietravelers@yahoo.com .

BI-STATE FREEDOM TRAIL DEDICATED IN KC The following is excerpted from the KC Star (11/28/12): Mayors to celebrate Freedom Trail completion
Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Unified Government Mayor Joe Reardon will join other community leaders today to celebrate completion of the bi-state Freedom Trail.
The trail is part of the larger Riverfront Heritage Trail, which runs along the Missouri River waterfront through Richard L. Berkley Park and winds its way through River Market and parts of downtown.
The $1.4 million Freedom Trail portion begins at West 8th Street and Belleview Avenue, near the Faultless Starch headquarters. The trailhead features a park with native grasses, benches, sculpture, a large caboose and information about Kansas City history — including the role of the railroads and the story of Missouri slaves making their way to freedom in Kansas before the Civil War.
The completed trail follows the route of the Louis and Clark Viaduct through the West Bottoms. It connects to the Kansas portion of the trail, which was built on a new deck over the old Woodswether Bridge, crossing the Kansas River.
More information and a good map of the trail, both completed and planned phases, are available at KCRiverTrails.org.

COURT DECISION ON KANSAS REVERSION LAW. John Rosacker with KDOT’s Rail and Freight Unit reports that there has been a court decision that nullifies part of Kansas Railroad Law. Previously all fully abandoned rail corridors reverted to adjacent landowners, but an appeals court ruled that if the rail corridor was owned in fee simple by the railroad it does not revert. For example, there is a line between McCracken and Healy which has been abandoned and the railroad has filed a release to all claims to the title, but apparently the railroad still owns the corridor. This could impact other rail corridors, especially those acquired through federal land grants.

CONTEST TO BUILD TRAILS TO CENTRAL KC PROPOSED. Dale Crawford with KanBikeWalk has proposed that Kansas and Missouri enter into a friendly contest to see which state can first build trails from the Katy Trail and Flint Hills Nature Trail to central Kansas City, Missouri. The Bike Walk KC website has this:

Katy Trail Construction Update. The Star reports that 3 miles are complete and federal approval is progress for a change of plans that will make the trail even better once it’s all finished.

An extension of the Katy Trail State Park from Windsor to Pleasant Hill in Kansas City’s southeast suburbs is underway. The first three mile segment of trail is complete and open for use just east of Pleasant Hill, including two new trailheads. The original plan was to construct the trail alongside the unused Rock Island Railroad, which is owned by the St. Louis utility company Ameren. This would have meant building all new bridges, culverts, etc. and putting the trail in a low area prone to flooding.

Change of plan causes delay, but for the better
Those problems led the Department of Natural Resources to rethink the plan and renegotiate with Ameren.
Now the trail will be built on the actual railroad bed, just like the rest of the Katy Trail. This puts the trail up above high water, allows for the reuse of many existing bridges, and cuts construction costs in half. Now that the first 3 miles are done, we are just waitng for a federal agency to sign off on the new plan for the rest of the extension.

Final connecton into Kansas City
Our long term vision is to bring the Katy Trail all the way into the city and connect it with Kansas’ Flint Hills Nature Trail, which currently reaches near Osawatomie. This last piece of trail would go through Greenwood, Lee’s Summit, and Raytown. It would end at the Truman Sports Complex, where it will eventually connect to the Brush Creek Trail to the Plaza and the Blue River Trail to the Missouri River and Downtown.

BikeWalkKC is working hard to realize this final piece of the Katy to KC connection. We are part of the Jackson County Regional Rail Coalition, which envisions a new commuter rail line alongside the trail. We are also working with regional leaders on enabling state legislation for a multi-county trails and greenway district to fund trails and bike lanes. (January 13, 2012).

Also, a trail connecting the Flint Hill Nature Trail at Osawatomie to the MetroGreen Trail Network in Johnson County could be built within the wide US 169 right-of-way.

VOTERS SUPPORT CONSERVATION. The Wildlife Management Institute reports:

On November 2, Iowa voters easily passed the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, to fund future conservation efforts in the state, according to the Wildlife Management Institute. Sixty-two percent of the voters supported the proposal. By state constitutional amendment, the measure

The measure is estimated to produce approximately $150 million per year for conservation projects in the state. The monies can be used for wetlands restoration, water quality improvement, flood mitigation and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitats, along with other conservation efforts. Importantly, the amendment contained language that will prevent money raised for these conservation purposes from being diverted to other uses.

Across the nation, voters worried about the economy and opposed to government spending nevertheless passed 83 percent of the ballot initiatives nationwide to fund land conservation and parks,” reported The Conservation Campaign…Of the 35 conservation initiatives on the ballot this year, 29 passed, many by very solid margins.


November 16, 2012

ROCK CHALK PARK SPORTS COMPLEX IN LAWRENCE TO OFFER 5 MILES OF TRAILS. The City of Lawrence in collaboration with the University of Kansas is creating a 100-acre sports complex in far west Lawrence. The City has agreed to pay $25 million for a 181,000 square-foot recreation center/youth fieldhouse, eight lighted tennis courts, and five miles of walking trails. KU is going also going to build facilities, which will include a track and field stadium, a soccer field and a softball stadium.

OTTAWA CALLED A TOP PLACE TO RETIRE PARTLY DUE TO 200 MILES OF RAIL-TRAILS.The November 2012 issue of Money Magazine’s front cover is entitled: Best Places to Retire and on page 85 of the magazine it has“Best Places to Retire,The Top 20/Small Towns”.Ottawa, Kans. Is listed: Biggest Draws: “Architecturally rich buildings and 200 miles of converted rail-trails”. That description isn’t exactly correct. Only the 52-mile Prairie Spirit Trail is complete, but when the Flint Hills and Landon Nature Trails are completed there will indeed be a 200-mile interconnected network of rail-trails. The Prairie Spirit Trail with its trailhead in the Old Depot Museum in Ottawa and a 16-mile segment of the Flint Hills Nature Trail between Ottawa and Osawatomie are already completed. There are few regions in the country that can boast of a 200-mile rail-trail network. Also, The City of Ottawa is planning to develop the two miles of the FHNT lying within the city limits.

RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY’S LEGAL PROGRAM.the following appeared in the national Rails-to-Trails Magazine (Winter.13):

“RTC’s Legal Program, headed by longtime General Counsel Andrea Ferster and a host of pro bono attorneys, has helped secure the legal foundations for rail-trail development since the organization’s founding in 1986. Though not as well publicized as some of RTC’s other trail-building and policy work, the Legal Program plays a critical role in identifying, monitoring, and participating in cases or legal proceedings that potentially affect the policy framework for rail-trail conversions in the courts and before administrative agencies.

If your trail project has encountered a legal challenge, please contact Jake Lynch at jake@railstotrails.org or 202.974.5107. Even if RTC is unable to take a direct role, our resources and experience could help ensure the long-term success of your trail and, more broadly, the rail-trail movement.”

ILLINOIS PRAIRIE PATH TURNS 50! The 62-mile Illinois Prairie Path turned 50 in October. It was the first rail-trail in the nation.

MINNEAPLIS RAIL-TRAIL HELPS INCREASE RIDERSHIP.The 5.5-mile Midtown Greenway (a super bikeway) in Minneapolis has helped boost bicycle ridership in the metropolitan area. Between 2007 and 2011, bike traffic in the city grew by an amazing 47%. In fact, Minneapolis now has the second highest population of bike commuters in the nation, behind Portland, Ore. The city boasts 167 miles of bikeways and riders even bike in the winter as the City removes snow from the bikeways immediately after a snow. Riders also find that it isn’t that cold because the exercise warms them up. Source: Rails-to-Trails Magazine (Winter.13).

KANSANS ARE GENEROUS. Kansas ranked 9th in charitable giving in 2011. Using IRS data the Urban Institute found that the average Kansas taxpayer donated $1,223 in 2011. This compares with only $612 in Maine and $672 in North Dakota. Maryland ranked first with $1,667 (if you exclude Utah where the Mormon Church requires members to tithe).


MINNEAPOLIS, MN — One of the nation’s most popular outdoor activities gets its stamp of approval today from the U.S. Postal Service with the issuance of the Bicycling Forever stamps. The four stamps feature a young child just learning to ride with training wheels, a commuter pedaling to work, a road racer intent on the finish line and an airborne BMX rider.

Available nationwide today, the stamps can be purchased online at usps.com/shop, by calling 1-800-STAMP-24 (1-800-782-6724) or by visiting Post Offices.

PIPELINES BENEFIT RAIL-TRAILS. Rail-trails in Kansas are benefiting from oil pipeline easements. SRTC is expected to receive $1,500 for granting a pipeline easement east of Coldwater on the Short Grass Prairie Trail. The company intends to drill under the old railroad bed which keeps surface disturbance down. Marshall County Connections which manages the Blue River Rail Trail in Marshall county reportedly received $3,000 for a Keystone pipeline easement. When negotiating with the company be sure to inform them that the trail manager only holds title to surface rights and not subsurface rights. Urge them to also get easements to the subsurface rights from the adjacent property owners.

NATURE CONSERVANCY CONSERVES FLINT HILLS IN 2012.The Kansas chapter of The Nature Conservancy “initiated four new conservation easements in the Flint Hills in 2012. Two of these easements will likely be completed by January 2013, ensuring another 11,900 acres of tallgrass prairie is permanently maintained in its native state.” (TNC, Kansas Update, 2012).


October 15, 2012

KANZA RECEIVES TOURISM AWARD. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy is to receive the Governor’s Tourism Award at the annual Kansas Tourism Conference held October 16 in Dodge City. Kansas Tourism along with the Travel Industry Association of Kansas (TIAK) and tourism industry partners across the state will gather in Dodge City, KS for the annual Kansas Tourism Conference. Each year they present a person or organization who has made a significant impact on the tourism industry with the Kansas Governor’s Tourism Award. This year the award will be given to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy for their efforts on the Flint Hills Nature Trail. The award will be accepted by Vice President Scott Allen, Treasurer Shirley Meyer and director Frank Meyer.

KANZA TO HOLD ANNUAL MEETING ON NOVEMBER 10. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its annual meeting at on Saturday Nov. 10 at the Osage City Community Center (517 South First Street). All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. The meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. with break-out sessions to learn more about Kanza’s two trails. Lunch will be available for a $10.00 donation. RSVP at fsmeyer@tctelco.net. Following the meeting there will be a field trip to the Flint Hills Nature Trail.

SUNFLOWER TO HOLD ANNUAL MEETING OCTOBER 27 IN MANHATTAN. Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its annual meeting at the Manhattan library on Saturday October 27. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. The meeting begins at 11:00 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. Following the meeting there will be a field trip to the Manhattan Linear Park Trail, two miles of which are a rails-to-trails project. Also, available are the trails at the Kanza Prairie and a visit to the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD TURNS 150. The Union Pacific Railroad is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. The UP and railroads it later acquired (such as the Missouri Pacific) facilitated the settlement of the Sunflower State. Today, two MP corridors are used for the Flint Hills and Landon Nature Trails. Below is an UP news release:

Abraham Lincoln’s vision to create a transcontinental railroad took shape when he signed the Pacific Railway Act of July 1, 1862, creating Union Pacific. One of America’s iconic companies, Union Pacific celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2012.

“Abraham Lincoln’s expectations were high. What he thought would be a means to settle the West and build commerce has become the infrastructure that moves the American economy and virtually everything that touches us in our daily lives. Not even Lincoln could have envisioned the railroad we have today, but he would be proud.”

— Jim Young, Union Pacific Chairman

GOVERNOR ENDS MAIN STREET PROGRAM. The State of Kansas has ended the successful Main Street Program which has revitalized over 50 downtowns. Below are excerpts from the Topeka Capital-Journal (9-22-11):

The Kansas Main Street program, established in 1985, provided funds, organization and support for local partners throughout the state looking to grow and maintain small businesses downtown. As of this week, there were 25 Kansas communities involved.

Bob Carlson, executive director of Holton Main Street, called the state program “one of the most effective programs in the Department of Commerce” and said its investments kept some small towns from drying up commercially.

But Carlson said he wanted to emphasize to stakeholders that Holton is still tied to the National Main Street Center and in the long-term will build on the foundation already established.

“It hurts, not only that they chose to shut down the Kansas Main Street program, but the way in which they did it,” Carlson said. “I think all of our Kansas Main Street communities will continue to function as they always have — as they did two days ago — we will just lose some of the services the state provided.”

Carlson said those services included three main things: quarterly training sessions, technical assistance and no-interest loans through a program called Incentive Without Walls.

The IWW program required entrepreneurs to match every dollar of loan money with three of their own. Over 26 years, Carlson said $556,856,397 in public and private reinvestment went to 50 Kansas communities. He said that helped open or expand 3,678 businesses which created 8,518 new jobs.

“Kansas Main Street is one of the few state agencies that I am aware of that really focuses on small businesses,” Carlson said. “That’s a good thing. Small businesses create the vast majority of jobs.”

In the early 2000s, a Kansas State professor estimated that 400 Kansas towns were dying. Obviously, the Main Street Program is one way to counter this trend.

LUXEMBOURG HAS NEW TRAILS NETWORK. The following is excerpted from the New York Times (9-23-12)

“Luxembourg is laced with a national network of cycling paths — known as PCs, for the French term pistescyclables — which perambulate through a pretty, undulating landscape with only the occasional, briefly daunting incline. The project was set in motion in 1999 and is about two-thirds finished. Right now 23 separate paths — about 600 miles in total — crisscross the nation.”

BLUE CROSS FEATURES FLINT HILLS TRAIL IN AD. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas have been featuring a photo of the Flint Hills Nature Trail in newspaper advertisements placed in Kansas newspapers. The ad links health with recreation. Although the ad calls the 117-mile trail the Kanza Rail-Trail, the extra publicity is still appreciated by Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy.

SUNFLOWER CHALLENGE GRANTMAKERS QUOTED IN NYT. Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy director Richard Stein and his wife Peggy (ex officio director) were recently quoted in a front page article in the New York Times (10-05-12) describing the importance of The Land Institute’s work. They attended the institute’s popular Prairie Festival in late September near Salina. Here’s what was reported:

The festival’s ability to connect the dots between the local and the global has lured Dr. Richard Stein, a dentist, and his wife, Peggy, a teacher, from Dodge City, Kan., for the last two gatherings.

“I felt like last year, after hearing the speakers, I really understood what’s happening in the world in a whole different way,” said Ms. Stein, who admitted to finding few liked-minded people in the state’s southwestern quadrant, now decimated by drought. “The big picture was even more clear. And it really helped us see where we needed to go in making some decisions with our lives.”

“I was always wondering if we would like it because we are not farmers,” she added.

“But we’re all eaters,” her husband interjected.

Earlier in the year, the couple issued a $1,000 challenge grant to rails-to-trails supporters. Every dollar donated (up to $1,000) by the end of the year will be matched. In essence it doubles the value of your contribution. To donate, send a check to SRTC, P.O. Box 44-2043, Lawrence, KS 66044.


Sept. 24, 2012

STATE NAT’L RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROGRAM TO RECEIVE $2 MILLION. The State of Kansas has opted out of the National Recreational Trails Program ostensibly to increase flexibility for funding for the program. These federal funds are administered by the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Originally, $1.3 million was allocated, but now $2 million will be available. Kansas received a total of $12.8 million from 1993 through 2011 in NRTP funds to help pay for 269 trails projects. It is hoped that KDWPT will issue grant guidelines which will allow nonprofits to obtain grants. That is why nonprofits are urged to contact KDWPT now and request that the guidelines: (1) allow nonprofits to qualify; (2) not require expensive engineering studies or standards; (3) not require inclusion of a trail project in a five-year master plan; and, (4) not require that grant recipients come up with the money upfront and then be reimbursed after it is built.

WALNUT VALLEY METRIC BIKE RIDE SEPT. 30. The Walnut Valley Metric Bike Ride will be held on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 9:00 am at the Winfield Recreation Center, 624 College St.,Winfield. There are 35 and 65 mile routes through scenic Cowley County. Proceeds will go to Prairie Travelers, Inc. which manages the 8-mile Prairie Sunset Trail. Last year approximately $3,000 was raised for the organization. For more information, go to: http://www.prairietravelers.org/events.php

ECOTOURISM STEERING COMMITTEE CREATED. Governor Sam Brownback has formed a Kansas Ecotourism Steering Committee to help guide ecotourism efforts in Kansas. ”Based on jobs, tourism overall is the third-largest industry in Kansas, and has a total economic impact of more than $5.4 billion. In 2011, more than 790,000 people participated in wildlife-watching activities in Kansas, and made more than $208 million in trip-related purchases .” (Office of the Governor news release Sept. 19, 2012).

Unfortunately, there is not a single trail advocate on the 16-member committee.

DOUGLAS COUNTY SUPPORTS AGRITOURISM. The Douglas County Commission is poised to adopt this definition of “Agritourism”:

“Agritourism is the intersection of agriculture and tourism, when the public visits rural areas for recreation, education, enjoyment, entertainment, adventure or relaxation. Agritourism uses the rural experience as a tool for economic development.”

The sponsor of the amendment believes it will “allow landowners to bypass site plan proposals for activities like farmers’ markets, small-scale ancillary retail sales, winery tours, event rental or farm stays. Instead there would be areas zoned for such agriculture/tourism activities, and the county codes and planning departments would review their use.”

FLINT HILLS TRAIL RUN RAISES $800. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy volunteer Darin Schneidewin of Lyndon reports that he organized a run on the Flint Hills Nature Trail from Vassar to Quenemo on August 18 to celebrate his birthday. The $803 raised by 27 runners was donated to KRTC. Also, KRTC director Kareem King of Osage City reports that a nursing home resident who uses a wheelchair closely follows the progress of the FHNT and wants to go on the trail. King plans to take him to a trail segment so he can travel on it. He is very excited about this.

CITY OF BUSHONG TO LEASE TRAIL SEGMENT. Scott Allen, Vice President of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that the City of Bushong is planning to lease the Flint Hills Nature Trail within its city limits. The City plans to mow and otherwise maintain the trail segment plus it may install facilities for trail users. Bushong is located in Lyon County north of Emporia.

HIKING IN THE CHIPPEWA HILLS. Many Kansans have never heard of the scenic and wooded Chippewa Hills which lie six miles west of Ottawa. The hills are high above the Marais Des Cygnes River. Camp Chippewa is nestled in the hills and is a 640-acre United Methodist Church camp (the public can rent it as well). There are various nature trails through the oak-hickory forest on the camp and if one gets permission from the caretaker, one can hike the trails when the camp is not in use. Nearby is the 1839 Chippewa Indian Cemetery. There was a Chippewa and Munsee Reservation in the Chippewa Hills at one time. Directions to the camp: go West on K-68 from Ottawa five miles to Idaho Rd and then go South (Left) for about two miles. Go East (Left) until you reach the caretaker’s house. To reach the cemetery, go south on Idaho Rd. about 1 mile to Labette Rd. Then go East (Left) for ¾ mi; North (Left) on Idaho Terr. for about ½ mile. Where the road turns Right (East) go straight ahead on the dead-end road. The road and cemetery are open to the public. To download a map of the camp (and its nature trails), go to: http://www.kansaseast.org/pages/detail/1082

August 16, 2012

OLD SMOKY HILL TRAIL. The Pond Creek Stage Station in Wallace was built in 1866 and served as a station for the Butterfield Overland Dispatch on the Old Smoky Hill Trail. The station was restored using the Kansas State Rehabilitation Tax Credit. The innovative historic preservation tax credit program began in 2001 and recently celebrated its 1,000th project (Source: Kansas Preservation, Vol. 34, No. 2, 2012). Legislation has been proposed to make the SMT a national historic trail.

BUILT ENVIROMENT AND OUTDOOR SUMMIT. The annual Built Environment and Outdoor Summit is a three-day conference scheduled this year for October 24-26 in Manhattan and always includes workshops on trail-building, funding and development. For more information, go to: http://www.kansasbeos.org/about-the-summit.html

CITY OF GALVA TO PAVE TRAIL SEGMENT. Joyce Walker with Central Kansas Conservancy reports that the City of Galva is planning to pave the Sunflower Santa Fe Trail within the city limits. The concrete path will be one-half mile in length. The City is also going to move a gazebo to the trail. Enthusiasm in the Galva area is building and once funding is obtained, the trail will be extended from one mile west of the community to McPherson where it will eventually connect with the Meadowlark Trail. The first mile of completed trail with crushed limestone was dedicated on July 4.

KANSAS BYWAYS BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN PLAN. KDOT has received a $260,000 federal National Scenic Byways Program grant to “develop a strategic plan to better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians with safe facilities while traveling the State’s Byways…” (Source: KDOT news release). Once the plan is complete, Kansas may be eligible for federal funding for building multiuse paths within Scenic Byways corridors. This could allow linkages to be developed between existing long-distance trails in the Sunflower State. However, the new transportation law 21st Century MAP-21 has apparently eliminated direct funding for the National Scenic Byways Program, though projects could be eligible for funds under the Transportation Alternative Program.

NEW FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES PROGRAM. This summer Congress eliminated the Transportation Enhancements Program which has funded the development of scores of trails in Kansas over the last 20 years. The new transportation law is called 21st Century MAP-21 and substitutes Transportation Alternatives for the TEP program. Under the TA program, funding will decrease 33% to $800 million/year. This means that Kansas will get around $7.3 million/year. The problem is states can opt-out and transfer up to 50% to any other programs such as highways. Unless, the Kansas Secretary of Transportation and governor are lobbied hard by trail/biking advocates, this could happen in Kansas, and funding for trails in the Sunflower State would shrine even more.

THREE BRIDGES TRAIL RECEIVES GRANT. Fred Peterson, Marquette City Clerk, reports that the City of Marquette has just received a $12,000 grant from the Mid Kansas Cooperative Association. This follows the receipt of $6,000 from the Marquette Community Foundation; $5,000 from the Timmon’s Foundation; and $5,000 allocated by the City for a total of $28,000. Funds will be used to match a $25,000 grant by the Sunflower Foundation. Construction on the trail is expected to begin in late fall on the two-mile rail-trail. Crushed limestone will be installed on the Three Bridges Trail.

HIAWATHA BIKE AND WALKING TRAIL FUNDED. A federal Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program grant of $782,967 has been awarded to the City of Hiawatha to be used to fund construction of a fitness and school trail. The City was awarded a $22,000 grant from the Sunflower Foundation early in the year to be used as a match. Construction could start as early as 2013. The first phase will connect several locations in east Hiawatha including Little Hands Day Care Center, Hiawatha Aquatic Park, Fisher Community Center, Hiawatha High School, and Maple Heights Nursing Home (Source: KDOT news release).



July 11, 2012

SYMPHONY IN THE FLINT HILLS INFORMATIONAL CAMPAIGN A SUCCESS. The 6,000 visitors to the Symphony in the Flint Hills held east of Council Grove accessed the concert site via the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Volunteer docents from Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy explained the trail to concert-goers next to attractive signs which highlighted the trail’s attributes. KRTC President Doug Walker reports, “A big thank-you to all the volunteers who made our trail and organization look great yesterday. A special thanks to Scott Allen for taking the lead on this. Many hours of work went into this, but we will see the fruits of Scott’s labor in the years to come.

The governor promoted the trail on three different occasions yesterday- Ribbon cutting on the trail, a talk to the Patrons and sponsors and again from the stage prior to the start of the concert. With the recent articles in the Wichita Eagle and Emporia Gazette, the governor and our talking to literally thousands of people yesterday, our trail received more positive publicity than at any time in our history.”
Scott Allen, Kanza Vice-president reports:
“Today was awesome, to say the least. It exceeded my expectations. The governor dedicated most of his speech in the Patrons tent to the Flint Hills Nature Trail. He is fully and completely supportive of what we are doing and did a ribbon-cutting of the new section of the trail. The support he has given us and his decision to combine wildlife and parks with tourism are by far the two best things any politician has ever done for us. Today was a turning point for us and a new day has dawned.”

IOLA TRAIL SECTION COMPLETED. David Toland with Thrive Allen County reports that the new section of the Prairie Spirit Trail within the city limits of Iola is now complete. Asphalt has been laid and a pedestrian crossing signal across US 59 is now operational. The trail segment goes 1.5 miles from Cofachique Park at the north end of town to Riverside Park. Still to be installed is a unique archway.

Thrive Allen County successfully obtained three grants to assist in developing the trail. Grants were received from the Sunflower Foundation, The Health Foundation of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas Health Foundation. The next step is to develop the trail from Riverside Park to Humboldt a distance of 6.5 miles. A local group of volunteers has been cutting back brush every Saturday on this section.

. US Interior Secretary Salazar will be in Kansas for two very special events. On Friday July 13th, he will be at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve for the Grand Opening of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Visitor’s Center and during the morning of Saturday, July 14th, he will be at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan to dedicate the Kansas River as a National Recreational Water Trail. Governor Brownback is also planning to rededicate the Flint Hills Nature Trail on July 14 at the Flint Hills Discovery Center. The public is invited to attend.

GASLIGHT BEER GARDENS IN LAWRENCE RENTS BIKES. The new Gaslight Beer Gardens on the north side of the Kaw River Bridge in Lawrence is now renting bicycles to those who want to ride on the nearby levee trail and the mountain bike paths in Riverfront Park. Live music can be also heard at the outdoor gardens.

KANZA RECEIVES $25,000 GRANT. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has received a $25,000 recognition grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to develop the Flint Hills Nature Trail from Quenemo (K-68) to Pomona town. The funds were matched by another Wichita foundation. Most of the funds will be used for crushed limestone on the four miles. The main obstacle is replacing a long burned out bridge.

SUNFLOWER RAIL-TRAILS CONSERVANCY MEETING. Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its summer meeting on Saturday August 4 in Hillsboro. All trail enthusiasts are invited to attend. The meeting will begin at 11:00 am at Little Pleasures Coffeehouse located at 119 N. Main. A field trip after the meeting adjourns at 2:30 pm will be held on the Sunflower Santa Fe Trail at Galva.

SUNFLOWER SF TRAIL SEGMENT DEDICATED. Joye Walker with Central Kansas Conservancy reports that a dedication ceremony was held July 7 for a one-mile stretch of the Sunflower SF Trail at Galva. About 20 people attended the event. A crushed limestone surface has been installed going one mile west of Galva. As more funds are obtained, the trail segment will be extended to McPherson and the Meadowlark Trail which goes north to Lindborg and the Valkommen Trail.

GREEN ENERGY BUSINESS PARK TRAILS. The plan for converting the former Farmland Industries plant site in east Lawrence into a Green Energy Business Park contains two proposed trails. One paved recreational path would extend north-south from 19th Street to 23rd St. the other would be a nature trail along a creek with a natural treadway.

BEST HIKING TRAILS IN KANSAS. A website lists the best hiking trails in Kansas. Go to:

ARTICLES IN WICHITA EAGLE AND EMPORIA GAZETTE FEATURE THE FLINT HILLS TRAIL. There were two recent articles in the Wichita Eagle and Emporia Gazette on the Flint Hills Nature Trail.
PLAN FOR KANSAS CITY’S ROCK ISLAND CORRIDOR RELEASED. KU graduate students in an Urban Planning Department class called Transportation Planning Implementation completed the Rock Island Trail Study for the Mid-America Regional Council’s “Creating Sustainable Places” project. “The 200-page report includes a sustainability assessment, a review of similar trail corridors, costs, transit alternatives, and a three-phase implementation strategy:

The proposed trail would:

· Add 17 miles to the region’s trail system.

· Cost $5.5 – 9 million.

· Serve around 100,000 – 200,000 people annually.

· Increase home values. (Average increase of $9,000 per home alng similar trails).

· Promote local sales revenues. (At similar trails average trail users spend up to $400).

· Promote public health.

· Connect to the Katy Trail.”

The above is excerpted from “The Jayhawk Planner” (Department of Urban Planning, May 2012).


May 25, 2012


CENTRAL KANSAS CONSERVANCY RECEIVES SUNFLOWER GRANT. Central Kansas Conservancy recently received a Sunflower Foundation grant for $27,000 to build the Meadowlark Trail north from Hess Park in McPherson to Hilton for a distance of 3.5 miles. It was matched by a Wichita rails-to-trails supporter. Also, crushed limestone screenings should be installed for one mile on the Sunflower SF Trail west from Galva to McPherson this summer.


POMONA SECTION OF FLINT HILLS TRAIL OPENS. Owen Harbinson, Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy Division Superintendent for the Marais Des Cygnes Division reports, “We now have one mile of trail open with screenings on the west edge of Ottawa, and two miles open with screenings near Pomona. The Ottawa trail is from Maple St. mile post 354.62 to the Marias des Cygnes bridge mile post 355.6. The Pomona trail is from Florida Road mile post 362.7 to Colorado rd. mile post 364.75.”


A 3.5-mile section of the FHNT recently opened from Quenemo at K-68 northwest to Ratner Rd. That segment follows scenic wooded Salt Creek Valley and passes by recreated wetlands. Trail builders would now like the residents of Quenemo and Pomona to get excited about the trail project and help build the remaining trail segment between the two towns.


SUNFLOWER RAIL-TRAILS MEETING ON NAT’L TRAILS DAY. Sunflower Rail-Trail Conservancy will be holding its early summer meeting on Saturday, June 2 in downtown Iola. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend the meeting which will begin at 11:00 a.m. at the offices of Thrive Allen County (12 West Jackson Ave.). After introductions, the meeting will temporarily adjourn to El Chorro restaurant across the square. After the meeting adjourns around 2:30 p.m. there will be field trip to the Prairie Spirit Trail Extension.


POMONA TRAILS MAY CONNECT WITH FLINT HILLS AND LANDON NATURE TRAILS. The US Army Corp Engineers Pomona Lake Region is interested in holding discussions with Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy about a trail interconnect plan to current, and planned federal (and state) parks and trails at Pomona Lake. Pomona Lake will be the natural “crossroads” for the Landon and Flint Hills Nature Trails. It’s possible that the FHNT could connect with Pomona State Park via a ½ mile path along K-368 and COE land along Coon Creek gets within ½ mile of the Landon Nature Trail at Michigan Valley.


TALLGRASS PRAIRIE PRESERVE VISITOR CENTER OPENS. The new $6 million visitor center at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve has opened to the public. It houses interpretive displays along with education and office facilities. “The low-profile visitor center with its grassed over roof was designed to be visually unobtrusive on the prairie landscape and to architecturally mesh with nearby historic buildings through the use of similar stonework. The energy efficient building was built using green construction techniques.” Exhibits will be installed at later date. www.nps.gov/tapr/


SCREENINGS DOWN FROM COUNCIL GROVE TO TURNPIKE. Scott Allen, Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy Superintendent for the Neosho Valley Division reports that crushed limestone screenings have been installed on the Flint Hills Nature Trail from Council Grove east about 23 miles to the Kansas Turnpike. Once railings are installed on the Rock Creek Bridge and signs are installed, the trail will be open to bicyclists, walkers, joggers, and equestrians.


HISTORIC HAYS HOUSE REOPENS. The historic 1857 Hays House has reopened after undergoing extensive remodeling after a fire destroyed the kitchen in December. Twenty-five community members purchased the restaurant and hired former executive chef and general manager Rick Paul. The Hays House served many travelers along the Santa Fe Trail including Kit Carson, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, Jesse James, George Armstrong Custer and Seth Hayes, great-grandson of Daniel Boone. It is the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi in continuous operation.


WALKING THE BEST MEDICINE.“Just 30 minutes of walking per day lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s by 50 percent, lessens arthritis pain by 47 percent, reduces chances of developing diabetes by 58 percent, lowers anxiety and depression by 48 percent, reduces risk of death by 23 percent and is the best therapy for reducing fatigue and improving quality of life.” –Dr. Mike Evans


April 9, 2012

THREE BRIDGES TRAIL RECEIVES $25,000 GRANT. Fred Peterson, Marquette City Clerk, reports that the City has received a $25,000 grant from the Sunflower Foundation to develop the two-mile Three Bridges Trail in that community. The Marquette City Council has indicated they would commit $5,000 towards the match for grant to develop the rail-trail. He also believes $6,000 will be obtained from the Marquette Community Foundation Fund and $2,000 from the Marquette Chamber of Commerce leaving $12,000 to be raised for the required match. “I am excited that we are finally going to actually build the trail after a twelve-year effort, Peterson says. Patience and perseverance do ultimately pay off.”

LANDON TRAIL DESCRIPTION. Did you know the Landon Nature Trail is the only trail in America which crosses and connects both the Santa Fe and Oregon National Historic Trails? It crosses both Union Ferry Branch of Oregon Trail at SE 42nd in Topeka and Santa Fe Nat’l Historic Trail north of US 56 north of Overbrook. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has asked the National Park Service to assist in installing informational signs for trail users.

CHALLENGE GRANT ISSUED BY SUNFLOWER VP. Richard Stein, Vice President of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, has issued a $1,000 challenge grant to all Kansas trail advocates. If SRTC receives $1,000 in donations, grants or memberships by January 1, 2013, the Dodge City dentist will personally match the total donated. So, please consider donating $50 or more today by making out a check to “SRTC” and sending it to P.O. Box 44-2043, Lawrence , KS 66044 . The Conservancy has acquired six out-of-service rail corridors and needs funds to get these converted into rail-trails including the Western Sky Trail from Chanute to Fredonia.

ALLEN COUNTY RECEIVES TRAIL GRANTS. David Toland with Thrive Allen County reports the following: “The Sunflower Foundation has approved a $22,818 grant to build the Prairie Spirit Trail Extension from Humboldt to Iola. The Health Care Foundation of Greater KC has also approved the matching grant.

The Sunflower grant will complete 4 of the 6.5 miles of the trail. We will be working with the county to encourage them to use their resources to complete the last 2.5 miles to K-224. The county commission has generally been very supportive of this effort.

The Westar Green Team is very interested in doing this project, and they did a full trip up the trail with a group of Humboldt and Iola volunteers about two months ago. They were excited about the potential, and felt that the trail was in much better condition that they expected or as compared to other trail projects they’ve done around the state.”

PRAIRIE SPIRIT TRAIL EXTENSION PROGRESSES IN IOLA. According to David Toland, “construction of the 1.5 miles of the Prairie Spirit Trail Extension within the city limits of Iola is ahead of schedule. All of the concrete curb cuts have been completed on the extension within Iola thanks to the good weather, and nearly all of the lighting is in place, along with the bollards. The contractors should start laying asphalt this month.

Also, a Kansas Health Foundation Recognition Grant was recently awarded. It includes $7,329 for crosswalk signs, and way-finding signs to direct PSRT users to healthy lifestyles amenities and facilities within Iola. These will all be done as part of implementation of the Vision Iola Built Environment Plan.”

LAWRENCE DEVELOPER TO BUILD CONNECTING TRAIL. An Austin , Texas developer is planning to build a multi-use path that will connect the new Aspen Heights development in Lawrence with the Naismith Trail in south Lawrence . The developer is building 300 student housing units at 31st and Ousdahl Streets. The connecting path will allow students to ride north to 23rd Street on a recreational path and then use Naismith Drive to travel to the Kansas University campus.

BILL IN LEGISLATURE WOULD TAX RAIL-TRAILS. A hearing on HB 2735 was held by the Kansas House Transportation Committee on March 5 in Topeka . The bill, drafted and pushed by the Kansas Farm Bureau, would make managers of railbanked rail-trails pay real estate taxes even though easements are not taxable under the Kansas Constitution. Further, under the bill, trail managers would have to pay back taxes dating to the time the rail-trail was railbanked. This financial impact of this would be so great it would stop the rails-to-trails movement in its tracks. Doug Walker, Scott Allen, Frank Meyer and Dale Crawford, all with Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, testified that the bill should be amended to exempt both the trail manager and the adjacents from having to pay taxes (this is the way it is for county roads).

According to Doug Walker, President of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, “For the first time, the rails-to-trails movement was able to mobilize trail supporters statewide. Many legislators commented on how many emails they received. Rep. Arpke from Salina said he’d received 75 emails in opposition to the bill which he called ‘unheard of’. I feel that perhaps the tide has turned in favor of trails in the legislature. It is now more urban and trails are a known quantity and supported by the general public. It may cause the farm bureau to think twice before introducing any more anti-trail legislation. I suggest that next year we prepare our own legislative agenda to remedy some of the Kansas Recreational Trails Act.”

Representatives of KanBikeWalk and Kansas Recreation and Parks Association also testified against the bill. The Sunflower Foundation, which is very respected in Topeka , had their lobbyists monitor the issue and they attended the hearing. It is likely the bill won’t be worked in committee this session, but can be reintroduced next year. Also, the text of the bill could be amended onto another moving piece of legislation this year.


Pennsylvania rails-to-trails pioneer Laurie Lafontaine has this to say about how she overcame trail opposition (Rails to Trails magazine Spring/Summer 2012):

“One way was networking. I started out asking my friends to introduce me to the key people (opinion makers) who lived along the railroad corridor. I was able to talk to them one-on-one. Then I would ask these people if they would mind hosting a meeting for their neighbors, and I offered to bring refreshments. I made so many cookies, muffins and cakes, you wouldn’t believe! By talking to small groups of people and letting them ask questions, I was able to build support. You have to listen to people because they have legitimate concerns. I also had the parks director introduce me to the other county officials, so we able to educate them. It’s like a campaign–you have to think all of it out ahead of time.”


FEBRUARY 10, 2012

KANZA REACHES 50 MILEMARK. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy as completed 50 miles of trail! This remarkable achievement has Been reached within only ten years. Plus, the Conservancy has raised over $750,000 in grants during the same period, so the average cost of trail development has been $15,000 per mile which is far less than what was spent on the Prairie Spirit Trail by the State of Kansas. This achievement is even more remarkable when one realizes that the 117-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail is the longest rail-trail in America being developed by a nonprofit organization.

Recently, the organization received a $23,000 supplemental grant from the WS & EC Jones Trust, Bank of America, Trustee, to complete a 23-mile section between Council Grove and east of Admire and a $18,000 grant from the Lattner Family Foundation to complete 3-mile stretch of the Landon Nature Trail south from Overbrook. Plus, a re-designation of $21,000 in funds will allow the completion of a 10-mile section of the Flint Hills Trail from US 75 west of Vassar to Quenemo. These projects should be completed by the end of the summer.

THREE BRIDGES TRAIL IN MARQUETTE PROGRESSES. Marquette City Clerk Fred Peterson reports, “We had a Marquette trail work day last Saturday, January 28, 2012. Even the Mayor showed up along with 15 other people to trim trees, clear brush, and pick up trash or debris. Our monthly public interest meetings and continual education of the city council and articles in the newspaper is starting to pay off. Our Public Works Director is even grading part of the west end of the trail. We also applied for a $25,000 grant from the Sunflower Foundation.”

MARCH 3 SPRING SRTC MEETING. The Spring 2012 meeting of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will be held on Saturday, March 3 in Cottonwood Falls at the Grand Central Hotel. Items for discussion include the Railbanking Initiative (5 of the 6 rail corridors have been railbanked) and the revised Good Neighbor Policy. The meeting will begin at 11:00 a.m. All trails enthusiasts are invited. After the meeting adjourns at 2:00 pm, there will be a field trip to a newly-opened section of the Flint Hills Nature Trail which cuts through tallgrass covered hills.

BLACK HOOF PARK AND LAKE LENEXA. The following is excerpted from KRPA Today, Winter, 2012.

“Just a few miles off K-7 on Monticello Road in Lenexa and nestled in the forest among rock outcroppings, is the beautiful Lake Lenexa and the recently completed Black Hoof Park. The 240-acre park with its 35-acre lake centerpiece, represents a harmonious balance between nature sanctuary and recreational destination, and is Lenexa’s leading example of the city’s focus on sustainability.

“Black Hoof Park, which was named in honor of the Second Chief Black Hoof of the Shawnee Indian tribe, was construction as a Rain to Recreation project aimed at reducing flooding, preserving the woodlands and streamways, and providing new recreational and educational opportunities for the community. In addition to Lake Lenexa, the park features three wetlands…and five miles of trails connect the lake to surrounding neighborhoods along protected streamways.”

“(T)here are many new sustainable elements and features, and has enhanced the park’s reputation as a recreation destination for the entire family….[T]hese include a nature-themed destination play area, which blends traditional play structures with natural features. The play area invites children and adults to connect with nature through a play stream, climbing boulders, stepping stones, balance logs and educational opportunities. Equipment in the new play area offers a wide variety of exercise options for all ages and features spinners, a zip-line track and the tallest slide in Lenexa.”

The park is located at 9053 Monticello Road in Lenexa.


Excerpted from the American Hiking Society’s website:

“National Trails Day® is a celebration of trails that evolved from the report of President Ronald Reagan’s President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors. In 1987, the report recommended that all Americans be able to go out their front doors and within fifteen minutes, be on trails that wind through their cities or towns and bring them back without retracing steps…America’s 200,000 miles of trails allow us access to the natural world for recreation, education, exploration, solitude, inspiration, and much more. Trails take us to good physical and mental health by providing us with a chance to breathe fresh air, get our hearts pumping, and escape from our stresses.”

Register your trail event at:



KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – January 24, 2012

Sea Life KC, Kansas City’s first large scale aquarium, will finally receive the 130,000 gallons of water it takes to fill it up. The aquarium will house 5,000 different species of sea life including sharks.

Visitors will be able to walk through underwater tunnels to get a fully immersed experience.

“I like the immersion experience – the face that you walk in the door, you feel like you’re in an underwater environment,” said Aaron Sprowl, the curator for Sea Life KC.

The “theming,” or underwater dwellings, were each made to resemble coral reef and other ocean plant life. The water is designed to mimic tropical water.

“We’ll have our first fish arrive at the beginning of March,” Sprowl said.

Experts said it will take 30 days for the fish to transition into the tank. The water filling process is expected to take two days.

“I’ve worked with many different aquariums. One of my favorite things about the Sea Life franchise is the theming concept, “Sprowl said.

The aquarium opens in April. Admission will range from $19 for adults and $12 for children.

Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

It will open in Crown Center.

KANSAS RIVER WATER TRAIL PROPOSED. “Establishing the Flint Hills area as a new easement-based Flint Hills Conservation Area and a proposed Kansas River Water Trail are among 100 projects nationwide that are highlighted in a new report — two in every state — as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect Americans to the outdoors… The Kansas River is a unique natural resource for Kansas and provides an attractive regional recreational opportunity. Over two million people live in the various cities and towns along the river, from the Kansas City metro area west to Junction City. The designation and development of a “Kansas River Water Trail” is a high priority for the Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, and would be the state’s first public water trail.

—Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, US Dept. of Interior news release 11-01-11.



January 18, 2012

KATY TRAIL EXTENSION TO KCMO BEING BUILT. The KC Star (1-13-12) reports that 3.2 miles of the Katy Trail extension trail called the Rock Island Trail being built to the Kansas City Metro Area is now complete.  The trail will run from Pleasant Hill to Windsor where it connects with the famous Katy Trail. The trail is being railbanked under the National Trails Act and will be constructed on the railroad bed instead of within the right-of-way as originally planned. This will reduce costs by about 50 percent because new bridges won’t have to be constructed. It is estimated that it will take three years to complete the Rock Island Trail to Pleasant Hill. Then efforts can begin to extend it to Lee’s Summit. Eventually it will connect with the MetroGreen trail network so that trail users will be able to ride all the way from Kansas City to St. Louis.

IOLA TRAIL SEGMENT ON TRACK.  Chris Weiner, resident of Iola and on the SRTC board, reports that due to the warm winter, the City of Iola has been able to start construction on the 1.5-mile Prairie Spirit Trail Extension segment lying within the city limits. Concrete is being poured for the base and asphalt will be laid on top. If the good weather holds, it should be finished by the end of March. Otherwise it will be completed by the end of May. Thrive Allen County has applied for two grants to build the remaining portion of the Prairie Spirit Trail Extension (6.5 miles)l south to Humboldt.

TRAILS FOR SCENIC BYWAYS. Becky Pepper, KDOT’s bike-ped coordinator, reports that KDOT has applied for a federal grant to prepare a plan for building multi-use paths along official Kansas Scenic Byways. If the grant is received and funds become available for pathway development, some of these paths could possibly connect rail-trails. One example is the Prairie Trail Byway which could connect the Meadowlark Trail in Lindsborg with the undeveloped Quivira Trail which stretches 38 miles between Lyons and Beaver. Also, a path could be built along the Flint Hills Scenic Byway from the Flint Hills Nature Trail to the Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve. See: www.ksbyways.org

TRANSPORTATION ENHANCEMENT FUNDS AVAILABLE AGAIN.  Becky Pepper, KDOT’s bike-ped coordinator, reports that KDOT has decided that federal funding is now secure for another round of TE grants. The grant application deadline will probably be in either the summer or fall, 2012. Many Kansas cities and towns such as Topeka, Lawrence, Iola and Lindsborg, have used TE funds to be build rail-trails and other multi-use paths.

NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL PROGRAM FUNDS NOW AVAILABLE. Mary Hanson, outdoor recreation planner for the Omaha regional office of the National Park Service, reports that there isn’t a Kansas state-imposed moratorium currently in place on using federal National Recreational Trail and Land and Water Conservation Fund Program funds for rails-to-trails projects. A state moratorium was imposed in the 1990s, but apparently has been lifted. Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism administers the funds.

KANZA RECEIVES $18,000 GRANT. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has announced that it has received an $18,000 grant from the Lattner Family Foundation based in Delray Beach, Florida to build a section of the Landon Nature Trail which stretches 38 miles between Topeka and Pomona Lake. “We are very excited about this generous grant from the Lattner Family Foundation,” offered Karl Umscheid, Overbrook Superintendent.

“We hope to start construction in the spring. Once this segment between Overbrook and Wolf Creek is completed we expect that the community of Overbrook will rally behind our efforts to complete the trail to Pomona Lake.”

The Landon Nature Trail crosses the Santa Fe National Historic Trail at Overbrook where trail swales (ruts) can be seen in the nearby cemetery. It is hoped a short side trail can be built to the swales and a community park which contains a lake.

LANDON TRAIL IN TOPEKA PROGRESSES.  The City of Topeka has completed the Landon Nature Trail in Topeka to 45th St. The trail crosses the Union Ferry Branch of the Oregon National Historic Trail north of SE 42nd St. A sign announcing this historic crossing could be placed on the Landon Trail. The next phase is from 45th to Sanneman Drive where KRTC’s section begins and is essentially completed to the Clinton Wildlife Area. The City of Topeka leases 4.6 miles from the Conservancy.


January 6 , 2012

GRANT AWARDED FOR SUNFLOWER AND MEADOWLARK TRAILS. Joye Walker with Central Kansas Conservancy reports that the friends groups of the Meadowlark Trail and the Sunflower/ Santa Fe Trail each received $1,000 from the McPherson County Community Foundation. The funds will be used to install limestone screening. In Galva it will be used in the first mile west of town. The McPherson Friends of the Trail group will be working on the Meadowlark Trail and will be laying screenings down in the first mile from the trailhead at McPherson on north.

The 33-mile Sunflower SF Trail crosses the historic Santa Fe National Historic Trail and the Chisholm Trail near Canton. Currently, the Meadowlark Trail has one mile of trail open, known as the “Sunset Walk” north of McPherson. At the northern end, the 13-mile Meadowlark Trail follows a portion of the Smoky Hiill River and connects with Lindsborg’s 2.5-mile paved Valkommen Trail. Just a short bike ride north of Lindsborg lies Coronado Heights Park where there are a series of mt. bike trails.

KANSAS & U.S. RAILS-TO-TRAILS STATISTICS. Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, an umbrella group of local rails-to-trails organizations and a an information clearinghouse, has these new state statistics: There are now more than 10 completed rail-trails totaling 73 miles; seven partially developed rail-trails totaling 226 miles; and, over eight rails-to-trails projects totaling 175 miles in Kansas.

According to the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, there are now more than 20,000 miles on 1,600 rail-trails nationwide that are used by tens of millions of Americans every year.

SUNFLOWER RECEIVES BEQUEST. Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy has received a $1,000 bequest from Cecile Kellenbarger who, before she passed on, asked her husband, John Moore, to provide the funds to the Conservancy. Cecile was on the Board of Directors of SRTC and was instrumental in getting the Prairie Sunset Trail completed. SRTC President Larry Ross says, “We will use her generous bequest in our efforts to create an interconnected trail system in the Sunflower State. Cecile’s vision and legacy continue to this day.”

“Dr. Doug and Dorothy Iliff bought 80 acres from a developer to preserve the native woodlands and prairie in its native state. The prairie, after years serving as neglected pasture, is gradually being restored by burning and reinstitution of native species. Several miles of trails have been carved through the grass and woods to serve as walking, running, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking courses. A replica of Topeka’s original log cabin lies on the trails and is available for overnight visits by organized groups.
Wildlife includes deer, wild turkey, fox, bobcat, and the usual assortment of common critters. Red-tailed hawks and bald eagles patrol the prairie. Visitors are welcome from dawn to dusk every day of the year. Parking is available inside the entrance on the south side of NE 31st just east of Kincaid. Access to 31st is from Happy Hollow on the west, and K-4 on the east. Please respect the land, and do not take motorized vehicles past the barrier posts.”

–excerpted from www.doctoriliff.com. The preserve is located NE of Topeka on the north side of the Kansas River.

Kansas wildlife department purchasing 700 acres of mined land for public recreation

By John Milburn – Associated Press — Associated Press, December 18, 2011

Topeka — An area of the state that was once mined for its lead and zinc deposits to fuel industrial production more than a century ago is getting a new life and purpose.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is purchasing some 700 acres in southeast Kansas that will be used for public recreation. Funding comes through a federal program that seeks to clean up contaminants left by 150 years of mining and smelting.

Members of the State Finance Council approved purchasing the land at $640 per acre in the Neosho River basin in Cherokee, Crawford, Labette and Neosho counties. The funds were from settlements with the companies that were responsible for the mining through the National Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration program.

RED HILLS TO BE PRESERVED. The Kansas Chapter of The Nature Conservancy is announced a new initiative to preserve 5,000 acres of the colorful Red Hills in southwest Kansas near Medicine Lodge. According to a letter sent to Legacy Club members, the Red Hills is the “only place in Kansas with vast mixed-grass prairies that serve as a stronghold for the lesser prairie chicken. We hope to protect 5,000 acres in the Red Hills trough conservation easements as well as restore high-priority streams. “

Ted Turner is privately conserving 43,000 acres where bison roam freely and black-footed prairie dogs once again pop up out of their dens and bark. The Z-Bar Ranch is a 42,479-acre property located along the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River in the Red Hills of south-central Kansas near Medicine Lodge. There are more caves in the Red Hills or Gyp Hills than any other place in the Sunflower State.

Clark H. Coan
Public Information Specialist
Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc.
P.O. Box 44-2043
Lawrence, KS 66044