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Back Issues - Kansas Trails News - 2009

Kansas Trail News, 6 January 2009

New Stimulus Bill Funds For KC Trail?

An article in The Kansas City Star (31 December 2008) recently mentioned in passing that the new 2009 stimulus bill could possibly fund construction of a hike/bike path along Turkey Creek in western Wyandotte County. Turkey Creek runs north-south from State Avenue east of 86th St. south to the Kansas River. If trail advocates want to see stimulus funds be used for trail projects such as this, they will have to contact Governor Sebelius and Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller. Otherwise, the funds will be only for roads and bridges.

Sunflower Recreational Trails Meeting In Fredonia.

The next meeting of Sunflower Recreational Trails, Inc. will be held on Saturday February 21 in Fredonia. The meeting will be from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and is tentatively scheduled to be held in Guero's Restaurant located on the west side of the town square. Items of discussion include railbanking initiatives and participation in the Kansas Sampler. Fredonia is located east of Wichita and north of Independence. Tentatively a field trip is planned for the Quarry Bay Trail at Fall River Lake. All trails advocates are invited to attend.


Kansas Trail News, 19 February 2009

Bike-Ped Projects For Stimulus Funds Requested.

Joel Skelley, KDOT's Multimodal Planner, sent a letter on 13 February to Kansas governmental entities requesting applications for stimulus funds for Transportation Enhancement projects. There is a 27 February deadline for responding. About 60% of TE funds are used for bike-ped projects. If you know of any bike-ped projects for which the design work is already done (or can be completed within 120 days), have the governmental entity responsible contact Skelly by e-mail(joelsk@kdot.org) or by telephone at 785-296-4209.

Emporia Trail Project.

The City of Emporia is submitting an application for TE stimulus funds to build a trail in South Emporia. The trail would run along the Cottonwood River and connect two parks.

Regional Transportation Study.

KDOT is undertaking a regional transportation study for the five-county region of Douglas, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte counties. Public input is now being received on general transportation policies at public meetings and by written comment. For example, if you believe that an interconnected network of multi-use paths and bike lanes should be created in the region, go to one of the meetings scheduled and voice your opinion. Check out the web site(www.5countystudy.org) for meeting details. You can also e-mail written comments to Angela Pritchett (angela@shockeyconsulting.com).


Kansas Trails News, 26 February 2009

Intitial Stimulus TE Grant Guidelines.

Reportedly, KDOT wants to obligate half of the $10 million within 120 days. That means the other half will be obligated after that. The stimulus TE funds are 100% federal monies--no 20% local match required. However, those governmental entities that do provide a match will score higher in the ranking process of applications. Any match can be in-kind such as the value of design work or labor that will be provided.

To date there is no firm application deadline but it probably will be by the end of March. However, KDOT needs to have by the end of Friday 27 February a one-paragraph description of the project, total project cost estimate and indication if the design work can be completed within 60 or so days. Apparently, this is just indicating an interest in pursuing an application but it is not a firm commitment. A public official can just fax a signed letter to Joel Skelley, KDOT Multimodal Planner by 4:30 pm Friday His phone number is 785-296-4209 (call for fax number) or by e-mail.

KDOT will want to spread the money around the state and not have one single project use up a good chunk of the money, so it is likely that smaller grant requests will be looked upon more favorably.

Cities To Apply For Stimulus TE Funds.

Several Kansas cities have indicated they are planning to apply for stimulus TE funds for development of multi-use paths. These projects include: 1) Extension of the Landon Trail in Topeka from 25th Street south; (2) Construction of a two-mile path along the Cottonwood River in Emporia which will link two parks; (3) Extension of the Burroughs Creek Trail in Lawrence plus feeder trails into adjacent neighborhoods; and, (4) Construction of a rail-trail within the city of Marysville.

Construction Of Blue River Rail-Trail To Start.

Steve O'Neal with Marshall County Connection reports that construction will start this spring on the first two miles of the Blue River Rail-Trail (part of the Homestead Trail). Crushed limestone will be laid down on the railroad bed going north from the city of Marysville. The path will connect with the rail-trail in the city limits of Marysville being developed by the City. The Sunflower Foundation has provided part of the development funding for the Blue River Rail-Trail.

Runway Overpass Over Rail-Trail Under Construction.

Cecile Kellenbarger with Prairie Travelers, Inc. reports that construction is underway of a runway overpass over the Prairie Sunset Trail west of Wichita. An adjacent landowner is spending $100,000 to build an overpass over the rail-trail for his landing strip. This is the first of its kind in Kansas.

Share The Road Car Tags.

KanBikeWalk is in the process of getting authorization of Share the Road car license plates. They will have to raise $10,000 for a set-up fee. The tags will have a bicycle emblem plus the slogan


Kansas Trail News, 7 March 2009

Update On "Share The Road" Car Tags.

Gina Poertner with KanBikeWalk reports that House Bill 2304 which would authorize a "Share the Road" license plate was not heard this session in the House Transportation Committee. However, the bill will still be alive in the 2010 legislative session.

Osage City Trail Moves Forward.

The City Council of Osage City in February voted 6-1 to start construction on a two-mile segment of the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Crushed limestone will be laid from 17th to 13th Street and concrete from 13th to 9th Street. Funds for this project were made available from the federal Transportation Enhancement grant program administered by KDOT. The City Manager reports that federal stimulus funds may also be possible and that he will soon begin lease negotiations with Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy which is the Flint Hills Trail manager.

American Discovery Trail Progress.

Each year more and more segments of the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail are completed. Below is a description of the trail from the American Discovery Trail website:

The American Discovery Trail (ADT) is the nation's first coast-to-coast, non-motorized trail. It is a new breed of national trail - part city, part small town, part forest, part mountains, part desert - all in one trail. In 6,800 miles of adventure, discovery and fun, it stretches from Delaware to California. It reaches across America, linking community to community and providing trail users the opportunity to journey into the heart of all that is uniquely American - its culture, heritage, landscape, and spirit.

The trail will be primarily developed and managed by nonfederal governmental entities and nonprofit groups. In Kansas the southern route of the ADT essentially follows the Santa Fe National Historic Trail utilizing the Arkansas River corridor and Flint Hills Nature Trail. It is expected that a bill establishing the ADT will be re-introduced in Congress in 2009. Previous bills have passed the U. S. Senate but stalled in the U. S. House. Each year additional segments of the Flint Hills Nature Trail component of the trail are also completed. To see the ADT route in Kansas go to the American Discovery Trail website and click on Kansas on the map.


Kansas Trail News — Spring Equinox — 20 March 2009

Stimulus Funds For Ottawa Trail.

The City of Ottawa is applying for federal Transporatation Enhancement stimulus funds to build a segment of the Flint Hills Nature Trail in eastern Ottawa. The City believes it can complete the remainder of the trail within the city limits using city funds. Funding permitting, the Osawatomie Division of the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy (KRTC) hopes to complete the Flint Hills to Ottawa this year (from Osawatomie).

Capitol To Univesity Trail Update.

The KRTC Board of Directors approved a resolution designating the organization as the Primary Advocate for this Topeka-Lawrence trail. The trail will utilize the Landon Nature Trail from Topeka to the Clinton Wildlife Area. Public lands on the north side of Clinton Lake will be used for the trail to reach the Clinton State Park and the SLT Hike and Bike Path in Lawrence. A committee is in the process of identifying the exact route. Once the route is selected, design work for the trail will begin. The trail will form a segment of the Quad States Trails Network which traverses MINK (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas).

Trailhead Improvements At Admire A Possibility.

Community support by towns lining the Flint Hills Nature Trail continues to grow. Admire's city park, located about one block north of the trail provides drinking water and restroom facilities in all seasons except winter. Admire Community PRIDE has been given an old freight depot which it hopes to relocate to a site adjacent to the trail in Admire. The depot could become a community museum with meeting space. The building may provide water and restroom facilities to augment the existing facilities. The Flint Hills Trail between Admire and Bushong is now complete. There will be a Fall Festival in the village on September 19. Trail enthusiasts are encouraged to attend this event and walk, bike or horseback ride the trail.

Trail Opportunity Still Exists.

The Iowa Trail Council is still looking for individuals or a group to develop the Lyons, Kansas to Beaver, Kansas Trail dubbed the Quivira Trail. Bicyclists, walkers, and equestrians in the Lyons or Great Bend area are encouraged to initiate this project. If you or anyone you know, might be interested in this project, contact Clark Coan at 785/842-3458 or clarkcoan@yahoo.com.

New Trail Division Formed.

The KRTC has announced it has established a new division for its Flint Hills Trail. The Osage County Division will extend from Lomax Junction (where the Landon Trail joins the Flint Hills, west of Pomona town) to the Lyon County line. Delores and Virgil Scheid will be the division superintendents. Current plans are to develop the trail from US 75 to Osage City. The trail is already developed east of US 75 to southeast of Vassar (south side of Pomona Lake). KRTC has allocated $7,000 for trail development and is seeking funds to match that amount.


Kansas Trail News, 31 March 2009

Cheyenne Bottoms Visitors Center Grand Opening.

The grand opening of the Kansas Wetlands Education Center will be held on Friday, 24 April 2009, at Cheyenne Bottoms. The center is operated by the famous Sternberg Museum of Natural History (which is operated by Ft. Hays State University) and has a large exhibit gallery and an expansive viewing area. The state-owned Cheyenne Bottoms has 19,857 acres with an adjoining 7,697 acre-preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy. Cheyenne Bottoms is a major stop for migratory birds on the Central Flyway. Walking trails wind throughout the bottoms. Check out the web site.

The center, built primarily with federal Transportation Enhancement funds, is located 10 miles northeast of Great Bend on US 156. It is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm and on Sunday from 1:00-5:00 pm. Also see this web site. (Source: The Plainskeeper, The Nature Conservancy, Kansas Chapter, Spring/Summer, 2009)

Digital Mapping Of Flint Hills Trail Underway.

Bill Sample is digital-mapping the 116-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail which stretches between Osawatomie and Herington. The maps will become available to the public on the Internet. This has already been accomplished for the Prairie Spirit Trail.

Three New Hiking Trails To Be Dedicated At Smoky Valley Ranch Preserve.

Come celebrate the opening of three new hiking trails at the Nature Conservancy's Smoky Valley Ranch Preserve on Visitor's Day on Saturday, 30 May 2009, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The preserve has 16,800 acres of short grass prairie, the endangered black-footed ferret, prairie dog towns, and a bison herd. There will be guided walks on the preserve which is in Logan County along the Colorado border. Bring your lunch and sturdy shoes, sunscreen and a hat. The event is free but reservations are required. To register telephone 785-233-4400 or e-mail by 15 May. (Source: The Plainskeeper, The Nature Conservancy, Kansas Chapter, Spring/Summer, 2009)

Third Annual Kansas Trails Conference Date Set.

Mark your calendar for the third annual Kansas Trails Conference to be held 1, 2, and 3 October 2009 in Topeka at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. As more details become known, they will be made available.

Sunflower Recreational Trails Annual Meeting 3 May 2009.

The Annual Meeting of Sunflower Recreational Trails will be held on Sunday 3 May in Concordia. The meeting will be from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the cafeteria of Cloud County Community College . All trails advocates are invited to attend. The primary topic of discussion will be fundraising. SRT will also have a booth again at the Kansas Sampler which will be happening that weekend in Concordia. Come join in the fun!

Funding Possibility For Trails Organizations.

The Good Earth Tea and Coffee Giveaway is an opportunity for trails advocates to personally receive $10,000 plus designate their favorite trail group (such as Sunflower Recreational Trails, Inc.) as a $10,000 recipient if the entry is a winner. Go to www.goodearthgiveaway.com to enter. The deadline is 19 May. Also, don't forget that every time you use www.goodsearch.com as your search engine, a small donation will also go to your favorite trails organization.


Kansas Trail News, 4 April 2009

Stimulus Transportation Enhancement Projects Selected.

KDOT has selected only six bike/pedestrian Transportation Enhancement projects to be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Fourteen TE projects were approved with a total cost of $11.4 million. KDOT received an amazing 101 applications. The bike/ped projects selected are:

  1. Prairie Spirit Rail Trail lighting enhancement between 5th and 23rd in Ottawa.
  2. Repaving the multi-use path on Clinton Parkway from Wakarusa Drive to K-10 in west Lawrence.
  3. Construction of a multi-use path on west side of Webb Road from Cedar Brook north to the path at 111th Street in Mulvane.
  4. Construction of a multi-use trail on Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation reservation 1.7 miles in length near Holton.
  5. Extend the South Indian Creek Trail approximately 1.3 miles from Southdowns Park to Hampton Park in Olathe.
  6. Construction of a pedestrian bridge for the Flint Hills Nature Trail over U.S. 75 approximately, 2.2 miles north of Lyndon. [Web Geek's Note: Although this bridge will be a part of the Flint Hills Nature Trail, the justification for this project is the elimination of the old bridge and its abutments which restrict traffic on US 75 Highway. The Osage County Commission had requested that KDOT relieve this problem; and as a result of studying solutions, the engineering work had already been completed, making it “shovel-ready.”]

A regular user of the Clinton Parkway path reports it doesn't need repaving at this time and the money could be better spent elsewhere such as extending the Burroughs Creek Trail in Lawrence. Further, the bridge over US 75 is going to cost a whopping $2 million! KDOT is going to rebuild US 75 on that section soon but apparently didn't want to spend highway funds for that. So, the $2 million could have been better spent on several more vital projects (perhaps four projects of $½ million each). It is expected that regular TE applications will still be accepted this fall for funding in the spring of 2010.

Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.

This new act is expected to be signed by President Obama and will help trails organizations recruit volunteers. It will put service to work to solve our most pressing national challenges including safeguarding the environment plus it creates a Clean Energy Corps. The Volunteer Generational Fund will provide grants to nonprofits to improve the quality and capacity of organizations to recruit and manage more volunteers. There are two provisions relating to Baby Boomers, retirees and high school students:

  • Establish Encore Fellowships for Americans age 55 or older in one-year management or leadership positions in nonprofit organizations. There will be a maximum of 10 per state. They will be funded by an $11,000 federal grant, plus matching funds from the organizations that host the fellows.
  • Create Silver Scholarships that would provide a $1,000 higher education scholarship to people 55 or older who contribute a minimum of 350 volunteer hours a year. Like the education awards, volunteers can use the scholarship for their own education or transfer it to their children, foster children or grandchildren.
  • Establish the Summer of Service program that engages middle and high school students in volunteer activities in their communities and allows them to earn a $500 education award to be used for college costs. Students will be eligible to participate in two terms of service and earn up to a total of $1,000.

Kansas Trail News, 13 April 2009

Wichita's Midtown Bike Path Dedicated

The Midtown Bike Path in Wichita was dedicated on April 8 in Otis Park, 13th and Market. Below are excerpts from a City of Wichita news release:

Built on abandoned Missouri-Pacific railroad right-of-way, the 10-foot wide path stretches 1.5 miles from Wichita Street and Central Avenue to 15th Street at Broadway. Features include:

  • Victorian-style pedestrian lighting
  • Brick columns and steel archways spelling out Midtown at 15th & Broadway and at 8th & Wichita Street
  • A plaza at Otis Park in the form of a railroad turntable
  • Sunken planting beds (rain gardens) at Otis Park and Park Elementary School (9th and Main Street)
  • Benches, drinking fountain, trash receptacles, and bike racks also carry out the turn-of-the-century look of the path

The project got its start in late 2004 as a result of a grant for which the Historic Midtown Citizens Association applied. Nearly 80 percent of the $1.35 Million project was funded by KDOT Transportation Enhancement Funds from that grant.

Studies For Historic Trails Authorized

Below are excerpts from a news release from Travis Boley with the Oregon-California Trail Association:

The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR-146 &ndasg; the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 — by a vote of 285-140 last week, and yesterday it was signed into law by President Obama. The Act includes authorization to study sixty-four additional routes and cutoffs of the Oregon, Mormon Pioneer, California, and Pony Express National Historic Trails, including four segments that begin in Leavenworth and well over a dozen additional trail segments in the greater Kansas City metropolitan areas. The bill was previously approved by a large margin in the Senate.

It is a boon for historic trail preservation in many Midwestern and Western states, including Missouri and Kansas. It is the most significant boost to the National Trails System since Congress established National Historic Trails as a category of the National Trails Act in 1978. Glenn Harrison, president of the Independence, Missouri-based Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA) stated that he'd been “hoping for this for a long time. This bill will enable the National Park Service to conduct feasibility studies for designation of important routes in 14 states from Missouri to the Pacific Coast and will add thousands of miles of additional historic trails to the National Trails System, which will serve to more fully preserve our nation's heritage.”

Added Bill Martin, vice-president of OCTA, “Passage of this legislation will have a long-term benefit for the preservation of the historic trails. It will help assure that thousands of additional miles of emigrant routes are not only identified, but are not lost to history. We are grateful to all Americans who reached out to their elected officials and urged support for the bill.”

The bill includes feasibility studies for additional routes in Missouri and Kansas of the California National Historic Trail, such as the Fort Leavenworth-Blue River Route, the Gum Springs-Fort Leavenworth Route, the Fort Leavenworth-Kansas River Routes, the Atchison/Independence Creek Routes, the Blue Mills-Independence Road, Blue Ridge Cutoff, Westport Road, Westport Landing Road, Westport-Lawrence Road, and the Road to Amazonia (just north of St. Joseph, Missouri).

An 1849 trail to California blazed by Cherokees in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) is also included in the bill. The Cherokee Trail originates in northeast Oklahoma and then traverses southern Kansas along a shared route with the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. The Cherokee Trail turns north near Pueblo, Colorado and follows Colorado's Front Range into southern Wyoming just west of Laramie before turning west. The trail joins the main branch of the California National Historic Trail at Fort Bridger, Wyoming.

The bill would study shared routes of the Oregon and California National Historic Trails, such as the St. Joe Road from St. Joseph, Missouri to near Marysville, Kansas.

The Secretary of the Interior will undertake a study of the approximately 20-mile southern alternative route of the Pony Express National Historic Trail from Wathena, Kansas to Troy, Kansas.

A study of the Fort Leavenworth Road, Ox Bow Route, and alternates in Kansas and Missouri (Oregon and California Trail Routes used by Mormon emigrants) will be conducted for the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trails.


Kansas Trails News, 21 April 2009

Prairie Spirit Trail Ceremony On Nat'l Trails Day.

A ceremony marking the completion of the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail will be held in Iola on National Trails Day (Saturday, 6 June 2009). As details become available, they will be provided here in Kansas Trails News. Another National Trails Day celebration will be held in Merriam starting at 11:00 am. Participants are encouraged to walk or bike the three-mile Merriam Streamway Trail starting from the Farmers' Market located at 5740 Merriam Drive. The recreational path was dedicated last year.

Kansas Supreme Court To Rule On Trails Case.

The Kansas Supreme Court has decided to hear a legal challenge to the Kansas Recreational Trails Act which is actually an anti-recreational trails act. The legal challenge is being brought by Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy which is represented by noted Kansas rails-to-trails attorney Mike Mills, J.D. KRTC contends the Act is unconstitutional in whole or in part. The Act was pushed through the legislature in 1996 by the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Livestock Association who were seeking to stop efforts to establish rail-trails in Kansas. KRTC contends that the National Trails Act pre-empts much of the Kansas Act as the latter places unreasonable roadblocks in the way of creating rail-trails in the Sunflower State. That, of course, is contrary to the intent of Congress.

The Supreme Court apparently thought enough about the issues (described in the docketing statement) that they took the case from the court of appeals. The case is Miami County Board of Commissioners, Appellee v. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc., et al, appellants (Case No. 101,811). The Kansas Farm Bureau is seeking to file an amicus brief in support of Miami County.

Landon Trail Dedication Ceremony.

There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the newest section of the Landon Trail in Topeka on National Trails Day (6 June 2009) at 10:00 a.m. Participants are encouraged to walk or bicycle on the one-half mile section which stretches between 25th and 29th Streets east of Kansas Avenue. The ceremony will be at the USD 501 Service Center. Go on SE 25th to Monroe. Then south on Monroe to SE 27th and then west to the center.

Kansas Sampler In Concordia.

Come join in the fun at the Kansas Sampler this May 2-3 in Concordia. Sunflower Recreational Trails will have a booth at which it will hand out trails maps and otherwise promote trails in the Wheat State. The Sampler is open on Saturday, 2 May from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday 3 May from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. To quote from the official website:

It's a living brochure of Kansas! In 2008, 145 communities provided a sample of what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in Kansas! The 2008 Festival went great in Concordia. Over 6,000 attended.

The SRT Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday 3 May 2009 in the cafeteria of the Cloud County Community College starting at 11:00 a.m. All trails supporters are invited to attend


Kansas Trails News, 4 May 2009

Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy Receives Grant.

Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has received a $10,000 grant from the Tawani Foundation of Chicago to develop the Flint Hills Nature Trail for seven miles between US 75 and Osage City. The foundation also issued a challenge grant of $25,000 and will match dollar for dollar any funds received for the project between 1 June 1 2009 and 30 September 2010. The funds will be primarily used to install crushed limestone on the former railroad bed. The rail-trail is already fully developed for a distance of six miles from US 75 to three miles southeast of Vassar (which is one mile South of Pomona Lake). Also, Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) announced this spring that it would be using federal stimulus funds to replace the existing railroad bridge with a bike-pedestrian bridge to enhance highway traffic and allow trail users to safely cross US 75. Plus, Osage City government is planning to lease and develop one mile (perhaps two miles eventually) within city limits. Completion of the Vassar to Osage City section will enable trail users to travel fourteen miles safely away from traffic, enjoying the mixed forest and prairie landscape.

Konza Prairie : One Of America's Best Day Hikes.

The May 2009 issue of Backpacker in its article “America's Best Day Hikes” states that the trail at the Konza Prairie Preserve near Manhattan is one of America's top 100 day hikes: “Hike through upland prairie of big bluestem, Indiangrass and switchgrass, with views of the distant Flint Hills. Yes, a covered wagon would look right at home-as does the herd of bison that roams here. Info: k-state.edu/konza.” There are three trail loops: (1) Nature Trail (2.5 miles); (2) Kings Creek Loop (4.4 miles); and, (3) Godwin Hill Loop (6.0 miles). [Note: be sure to wear tick repellent during warm weather months as ticks are very plentiful on the preserve.]

Blue River Rail-Trail Update.

Progress continues to be made on the Blue River Rail-Trail, also known as the Homestead Trail, which stretches north from Marysville to the Nebraska state line. Crushed limestone has been installed for two miles. Marshall County Connection plans call for a wooden covered bridge to be built. It is expected this trail section will be open by the fall. Marysville is the crossroads for several trails including the Pony Express National Historic Trail, Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail and Oregon-California National Historic Trail. The Donner Party camped at Alcove Springs on the Oregon-California Trail south of town en route to their infamous rendezvous with history.


Kansas Trails News, 18 May 2009

Twentieth Anniversary Of Landon Trail.

Twenty years ago this month, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued a Certificate of Interim Trail Use to the Rails-to-Trails Coalition of Kansas (now named Sunflower Recreational Trails) for the former Missouri Pacific Railroad corridor (aka Landon Trail). The Landon Nature Trail, which stretches 38 miles between Topeka and Overbrook, was the first long-distance rail-trail to be railbanked in Kansas, if one excludes a shorter line railbanked by Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and never developed. Opposition from adjacent landowners, an excursion railroad group called Pioneer Legacy Foundation, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, and the Union Pacific Railroad was extremely intense. However, a lawsuit filed by RTCK in the US Court of Appeals in Denver got the attention of UP. At that point, the Kansas Secretary of Wildlife and Parks brokered a deal between RTCK, the railroad and Pioneer Legacy Foundation. The trail was named after former Kansas Gov. Alf Landon who would regularly ride his horse along the right-of-way. Twenty years later the multi-purpose trail is almost complete in Shawnee County. It can be said that the initiators of the trail project paved the way for all rail-trails in Kansas. The Landon Trail project demonstrates that persistence is necessary when developing rail-trails in the Sunflower State.

Prairie Spirit Trail Celebration Postponed.

The Grand Opening of the Phase III (Welda-Iola) of the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail has been postponed until the Pottawatomie Creek Bridge project north of Garnett is completed. Depending upon the weather and other factors, it is expected the bridge will be rebuilt by Labor Day. Trail users can still ride or walk the entire distance of the rail-trail including a short detour around the bridge. When details of the Grand Opening become available, they will be posted in future editions of this newsletter.

Trail Link Website Has Maps Of Rail-Trails.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy maintains a website on which you can look up many of the rail-trails in America and even view maps of the trails. Check it out at www.traillink.com.

Lawrence Trail On Track.

The right-of-way acquisition process is continuing for the Burroughs Creek Trail in eastern Lawrence. Last week the City exercised eminent domain for several parcels along the rail corridor because the owners refused to sell for the fair market price. The rail corridor north of 23rd Street was never railbanked under the National Trails Act. The City expects bids to be let within the next few weeks and construction to start as early as July. The trail could be completed this year depending upon the weather, etc. and certainly by spring. The ultimate goal of trails activists is to extend the trail north over the Kaw River to the Riverfront Levee Trail and south from 29th Street through the Baker Wetlands to the Wakarusa River. Then the five-mile trail may be renamed the Two Rivers or River to River Trail.

Mountain Biking In Scotland.

The Guardian (UK) (7 May 2009) reports that mountain biking is becoming very popular in Scotland, especially on scenic islands such as the Isle of Skye. Scotland's open access laws mean everything you see, you can attempt to ride. Only the remote, rugged terrain imposes limits on mountain bikers. This also applies to ramblers, walkers, backpackers and hikers.


Kansas Trails News, 29 May 2009

Stimulus Funds For Lawrence Trail Enhancement Project.

 A $7,000 grant from special federal stimulus funds allocated to the Community Development Block Grant program was recently approved by the Lawrence City Commission for Tenants to Homeowners to create a community green space project at its community land trust housing development at 1601 Bullene Avenue in eastern Lawrence. This project abuts the new Burroughs Creek Trail and will provide trail access to the neighborhood. A city engineer reports that construction on the trail should begin in August and be completed by the end of the year.

The Future Of Railbanking.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is holding a hearing on 8 July in Washington on the “;impact, effectiveness and future of rail banking&rdquo. Interested parties can submit comments in advance online by going to www.stb.dot.gov and clicking on the E-Filing link. Without railbanking there would be virtually no rail-trails in Kansas. That is because antiquated state railroad law provides for the reversion of abandoned rail corridors to adjacent landowners. That said the STB rules could be improved. For example, they could require that railroads railbank out-of-service lines if a trail manager is willing to assume all financial responsibility and makes a reasonable offer for any bridges or land held in fee simple (most of the corridors in Kansas are only rights-of-way or easements). Currently, railroads are not required to railbank lines and can simply let corridors revert to adjacent landowners. That means invaluable transportation corridors are lost forever.

National Trails Day Event At Wyandotte County Lake.

A not-for-profit grassroots organization called the Trail Nerds Association which promotes sustainable off-pavement activities such as trail running, ultra marathons, hiking and fast packing in the Kansas City area and Greater Midwest, is organizing a National Trails Day event at Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kansas. Participants will be performing much-needed trail maintenance on the various trails around the lake and over 50 people are expected. The trail work party will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., 6 June from Shelter 11 (east side of the dam). Lunch will be provided. Below is more information (taken from a news release):

There will be varying levels of work from moderate to mildly strenuous. Activities may include collecting trash, moving brush, rocks, shoveling dirt, hoeing and leveling, etc. All ages are welcome and there should be something for everyone. All tools will be provided. No power tools will be needed. All participants are encouraged to dress appropriately, wearing long pants, leather boots, eye protection, hats, gloves etc. We will be working in undeveloped forested areas so bug repellant is encouraged. It is possible to be exposed to ticks and poison ivy. All participants will be required to sign a participation release of liability waiver.

To register or get additional information, contact Sam Kevern at 816-898-5096, skevern@genesisstructures.com or Jim Megerson 913-226-7077, jim.megerson@larsonbinkley.com

Leawood National Trails Day Walk.

Come walk a scenic recreational trail in Leawood from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on 6 June. The two-mile walk will begin in Tomahawk Creek Park is located at 119th Street between Mission and Tomahawk Creek Parkway and end at I-Lan Park located at 126th Street and Nall Avenue. This event is free to the public. Upon ending, there will be healthy snacks and information from health-focused vendors and city agencies.

Landon Trail Dedication Ceremony Postponed

A dedication ceremony scheduled for National Trails Day (6 June) on the Landon Trail has been postponed until work on the newest trail segment has been completely finished. Topeka Parks & Recreation Director Terry Bertels will provide an update when the opening is rescheduled which will be relayed to you via Kansas Trails News.


Kansas Trail News, 12 June 2009

Kansas Pioneer Nature Trail Designated National Recreation Trail.

The Kansas Pioneer Nature Trail at Council Grove Lake has recently been designated by the National Park Service as a National Recreation Trail. The 1.3-mile trail has two loops and features upland woodlands, tallgrass prairie and remnants of buffalo wallows. LASR.net reports the following about Council Grove Lake:

Council Grove Lake is located in the famous Flint Hills region of Kansas. The lake is one mile northwest of the historic town of Council Grove and within walking distance of the Santa Fe Trail. Located on the Neosho River, the lake is in a very aesthetic setting with the rolling bluestem hills trimmed with hickory, oak, walnut, and elm along the streams. 

“...within walking distance of the Santa Fe Trail...”? According to my map, the Santa Fe Trail is approximately 45 miles north of Council Grove Lake; but it could be within walking distance of the Santa Fe Railroad, which actually crosses a part of the lake. — The Web Geek

Photos Of National Trails Day Celebration.

To view photos of trail users celebrating National Trails Day on the Landon Trail, click on Special Event Photos. There are other photos on Trail Pictures, that show, among others, Kansas' first bicycle roundabout and a waterfall near the whistle stop of Swissvale along the Landon Trail in Osage County. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy manages the waterfall area and may establish picnic grounds. To do this, the Conservancy needs to create a trail group (division) in Osage County (Overbrook). If you know of anyone who might be interested in helping to develop the trail in that area, contact Landon Trail Division Superintendent John Purvis.

Foundation Grant-Making Up 3 Percent In 2008.

The Giving USA Foundation annual survey reveals that grant-making by foundations was up three percent in 2008. However, corporate giving decreased 4.5 percent and individual giving declined 2.7 percent. Environmental and animal welfare groups received 5.5 percent less in 2008. Adjusted for inflation, total giving was down 5.7 percent, the largest drop ever recorded by the foundation.


Kansas Trails News, 29 June 2009

Prairie Travelers Receives $18,000 Grant.

Larry Ross of Wichita-based Prairie Travelers, Inc. reports that the organization has received an $18,000 grant from the Sunflower Foundation to complete the Prairie Sunset Trail. A foundation in Wichita provided the required match. Funds will be used to install a crushed limestone surface on four miles of the trail which stretches west from Wichita to Garden Plain.

Blue River Rail-Trail Contruction Underway.

Steve O'Neal with Marshall County Connections in Marysville reports that the first 2-mile section of crushed limestone is down on the Blue River Rail-Trail and construction will start soon on the trailheads and bridges. One of the bridges in the first section, actually at the one mile point, will be a covered bridge. Trail builders were excited to hear about the funding for the bridge with their thoughts being that the bridge would be both very ascetic and practical for safety of trail in users account of its location at the midway point.

Wichita To Use Energy Efficiency Funds For Trail Project.

The City of Wichita has allocated $1.5 million of the $3.5 million federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant it received (funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to develop the McAdams Bike Pathway by connecting the existing I-135 path at 17th Streeet to 21st Street. The trail project will provide a much-needed connecting link between the I-135 Bikeway and the K-96 Bikeway. If the distance is one-half of a mile, it is costing $3 million per mile to build which is significantly higher than most multipurpose pathway projects.

National Rail Trail Network Signs Up On Prairie Spirit.

Signs designating the Prairie Spirit Trail as being a part of the National Rail Trail Network are now up. Susan Wettstein reports that the trail is in excellent condition from Ottawa to Iola except for the Pottawatomie Creek Bridge being rebuilt north of Garnett and people are encouraged to walk or bicycle the 51-mile trail this summer.

Santa Fe Trail Days In Overbrook.

The town of Overbrook (located south of Topeka) will be celebrating Santa Fe Trail Days October 2-3. Overbrook was a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. The Landon Nature Trail, now under development in Osage County, intersects the Santa Fe National Historic Trail north of Overbrook and on the southeast. There will be crafts, demos, food, dancing and a “Showdeo” at the event. For more information go to exploreosage.com.

Public Officials Should Hike A Trail Instead.

The office of the governor of South Carolina recently said the governor was out of pocket because he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He was actually in South America with his girlfriend instead of his wife. The lesson learned is wise public officials will go on a hike on a trail instead of straying.

Burroughs Creek Trail Land Acquisition Nearing Completion.

The Lawrence City Commission recently authorized city staff to execute purchase agreements with various landowners for the Burroughs Creek Trail Project for a total of $223,000. For some inexplicable reason, the former Santa Fe Railway corridor was never railbanked under the National Trails Act. Construction on the project is slated to begin in August and be completed by the end of the year. The total projected cost of the 1.6-mile 10' wide concrete path project is $846,000 or $513,000 per mile.


Kansas Trails News, 4 August 2009

Sunflower Recreational Trails Meeting 12 September 2009.

The next meeting of Sunflower Recreational Trails will be held on Saturday 12 September in Marysville. SRT Board member Steve O’Neal and his wife, Carole, will be hosting a BBQ at their home from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for all SRT members and other trail advocates. In case of inclimate weather, the meeting will be held at the Wagon Wheel restaurant. After the meeting, a field trip will be held on a newly-completed section of the Blue River Rail-Trail. Three national historic trails pass through Marysville: Pony Express, Oregon-California and Mormon trails.

The O’Neal residence is located at 1174 11th Terrace. Directions are as follows: Go to 1124 Pony Express Highway and then head north on a private drive until you run out of road. Or go to Penny’s Diner & Oak Tree Inn on the south side of of US 36 (Pony Express Highway) and turn north at this intersection.

Blue River Rail-Trail Update.

Steve O’Neal with Marshall County Connections reports the following:

On Saturday August 1, a consortium of Nebraskans from a host of trail groups and numerous individuals from the Marysville area constructed railings on two short bridges on the Blue River Rail-Trail. Lynn Lightner from the Nebraska Trails Foundation was the supervisor and planned the effort which went very smoothly. Marshall County Connections still has the long bridge to complete with the plans to first rail it, this in the next couple of weeks and then later (October) complete the roof structure for the bridge with the help of a couple of local contractors who volunteered their services. There was a small article in the local paper last week of the railing event and it included a photo during the work. Steve has received numerous calls and contacts since then expressing their desire to become involved. It is hoped the two-mile trail segment will be completed by mid-September.

Build A Trail, Stay For Free.

Sage Hospitality is giving a free night’s lodging (availability limited) at its chain of hotels for those volunteering eight hours for a registered 501(c)(3) organization such as a trails organization. Volunteers must receive a letter from the organization documenting the volunteer work. Hotels include the Sheraton Kansas City, Holiday Inn Omaha, Courtyard by Marriott Denver, and Hilton Garden in Chicago. For details:
http://www.sagehospitality.com/specials/index.htm

German Public TV Filming Santa Fe Trail.

The following article appeared in the Lawrence Journal-World (7-24-09):

German crew filming show on Santa Fe Trail
Topeka: A crew from Germany’s largest public television station is in Kansas filming a documentary about the Santa Fe Trail.
The team from ARD Network will be in the state through Sunday while following the historic trail from Missouri to New Mexico.
The Kansas Department of Commerce says the crew is interviewing people who live near the trail. The filmmakers are also talking with descendants of the pioneers and American Indians who lived along the trail when it was first used.
ARD Network plans to show the documentary this winter in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, and later throughout Europe. Interest in the Santa Fe Trail is high in Europe and Japan and this show will increase awareness. Both the Flint Hills Nature Trail and the Sunflower Santa Fe Trail now being developed follow the general route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. Once they are developed, visitors will be able to basically ride or walk the Santa Trail!

America Has Over 1,500 Rail-Trails Totaling 15,000 Miles.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy reports that there are now over 1,534 rail-trails totaling over 15,300 miles in America. Sunflower Recreational Trails reports that by year’s end Kansas will have at least 30 rail-trails totaling 132 miles of developed trail. This includes 51.9 miles for the Prairie Spirit Trail, 34.5 miles for the Flint Hills Nature Trail, 15 miles for the Landon Nature Trail, 8 miles for the Prairie Sunset Trail, 4 miles for the El Dorado Bike Trail and 3 miles for the Burroughs Creek/Haskell Trail.

More Trails Planned For Kansas City Metro Area

Below is an excerpt from a Kansas City Star editorial (7-28-09): A recently updated parks system master plan includes good ways to do just that with an extended sales tax: Build more miles of trails and better connect them. This is a key to developing a larger and more popular system, much like the one in Johnson County, for growing numbers of bicyclists, runners and walkers. Platte County expects to add more than 12 miles to the Southern Platte County loop, and build 10 more miles of trails to connect the already popular Platte River greenways to the Prairie Creek greenway. The Weston Bluffs Trail, with its enjoyable views, would be extended by 4.5 miles.


Kansas Trail News, 21 August 2009

Osawatomie To Ottawa Trail Section Nearing Completion.

Doug Walker, superintendent of the Osawatomie Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy reports the following: The bridge on the Flint Hills Nature Trail which had the railings burned by vandals last October was vandalized again last week with railing posts bent, railings broken and bent. Two more miles of screenings were laid two weeks ago and volunteers installed floor planking on the long bridge. Trucks can now cross this bridge to lay screenings the other three miles to Ottawa. When the weather clears the division hopes to start hauling screenings again. It is expected the trail section will be completed this fall.

Mighty Wakarusa River Bridge Rebuilt.

John Purvis, superintendent of the Landon Trail Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy reports that the 240-foot-long Wakarusa River Bridge in scenic Clinton Wildlife Area was rebuilt in early August by volunteers. This is the longest bridge on the 38-mile Landon Nature Trail which stretches between Topeka and Pomona. The wooden deck ties were greatly decayed with many missing, so the wood was replaced or reinforced. The railroad trestle bridge was covered with six inches of concrete which was reinforced with both highway mesh and steel rods. Only one bridge (Croco Bridge) in Shawnee County remains to be decked and railed. The remaining four miles in Shawnee County have had development completed to the point of being ready to open. Center steel bollards are installed, cross boards and wooden bollards with sign backs installed and all bridges are decked with concrete. All that remains to open the 95% of the trail remaining Shawnee County is bridge railings. Numerous steel culverts have been installed or replaced and a forest of fallen and obstructing trees trimmed or removed. Plans call for the trail in Shawnee County to be completed this fall.

Topeka's “$5 to Override” Initiative

The following was excerpted from the Topeka Capital-Journal:

Bunten's bikeway veto stands, by Tim Hrenchir, updated 16 August 2009.
Mayor Bill Bunten's veto of a $15,000 expenditure to develop a bikeway master plan for Topeka became official this past week after the 30-day period in which the city council could have overridden it expired.
Meanwhile, a grassroots "$5 to Override" campaign continues to try to cover those costs through public donations.
"We have about $1,100, and that is with no formal fundraising," Nancy Johnson, who is involved with the effort, said Friday.
Bunten on 10 July vetoed a proposal the city council had approved in a 5-3 vote three days earlier that would have spent $15,000 to help cover costs to hire a planning consultant to develop a bikeway master plan for the city. The expense would have amounted to a 20 percent local match for the $75,000 project, with federal funds covering the other $60,000.
In issuing the veto, Bunten said he supported the development of a bikeway master plan but thought city staff members should carry out the task.
The Complete Streets initiative of the Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods coalition subsequently announced it was kicking off "$5 to Override," the campaign to generate $15,000 to give the city to cover costs to hire the consultant. The campaign asks that 3,000 residents to contribute $5 each. Donations may be made at WIBW-TV or at any Capitol Federal Savings locations.

Bike Park in Pittsburg Opens.

The following was excerpted from the Kansas Cyclist website: The 23rd Street Bike Park in Pittsburg, Kansas offers several miles of single track mountain biking trails, a mountain biking skills area, a pump track, and dirt jump area. It's one of the premier mountain biking destinations in the state.
The trails are located on the site of an abandoned coal mine, so the terrain is rough and rolling, with lots of jumps, tight turns, and small hills. The site was formerly the home of a loose collection of trails, known locally as “The Dumps”. In 2009, a local group, which became the Kansas Overkill Racing Club, received approval from the city of Pittsburg to turn the site into a city park. With donated equipment and materials, and many hours of volunteer labor, the group built and now maintains the park and trails.
To get to the trails, go east from North Broadway on 23rd Street, past Michigan Avenue. The trails are located on the north side of 23rd, just before the railroad tracks. For photos see: http://www.23rdstreetbikepark.com/

Burroughs Creek Trail Update.

Lawrence Park Superintendent Mark Hecker reports that it will open bids for construction of the Burroughs Creek Trail on 1 September and award the contract on 15 September. The notice to proceed with construction is 16 September and the construction deadline is 31 December 2009. James Grauerholtz, the principal advocate for the trail, believes the trail will actually be completed by Thanksgiving. He is now working on securing support for a “People's Bridge” which would span the Kaw River and link the trail with the Kansas River Levee Trail. The ultimate goal is to create a river-to-river trail stretching from the Kansas River to the Wakarusa River and renaming it the Two Rivers Trail.

The National Parks: America's Best Idea.

The following was taken from the PBS website:

The National Parks: America's Best Idea is a six-episode series directed by Ken Burns and written and co-produced by Dayton Duncan. Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature's most spectacular locales - from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska — The National Parks: America's Best Idea is nonetheless a story of people: people from every conceivable background - rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy. It is a story full of struggle and conflict, high ideals and crass opportunism, stirring adventure and enduring inspiration — set against the most breathtaking backdrops imaginable.


Kansas Trail News, 18 September 2009

Private Horse Trail System In The Flint Hills Proposed.

A public meeting will be held on 7 October in Cottonwood Falls to discuss the possibility of creating a network of equestrian trails on private ranchlands in the Flint Hills. Kansas State University Professor Tom Warner believes a private horse trail system would provide increased opportunities for people to experience the Flint Hills and it would also be good for ranchers. The riders would be supervised by the ranchers. The meeting is sponsored by Flint Hills landowners, Kansas Horse Council, Ranchland Trust of Kansas (KLA), Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Kansas Division of Tourism, and the K-State Research and Extension. Registration is required by September 30. Contact Prof. Warner at twarner@ksu.edu or 785-539-7565 to register.

WAM-SAG-MAN Trail Moves Forward

Diane Novak, WAM-SAG-MAN Trail Chairperson for trail between Wamego and Manhattan, reports that the Union Pacific Railroad has agreed to sell a 30-foot strip for the trail project. She hopes to have the agreement in hand yet this month. This will make part of the trail a rails-with-trails project. The Whistle Stop Trail in Elkhart is the other known rails-with-trails project in the Sunflower State. Novak's group is meeting with the Pottawatomie County Commission soon to see if the group's lawyer can assist with the quiet title action. www.wam-sag-man.org

Burroughs Creek Trail Update

The Lawrence Journal-World (9 September 2009) reports that the eastern Lawrence Burroughs Creek Trail project winning bid came in about $300,000 less than engineers had estimated because of the slowdown in construction activity. Lawrence-based R. D. Johnson Excavating was awarded the contract for $591,632. This will allow the City to either extend the concrete paving from 23rd Street to 29th Street utilizing the Haskell Rail-Trail or build feeder trails from parks and neighborhoods. Construction on the rail-trail is slated to begin by the first week of October and be completed in January.

Vote To Make Prairie Spirit Trail One Of 8 Wonders Of Kansas Customs

The Prairie Spirit Trail is one of the twenty-four finalists in the Eight Wonders of Kansas Customs. Trail enthusiasts are encouraged to vote for the PST so that it may become one of the 8 Wonders. Vote online at www.8wonders.org.

Prairie Spirit Trail Extension On Track

Development of the Prairie Spirit Trail Extension is moving forward according to the Iola Register (10 September 2009). The City of Iola is using eminent domain to acquire a tract of land currently used for the storing of vehicles and will convert it into parkland along the trail. The trail extension will stretch from Madison Avene (US 54) to Riverside Park. This is one of the few cases nationally where eminent domain has been used along a rail-trail. The City has railbanked 1.5 miles of the rail corridor under the National Trails Act. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks operates the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail which ends at US 54 in the city


Kansas Trails News, 1 October 2009

Prairie Sunset Trail Grand Opening Set.

The following news release was provided by Prairie Travelers, Inc. of Wichita:

The entire eight-mile length of the Prairie Sunset Trail is now open to the public for non-motorized use. The Prairie Sunset Trail is located one-half mile south of US 54 beginning at 167th Street West and continuing through Goddard to 295th St West at Garden Plain. This linear parkway is ideal for walking, jogging, bicycling and family outings. The trail features native trees, wildlife, creeks and a soon to be completed covered bridge and tunnel.

Please join us for the Grand Opening ribbon cutting ceremony to be held prior to the Goddard Fall Festival parade at 10:00 am on Saturday, Oct 3rd, 2009, at the intersection of the Prairie Sunset Trail and Walnut Street in Goddard.

The Prairie Sunset Trail is a project of Prairie Travelers, Inc., a non-profit Kansas recreational trail organization. Creation of the trail was made possible through membership dues and individual charitable donations as well as grants from the Kansas Health Foundation, the Kansas Sunflower Foundation and the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Thomas-Hunter Walking Trails In Lawrence Open.

The Thomas-Hunter Walking Trails were established this past spring in Northwest Lawrence. The City of Lawrence website states the following:

Through a partnership with the Kansas Land Trust and city staff efforts, the City of Lawrence acquired nearly 100 acres of park area, which provides the citizens of Lawrence with a nature preserve. This was the first time the City of Lawrence collaborated with a conservation organization (Kansas Land Trust) to create a natural preserve prohibiting any future development on the property. 

This site of a natural park, promotes the health of the Baldwin Creek watershed by restricting all development on the property except for unpaved trails. With the unique trail park planned, this area promises to be a wonderful place to nature walk. The land features steep contours, limestone out-cropping, and a wide variety of trees that includes oak, hickory, red bud and others. Abundant species of native grasses and plants grow in the woods and savannah. In addition, a large number of animals and bird species rely on the woodland for habitat.

A parking area is available at the trailhead. The hard-packed earth nature trails appear to be about one-half mile in length and are located on North Folks Road (go north from 6th Street on Folks Road until just before it ends).

New Prairie Spirit Trail Brochure Available.

With completion of the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail, the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks has prepared a new brochure for the public and trail users. See http://www.kdwp.state.ks.us/news/Other-Services/Publications/Trails.

Go Play Kansas Website.

GoPlayKansas website reports:

“GoPlayKansas is a not-for-profit group designed to help Kansans discover opportunities to enjoy outdoor spaces and connect to others in the community. GoPlayKansas is an effort of the Visioneering Wichita Recreation Alliance.

“Welcome to the goPLAYkansas blog, the first step toward a new website that will help you search, find and interact with parks and trails throughout Kansas. We invite you to Register Now to follow this exciting venture and share your enthusiasm for outdoor fun and recreation. For more information go to www.goplaykansas.com.”

Lighted Pedestrian Path To Link Kansas University And Downtown Lawrence.

Below are excerpts from an article in the Lawrence Journal-World (1 October 2009):

Plans are in the works to build a lighted pedestrian pathway between the Kansas University campus and downtown Lawrence, a city official said Wednesday.

City leaders met with student groups at KU Wednesday to discuss options for improving lighting in the Oread Neighborhood, where more than a dozen late-night robberies and attacks have occurred this year.

Mark Thiel, assistant public works director for the city, said his department would draw up plans and prepare a preliminary cost analysis for restoring sidewalks in the neighborhood and providing better lighting for students walking to and from downtown. Concepts being discussed include installation of 3-foot-tall pedestrian lights along the edge of sidewalks or adding decorative lighting similar to what is on Massachusetts Street in the downtown area.

In the meantime, Thiel said students would be consulted to determine what paths are most popular for students. “It wouldn't make a lot of sense to make a nice path if students aren't going to go that way,” Thiel said.

The effort to add lighting and improve safety in the area is being led by Elise Higgins, a KU senior from Topeka, who serves as the Student Senate community affairs director.

Thiel said funding for the project had not been secured.

The brainstorming group, which also includes representatives of the Oread Neighborhood Association and the new Oread hotel development, will meet again in November.

Burroughs Creek Trail Construction Starts.

Concrete is being poured for the Burroughs Creek Trail in eastern Lawrence and a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the trail will be held on Tuesday October 6 at 11:30 a.m. at 15th & Maryland. Construction on the 2.5-mile rail-trail is slated to be completed in January.


Kansas Trails News, 10 November 2009

Baldwin Voters Pass Sales Tax For Trails.

The voters of Baldwin City passed a new 0.25 percent sales tax to fund “quality of life” projects, such as hiking and biking trails. The proposition passed 290-243, or about 55 percent to 45 percent (Source: Lawrence Journal-World, 4 November 2009).

Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy Annual Meeting.

The Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its annual meeting on Saturday, 21 November in the village of Berryton (located southeast of Topeka). A reception will begin at 11:00 a.m. in Creekside at Berryton followed by a catered lunch and a short business meeting. Cost for lunch is $10.00 and all trail advocates are invited to attend. A field trip on the adjacent Landon Nature Trail will be held following the meeting.

Wagon Ride On Flint Hills Trail A Success.

Doug Walker, superintendent of the Osawatomie Division of the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that a Horse and Buggy club spent Sunday 1 November riding the Flint Hills Nature Trail. There were over 14 buggies and riders starting in Rantoul and going both directions. Trail users enjoyed watching the lines of horses and buggies on the trail. Riders came from Alma, Topeka, Lawrence, Spring Hill, Wellsville and various locations in Miami and Johnson County. In addition to the horses there were several hikers and bicyclists on the trail that day.

Sunflower Santa Fe Trail Work Progresses.

The Central Kansas Conservancy provided the following news release: “Central Kansas Conservancy held a work day on the Sunflower-Santa Fe Trail east of Canton on Sunday October 25. Volunteers from Marion, Canton, McPherson and Lindsborg helped clear trees and brush and a minor amount of trash in preparation for mowing allowing the walking and mountain bike use on the trail on both sides of Canton. This area of Kansas has the convergence of the old Santa Fe wagon train trail, Chisholm cattle drive trail, the Marion and McPherson Railroad which turned into the Santa Fe Railroad and the new Sunflower Santa Fe hiking biking trail and the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway. History and beauty coming together.”

The trail follows the general route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area Initiative.

The following is excerpted from a news release from the Kansas Wildlife Federation.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service proposes to purchase up to 1 million acres of voluntary conservation easements within an area of about 1.9 million acres of intact native Tallgrass Prairie in the Kansas Flint Hills. 
It's important to understand that implementation of the voluntary easement program depends on input received from three public meetings as well as input from an Environmental Assessment. The Initiative must also be approved by the Secretary of the Interior. 
The stated purpose of the proposed Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area Initiative is to help maintain the integrity of Tallgrass Prairie wildlife habitat in the Flint Hills. The fact sheet goes on to say that Tallgrass Prairie is rapidly being lost to residential and commercial development, and that such development fragments important wildlife habitat. In addition to conserving wildlife habitat, U.S. Fish & Wildlife recognizes the importance of protecting and fostering traditional cultural values and ranching economies. 
The US Fish & Wildlife Service will hold three public meetings to solicit comments on the proposed creation of the Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area Initiative. 
The US Fish & Wildlife Service will answer questions and receive Comments From The Public about their proposed Flint Hills Legacy Conservancy Area Initiative at the following meetings: 
Alma: Monday, 30 November, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. Alma Community Center 244 E 11th St.
Wichita: Tuesday, 1 December, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. Great Plains Nature Center 6236 E 29th St N.
Cottonwood Falls: Wednesday, 2 December, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. Cottonwood Falls Community Building 220 Broadway 
The Fish & Wildlife Service will consider all public comments in the development of an environmental assessment (EA) for establishing the Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area Initiative. One may also submit public comments to: amy_thornburg@fws.gov

Editor's commentary: To make the best program it is necessary to ensure that the taxpayer receives something for the monies given to landowners. Although most Flint Hills ranchers are good stewards of the land, not a few ranchers mismanage these lands. Biologists confirm that many ranchers:

  1. Overgraze the land resulting in substantial reduction in plant biodiversity.
  2. Allow cattle to trample and ruin riparian habitat along streams and springs plus pollute the surface waters.
  3. Burn native prairie annually which is more frequent than the recommended 3-5 years (which maximizes biodiversity).
  4. Fail to remove woody plants and trees from native prairie.

The amount landowners receive for conservation easements is a substantial fraction of the fee simple value of the land. Therefore, taxpayers should get something in exchange. Easements and management plans should take into account all of the above.

Screening Trail Eyesores.

Trail users generally like walking or biking through a natural setting. However, many trails pass by industrial or other eyesores. One way to remedy this is to screen the eyesores with hedges. American Holy, an evergreen, is excellent source for hedges. American holy is a hardy plant, native to southeast Kansas and grows well throughout the state. If planted 4-5 feet apart, it can be turned into a 12-14-foot-high hedge which blocks sight and sound and serves as excellent habitat for birds.


Kansas Trails News, 1 December 2009

Pottawatomie Creek Bridge On Prairie Spirit Trail Opens.

Trent McCown, Prairie Spirit trail manager, reports that the Pottawatomie Creek Bridge on the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail north of Garnett has been rebuilt and that trail segment is now open to the public. Signs will be posted at self-pay stations to inform visitors that the trail is now open between Garnett and Richmond.

Railroad Car Bridge Proposed.

Owen Harbison, Maries Des Cygnes Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, is proposing to use either a railroad flatcar or boxcar for a bridge on the Flint Hills Nature Trail. The railroad car would replace a burned bridge near the town of Pomona. A boxcar would serve as a unique covered bridge, possibly the first one in the nation on a rail-trail. Since a trail supporter is willing to donate a railroad flatcar for the project, this is the likely candidate.

Covered Bridge On Big Blue Rail-Trail Opens.

Steve O'Neal with Marshall County Connections, reports that the red roof covered bridge on the 12-mile Big Blue Rail-Trail Marysville has recently been completed and the first two miles of the trail have opened. Once completed to the Nebraska state line, the rail-trail will connect with the Homestead Trail. This long-distance trail, which is nearing completion, will extend to Lincoln and another trail will extend to Omaha.

Fort Riley Battalion To Hike Flint Hills Trail.

Planning is underway for the 800 soldiers in Ft. Riley's First Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment to hike the 117-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail from Osawatomie to Herington. The battalion has just returned from Bagdad and is now on r and r. Training exercises will begin soon and these often involve long-distance hikes. The hike on the FHNT will be over five days in late April. Herington is the partner community for the battalion.

Sunflower Recreational Trails Fundraising Campaign.

Sunflower Recreational Trails has launched a fundraising campaign to fund its efforts to create a network of rail-trails in the Sunflower State. Unless out-of-service rail corridors are conserved and developed, they are lost forever. Please consider giving a generous donation to SRT during this holiday season. Future generations will be thank you for your foresight.


Kansas Trails News, 29 December 2009

Saint Joseph To Wathena Rail-Trail Underway.

Efforts are underway to build a rail-trail from St. Joseph, Missouri five miles west to Wathena, Kansas. The trail would go over the Missouri River, through Elwood, over Browning Lake (an oxbow lake), and on to Wathena. Reportedly, the former Union Pacific line has been fully abandoned, the bridges removed and the land has reverted to adjacent landowners. The original Elwood and Marysville Railroad (1859) was the first railroad built in Kansas. Since the land has reverted to adjacents, the corridor is being acquired from them and the bridges re-built. A possible name of the trail is the Pony Express Trail as it follows the general route of that famous historic trail.

Kanza Receives Grant.

Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has received a $16,000 grant from the Lattner Family Foundation. Pending upon a final decision by the Board of Directors, these funds are likely to be used to match challenge grants for the Flint Hills Nature Trail and/or Landon Nature Trail. KRTC President John Purvis says, “We appreciate the Lattner Foundation’s continued support for our trail development. It shows that they have confidence in our ability to build rail-trails.”

Conservation Easements For Trails.

Experts say that conservation easements can be used to provide for recreational trails. A former landscape architect from the City of Olathe states: “The City of Olathe has one conservation easement which was written to allow a number of recreational uses, including a trail, within the easement as long as it did not damage the overall natural character of the area the easement is intended to protect. It's all in how the easement is written. It also allows historical and interpretative signs, markers and even allowed a sanitary sewer to be built through the corridor, but it set the precedent to assure environmental impacts were of the highest priority through the conservation easement.” An official from the Kansas Land Trust also confirms this.

Trail Gap Closed On Flint Hills Nature Trail.

Doug Walker, Superintendent of the Osawatomie Division of the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that an 0.6 mile gap in the Flint Hills Nature Trail southeast of Rantoul (east of Ottawa) has finally been closed. In early December crushed limestone was installed by the Osawatomie Division on the half-mile section. This means that trail users can now travel unimpeded all the way from Osawatomie to three miles east of Ottawa.

Lawrence Residents Support More Trails.

A survey conducted in October and November by the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department has found that the development of new recreational trails has broad support. Questionnaires were distributed at three public meetings and via online from the City’s website. A new recreation center received the highest votes at 248 top votes. The following recreational trails also received a high number of votes:

Baldwin CreekTrail (from K-10 to Kasold Ave.) 
North-South Trail (linking Clinton Pkwy Bob Billings Pkwy with 6th St.)
Southeast Trail (from the Naismith Path to the trails at Lawrence Prairie Park/Mary’s Lake)

Making Trails Interesting.

Although Kansas landscapes have a subtle beauty, some residents and visitors need to be encouraged to explore the state’s trails. That’s why trail builders in the Sunflower State are developing attractions alongside trails. Ideas for making recreational trails exciting and adventurous include:

  1. placing old farming implements (pre WW II) along trails;
  2. building tunnels in railroad cuts;
  3. constructing unusual bridges such as covered bridges or using rail flatcars or boxcars for bridges;
  4. restoring old train depots to serve as trailheads or visitor centers;
  5. placing old cabooses (way cars) at trailheads to serve as visitor centers or restrooms;
  6. installing signs pointing out historical and natural features (such as large or old trees, caves, springs, waterfalls, Indian raids, historic trail crossings, etc.);
  7. placing covered wagons along trails;
  8. planting native shade trees or fruit trees or native prairie wild flowers or edible wild plant gardens;
  9. establishing attractive picnic or camping areas or scenic overlooks;
  10. placing sculptures or statues of Kansas explorers or Wild West figures along trails.
 

 


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