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Back Issues - Kansas Trails News - 2011

 

Click this link for: Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy’s Fall 2011 newsletter

 

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

DERBY’S OUTSTANDING TRAIL NETWORK. Family Circle magazine named Derby in 2007 as one of the Top 10 places to rear a family. With almost 20 miles of hike and bike paths that connect parks, schools, a recreation center, eating establishments and shopping, Derby is a fun place for recreation. www.BeHealthyDerby.com.

LANDON TRAIL UPDATE. John Purvis, Landon Trail Superintendent, reports the current status of the Landon Trail project: Beginning at 15th & Monroe or in front of the Brown V. Board of Education National Historic Site to SE 45th Street is open with concrete path. (4.5 MILES) SE 45th to 51St street is under construction. Latest information has the City finishing this short stretch by the spring. (.5 MILES) 51st Street to SE. 77th& Croco - Open with screenings. (5 MILES) Croco to 89th Street open with bladed surface. (3 MILES) 89th to Boundary of Clinton Lake Wildlife Area. Ready to open December 2011 with bladed surface. (1 MILE). West boundary of Clinton Lake Wildlife Area to Osage County Line, including across the Clinton Lake Wildlife Area only needs 3 bridges with handrailings installed. (bridge decks are all concreted). Open to Osage County Line this spring 2012. Approximately 16+ miles. Total

OTTAWA OPENS NEW RECREATION CENTER. ”Ottawa Recreation Commission held a grand opening Sept. 24 for its new 25,000 square-foot center. The $2.75 million facility—called the Goppert building—includes a gym with retractable basketball goals, a volleyball system, a multi-purpose room with kitchen, a three-lane elevated walking/jogging track, cardio workout area, open mezzanine space for social or group activities along a lobby and administrative offices. The building was constructed on five acres that were donated by USD 290 and is within walking distance of the high school and middle school. Ottawa Recreation Commission, USD 290 and others, including the Sunflower Foundation, partnered to also build a trail that connects the schools with the recreation center. The facility is the first free community recreation center open to the public in Ottawa and use will be shared with USD 290 and Ottawa University.”

Source: KRPA TODAY, Fall 2011

FLINT HILLS DISCOVERY CENTER NEARING COMPLETION. ”The Flint Hills Discovery Center, a 35,000 square feet facility that celebrates the geology, biology and cultural history of the Flint Hills of Kansas, is scheduled to be opened in April, 2012. The facility, under the direction of the Manhattan Parks and Recreation, will include over 10,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, an “immersive” multi-media experience, classrooms, gardens café and store. The building is located at the arrival gateway to downtown Manhattan and is the centerpiece to downtown growth and redevelopment that includes several new hotels and a conference center.”

“The building is made of local limestone, layered in striated patterns that are reminiscent of the hills themselves. The stone façade is complimented by a glass cylinder lobby tower, with interior balcony that overlooks the second and third floors. Visitors will be greeted with an overview of the Flint Hills story that begins with the formation of the hills from fossilized organisms of an inland sea some 250 million years ago. For additional information visit www.flinthillsdiscovery.org.

Source: KRPA TODAY, Fall 2011

Of course, nearby is the 8,600-acre Konza Prairie with its network of hiking trails where visitors can actually explore the Flint Hills. See: http://keep.konza.ksu.edu/visit/

BUFFALO BILL CENTER UNDER WAY? The status of the Buffalo Bill Visitor/Cultural Center project near Oakley is not known. KDOT approved in 2010 a federal Transportation Enhancements s grant to build the center. That is where William Cody had a contest with another buffalo hunter to claim the moniker “Buffalo Bill”. Cody shot 69 and Bill Comstock shot 46 in one day. Cody killed buffalo for food and not hides. He was paid to obtain buffalo meat for railroad crews and the cavalry.

Perhaps, Abilene should obtain a grant to build a visitor/cultural center for Wild Bill Hickok. He was actually a more important and famous Old West figure than Buffalo Bill.


KANSAS WETLANDS EDUCATION CENTER WOWS VISITORS. “The Kansas Wetlands Education Center recently opened in the Cheyenne Bottoms with a nature trail, family-friendly hands-on exhibits and classroom programs. Admission is free. On-site naturalists can direct you to that day’s birding hot spots. “ Source: “Kansas Official Visitors Guide 2011-2012”

CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART OPENS IN OZARKS. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art just opened in Bentonville, Ark. in the Ozark Mountains. Built by billionaire Alice Walton a trail connects the museum with the town square. Below is taken from the website:

The trails and grounds of Crystal Bridges will be a must-see part of the Museum experience. More than 3.5 miles of trails are planned to wind among the streams, ponds, wetlands, native plants, and sculpture on the Museum's 120-acre site. Designed to spark the imagination, the trails will help guests form connections to the land and its history, as well as learn about art and Arkansas plant life.

For more information see: http://crystalbridges.org/Trails-and-Grounds

TRANS CANADA TRAIL TO OPEN IN 2017. ”Everything about the Trans Canada Trail is huge. At 16,5000 kilometers (9,900 miles), it is already the world’s longest trail. When completed in 2017, the corridor will stretch 22,500 kilometers (13,500 miles), from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and from the United States border to the Arctic Ocean. More than 400 local trails compose the overall pathway, which links more than 1,000 communities. (Many of the trails are rail-trails)…When completed, TCT will be within a half-hour’s drive for 34 million Canadians…Finishing the trail, however, will cost about $40 million because much of the remaining work is through the Rocky Mountains.”   --Rails-to-Trails Magazine, Winter 2011

Clark H. Coan
Public Information Specialist
Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc.
P.O. Box 44-2043
Lawrence, KS 66044
785-842-3458


OCTOBER 10, 2011

KAW RIVER STATE PARK IN TOPEKA.
The Kaw River State Park in Topeka is now one year old. It is the only urban state park and though it is relatively small at 76 acres, it provides a near-wilderness experience. The park is located just west of Cedar Crest, the governor’s mansion. The Kansas Trails Council has built a wonderful trail network for hiking and mt. biking along side a steep oak-hickory forest hillside. A boat ramp allows boaters to access the Kaw River. For more information, check out the brochure: www.kdwp.state.ks.us/news/content/.../KAW%20RIVER%20SP.pdf

“PEDAL POWER TOUR” AT MARQUETTE THIS WEEKEND.

The following is taken from a brochure:

 

The Marquette Chamber of Commerce and Harley’s Bicycles of Hutchinson is sponsoring:
 “The Pedal Power Tour”
in conjunction with “Autumn in the Valley”

Saturday October 15, 2011 at 2:00 PM.

 

Cost: $20 per person day of ride. $15 if pre-registered by October 8th. Family (3 or more) $15 per person.

To pre-register send entry fee to Dennis Swisher PO Box 172, Marquette, Ks. 67464. Make checks payable to the Marquette Chamber of Commerce.
 

Registration day of ride: starts at 1:00 PM in downtown Marquette, Ks.
“The Pedal Power Tour” begins at 2:00 PM     Miles: 10 or 33 miles

The Family ride “Out & Back” is a 10 mile flat ride. The “Full ride” is a 33 mile loop through mostly flat terrain with some rolling hills.


Safety: Helmets are advised but not required. All minors must be accompanied by an adult.

SAG Stops will be provided.

T-shirts: will be made onsite day of the ride.

Contacts: Dennis Swisher 785-546-2757 or email dgswisher@yahoo.com
Steve Piper 785-546-2271 or email piperfoods@ks-usa.net
Marquette City Office email Marquette@KS-usa.net

Clark H. Coan
Public Information Specialist
Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc.
P.O. Box 44-2043
Lawrence, KS 66044
785-842-3458
 


OCTOBER 3, 2011
 

TRAILS FOR GOOD HEALTH. Obesity is soaring among children which is causing a variety of health problems early in life. Trails promote good health because they entice children to exercise for health. Traveling on a trail becomes an adventure for children because they don’t know what they will encounter around the next bend. This gives them a sense of adventure and exploration. Meanwhile, they get plenty of exercise outside in the great outdoors. The new slogan is: “No Child Left Behind”.

 

MOTEL PROVIDES BIKES FOR GUESTS. The Holiday Inn Express in south Lawrence provides bicycles for guests to ride on the adjacent SLT Hike and Bike Path. The path goes west to Clinton Lake where there are mt. biking and hiking trails.

 

KC RALLY CALLS FOR MORE BIKE TRAILS.

 

From the KC Star (9-24-11):

 

Kansas City rally calls for more bike trails and sidewalks

By KAREN DILLON

Promoters of sidewalks, bike lanes and clean air carried their message on foot and bicycle from Union Station to City Hall on Saturday.

At the end of their jaunt, more than 40 people gathered on the steps of City Hall to petition the government to increase the number of bicycle trails and sidewalks as part of the Get Moving Kansas City rally.

They were greeted by four council members — Jan Marcason, Jim Glover, Scott Taylor and Scott Wagner — plus Jackson County Legislator Scott Burnett and a representative of U.S. House member Emanuel Cleaver.

“Kansas City is one of the most sprawled out cities in the country,” grassroots activist John Kurmann told the crowd, and that means more driving time per person and more pollution.

Get Moving Kansas City was part of climate rallies around the globe Saturday, with thousands of people calling for climate change solutions.

In July 2008, the City Council passed a resolution to implement Kansas City’s climate change plan, Kurmann said. That plan included fixing sidewalks and building bike trails. But the plan was mostly shelved after the market crash later that year.

“We need to be proactive now instead of waiting for a major crisis,” Kurmann said. “We need to move beyond fossil fuels.”

The group’s proposal includes:

•Dedicating 1 percent for biking and 2 percent for walking in the transportation infrastructure budget.

•Building at least 25 miles of new bike lanes per year. In addition, the BikeKC Plan should be fully developed, and proposed routes should be published on the Internet for public comment.

•Implementing the city’s “Livable Streets” policy in the next five years in important pedestrian areas such as the River Market, downtown, Westport and the Plaza.

“Our heart is with you,” Marcason said. “It makes triple bottom-line sense.”

The council members agreed that the proposals are worthy and said sidewalks are essential because many people in the inner city, especially on the East Side, don’t have cars.

Taylor said another reason to build new sidewalks and trails is to attract families.

“We are in competition with other communities that do have trails and sidewalks,” Taylor said. “These goals are a way to start the process.”

Editor's note: The MetroGreen Plan to build an interconnected metropolitan trail network was announced with great fanfare 20 years ago. Much has been accomplished but more needs to be done to fulfill the vision.

SUNFLOWER TO HOLD ANNUAL MEETING OCT. 29. Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will hold its Annual Meeting on Saturday, October 29, in beautiful downtown Cottonwood Falls, located in the heart of the scenic Flint Hills. The meeting will begin at 11:00 a.m. in the historic Grand Central Hotel. Participants will order lunch at 12:00 noon. A key topic will be the status of the six railbanking initiatives. The meeting will end at 2:00 p.m., followed by a field trip to the trails at the nearby Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. Come join in the fun!

KANZA TO HOLD ANNUAL MEETING . Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 5 in the Osage County Senior Center in Osage City (604 Market Street). All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. A reception will begin at 11:00 a.m. with a light lunch buffet at 11:30. The meeting will follow the lunch.

FALUN CLASSIC & MARQUETTE MINI BICYCLE RIDES OCT. 9 The Falun Classic and Marquette Mini Bicycle Rides will be held October 9 in Lindsborg. The rides begin at 1:30 pm at Swensson Park in Lindsborg. They will end with a cookout in Swensson Park. The Falun Classic is a fun, 32-mile ride on blacktop. The Marquette Mini is a relaxed, 25-mile ride on blacktop with a sag stop in downtown Marquette. For more information:

cybdir@lindsborgcity.org or Falunclassic@gmail.com

 

Clark H. Coan
Public Information Specialist

Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc.

P.O. Box 44-2043

Lawrence, KS 66044

785-842-3458

 


 

SEPTEMBER 2, 2011:

 

COVERED BRIDGE NEARING COMPLETION. Larry Ross with Prairie Travelers which manages the eight-mile-long Prairie Sunset Trail (www.prairietravelers.org) reports that the Cecile Kellenbarger Memorial Covered Bridge is nearing completion just east of Garden Plain (west of Wichita). The bridge is being constructed to honor Cecile Kellenbarger who died earlier this year, and was instrumental in building the Prairie Sunset Trail. When completed there will be two covered bridges on rail-trails in Kansas. The other covered bridge is north of Marysville on the Blue River Rail Trail.

 

OSAGE CITY TRAIL WORK DAY A SUCCESS. Karen DeOrnellas, Lyco Division Superintendent with the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that “about 35 people turned out as volunteer trail builders on a hot Sunday, July 31, in Osage City to clean up the Flint Hills Trail section in the city. Dump trucks, tractors, trailers, pole saws, chain saws and loppers were operated by a diverse group of folks with a desire to make the trail a usable route to hike, bike and ride. By the end of the day that's exactly what had happened. A couple remaining challenges are the lack of a trail crossing over the active BNSF line and a small open tie bridge needing a solid deck. Both can be bypassed without detouring a great distance. The day also awakened an interest in the trail and it's anticipated that local coordinators will continue the work begun on July 31.”

 

Virgil Scheid, Osage County Superintendent, reports that crushed limestone screenings are now down on the Flint Hills Trail from the new US 75 pedestrian/bike bridge to one mile west of the bridge. So, now there is an eight-mile continuous stretch of completed trail between the trailhead southeast of Vassar (south of Pomona Lake) to one mile west of the bridge.

 

TE PROGRAM MAY END From the Lawrence Journal-World (8-04-11):

 

“One way the city has paid for brick street projects in the past is through a state/federal program called Transportation Enhancement Grants. In addition to brick streets, Lawrence has used the grant to help restore the Union Pacific Depot, build the Burroughs Creek Rail Trail, the Clinton Parkway Shared-Use Path, and other projects. But it looks like that will be the case no more.

 

The state has announced funding concerns, especially at the federal level, means they won’t accept any grant applications for the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years. City Manager David Corliss said he’s not planning for the grant program to return. That may be a blow to the efforts of a group of Lawrence residents to restore the Santa Fe Depot in East Lawrence. A Transportation Enhancement grant was one of the leading candidates to fund the several hundred thousand dollars in repairs needed to the building at Seventh and New Jersey streets.”

 

LANDON TRAIL IN TOPEKA UPDATE. Construction on the Landon Trail within the city limits of Topeka continues to be on schedule. The concrete 10-foot-wide path is now completed to SE 37th St. and Kansas Ave. The City leases 4.6 miles of the 38-mile Landon Nature Trail from Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy. When completed, the Landon Trail in Topeka will stretch between near S.E. 17th and Monroe and S.W. 45th and Topeka Boulevard.

BE A FACEBOOK FRIEND OF THE FLINT HILLS TRAIL. Become a friend of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy on Facebook and get up-to-date information about the Flint Hills Nature Trail and the Landon Nature Trail.

 

FLINT HILLS TRAIL PROGRESS. Scott Allen and Karen DeOrnellas with KRTC report that once limestone screenings are installed on two sections of the Flint Hills Nature Trail totaling about three miles and two bridges are railed, mt. bikers and equestrians will be able to travel nearly 55 miles from Council Grove east to past Vassar (south of Pomona Lake). Funds still has to be found to complete the two sections.

BIKE CLUB AT LAWRENCE SCHOOL. Lawrence’s Prairie Park School now has a bike club to encourage students to exercise for health. No other details are available at this time.

 

KANZA TO HOLD ANNUAL MEETING. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 5 in the Osage County Senior Center in Osage City (604 Market Street). All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. A reception will begin at 11:00 a.m. with a light lunch buffet at 11:30. The meeting will follow the lunch.

WESTERN SKY TRAIL UPDATE. Larry Ross, Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy President, reports that “the recent meeting in Chanute indicated that people are eager to build the Western Sky Trail between Chanute and Fredonia. Local people have volunteered to be Project Manager, Public Information Specialist (spokesperson) and Director of Development (fundraiser).” An Eagle Scout may organize a digital survey of the corridor. The 23-mile out-of-service rail corridor was recently railbanked by the Conservancy.

PRAIRIE SPIRIT TRAIL DESIGNATED “TRAIL OF THE MONTH”. The Prairie Spirit Trail was designated the Trail of the Month for August by the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. According to the website www.railtrails.org, the trail “offers visitors a taste of rural, middle America at its finest—rolling pastures, lazy streams, wooded ravines, friendly townspeople, colorful wildflowers, big farms and an endless sky.” For more information go to:

http://www.railstotrails.org/news/recurringFeatures/trailMonth/archives/1108.html

BLUE RIVER RAIL TRAIL PROGRESS. Steve O’Neal with Marshall County Connections reports that limestone screenings have been laid for an additional three miles of the Blue River Rail Trail. This makes a total of five miles with crushed limestone. “Trail users are already using the new section, says O’Neal. “This is a very scenic trail segment and will be very popular.” When completed, the trail will stretch 13 miles north to the Nebraska state line where it will join with the Homestead Trail now under development to Lincoln.

Clark H. Coan
Public Information Specialist
Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc.
P.O. Box 44-2043
Lawrence, KS 66044
785-842-3458


JULY 26, 2011

SUNFLOWER TO HOLD SUMMER MEETING. The Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will be holding its summer meeting on Saturday, August 6 in downtown Chanute. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend. Chanute recently completed its 1.5-mile Katy Trail (a rail-trail) on the eastern edge of town. Now, plans are underway to build the Western Sky Trail (also a rail-trail) 23 miles between Chanute and Fredonia. A public meeting to discuss this project will be held at 10:00 am at Olpie’s Pizza on Main St. After the meeting, SRTC will hold its meeting at 12:00 noon in the same location. A field trip to the Katy Trail will follow the meeting at 2:30 pm.  

KC BIKE/PED ADVOCACY GROUP FORMS.
Below are excerpts from a mailing from BikeWalkKC:

BikeWalkKC advocates for cyclist and pedestrian-friendly facilities and policies, encouraging cities and communities to fund and build trails, bike lanes and sidewalks. We initiate policy change, like Complete Streets and development code reform and support the development of the MetroGreen system via regional funding options and/or a land trust organization.

BikeWalkKC envisons a Kansas City Region where, in 10 years

  • Bicycling and walking rates exceed the national average.

  • 75% of metro residents live in a Bicycle and Pedestrian-friendly Community and have a Complete Streets Policy.

  • Trails can connect. Kansas City is the natural meeting point for the famous Katy Trail State Park and Kansas’ growing Flint Hills Nature Trail. We will work with local, state, and national leaders to fund and build the trail while preserving space for a future transit system.

  • The regional will have 1,000 miles of new sidewalks and 500 miles of new bike lanes.

  • All local governments enforce strict sidewalk snow removal ordinances.

For more information go to www.BikeWalkKC.org.

CONSERVANCY TO BUILD OSAGE CITY TRAIL. The Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has announced that it will build the two-mile segment of the Flint Hills Nature Trail lying within Osage City.  The newly-elected Osage City Council recently voted to rescind a previous City Council’s decision to build a ten-foot-wide concrete path.

 

Karen DeOrnellas, a Conservancy director, recently said that “grassroots citizen support for the trail is still strong within the community, so we will go ahead and build the trail segment using crushed limestone as the trail surface. We can build the trail for approximately $30,000, so we hope the City will contribute financially since it will enhance the quality of life of the community.”

A volunteer day to work on the trail section starts at 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 31.  Volunteers will meet in a grassy area on the south edge of the trail between 4th and 5th Streets, about a block north of Lakin St. in Osage City. Volunteers are asked to bring loppers, string trimmers, chain saws, etc. if possible.

TRAIL BRIDGE BRINGS BUSINESS BOOM IN IOWA. Below is an excerpt from American Trails (July 2011): “New numbers are in and the new High Trestle Trail is an early success. The $14 million trail and high bridge between Madrid & Woodward officially opened in April. Trail counts show more than 3,000 people are crossing the bridge each week. Businesses said people are leaving a lot of money along the trail.”

Read more: http://www.kcci.com/news/28262466/detail.html#ixzz1T8DdjKN5

 

HYBRID TRAFFIC LIGHT FOR LANDON TRAIL IN TOPEKA

Trail crossing to get hybrid sigN
By THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL, June 19, 2011

Walkers and bicyclists on the Landon Trail in south Topeka will get to use the first hybrid beacon of its kind in the city to help ensure their safety while crossing one of the city's busiest streets.

City traffic engineer Linda Voss said the signal, in the 100 block of S.E. 29th, will become operational by the end of the summer or early fall.

The beacon, which resembles a small traffic signal, was installed recently. Its lights are covered until it becomes functional.

Similar hybrid beacons are in use in other cities across the nation where large numbers of pedestrians or bicyclists use trails to cross busy streets.

The nearest such beacon to Topeka is found in Lawrence, Voss said.

The signal was necessitated because of the anticipated completion this summer of a new $1.1 million concrete portion of the Landon Trail. Funds for the trail work came from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

When completed, the Landon Trail in Topeka will stretch on ground that once carried the old Missouri Pacific railroad tracks between areas near S.E. 17th and Monroe and S.W. 45th and Topeka Boulevard.

South of S.E. 17th Street, the Landon Trail connects with the Shunga  Trail, another concrete path in the city.

Most of the Shunga Trail parallels the Shunganunga Creek. The Shunga Trail goes under major streets, beneath bridges that span the Shunganunga Creek.

City officials said the Landon Trail either had to be rerouted to 29th and S. Kansas Avenue, about a block west of the hybrid beacon location,  or have a controlled crossing to keep it on its primary path at S.E. 29th Street.

Unlike conventional traffic signals, hybrid beacons are designed only for pedestrians and bicyclists and should reduce the amount of time vehicles need to stop.

Once a pedestrian or bicyclist presses a button on the hybrid beacon pole, a yellow light will flash for three seconds for motorists on S.E. 29th. A solid yellow light then will be on for four seconds. Pedestrians must wait during this time.

When the yellow light changes to red, pedestrians and bicyclists can cross S.E. 29th. The solid red light remains on for seven seconds.

The red light then will flash off and on for 14 seconds. When the red light flashes, motorists can proceed on S.E. 29th across the path provided it is safe to do so.

Voss said this is a change from signals that rotate through the green, yellow and red cycle, as it should cut down the wait time for motorists.

In some cases, Voss said, a pedestrian at a conventional traffic signal might be "100 to 200 feet" up the block before the light changes back to green for motorists.

In this way, Voss said, the hybrid beacon "is beneficial to both pedestrians and vehicles."

"Once a pedestrian has cleared the street, and the light is flashing red, you can go," Voss said. "You don't have to wait."

Several factors were in place to prompt the city to install the hybrid beacon in the 100 block of S.E. 29th.

Voss said that portion of S.E. 29th sees about 14,000 vehicles a day -- around 1,200 per hour during rush periods.

The area also is congested with entrances and exits to many businesses along S.E. 29th.

Additionally, S.E. 29th has a railroad bridge and a slight curve just east of where the hybrid beacon is located.

 

As there were few gaps in traffic on S.E. 29th, Voss said, city traffic officials determined the hybrid beacon was a good way to allow for safe passage of those on the trail.

Terry Bertels, director of Parks and Recreation of Topeka, said the current phase of Landon Trail work began this spring. It will connect the concrete portion of the trail from S.E. 25th to S.E. 45th.

The trail then goes east toward Lawrence from S.E. 45th and also has a spur that goes south and west toward Osage City.

Because it is part of the rails to trails initiative, the Landon Trail is built on areas that once carried railroads. As a result, much of the ground is solid, and many of the railroad bridges have been redecked and equipped with new sides.

Clark H. Coan
Public Information Specialist
Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc.
P.O. Box 44-2043
Lawrence, KS 66044
785-842-3458


JUNE 6, 2011

INVESTING IN TRAILS BENEFITS KC REGION.

The Star’s editorial | Investing in trails benefits Kansas City region

Walkers, runners and bicyclists this spring are enjoying a newly opened, 2.5-mile stretch of the Little Blue Trace Trail as it winds under Interstate 70 and through neighborhoods in eastern Jackson County. There’s more to come, too, as crews continue the pathway to the south.

Meanwhile, more miles of trails are being built and connected in the Northland, while lengthy paths still attract lots of people in Johnson County.

Overall, the region’s system of trails and greenways has made encouraging progress in recent years, with more than 200 miles now available. Still, that’s nowhere near the ambitious goals set out two decades ago in the MetroGreen plan, which outlines a network stretching 1,100 miles.

On Wednesday, several parks officials will be part of a public discussion about MetroGreen and its future. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Kansas City’s Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. The officials are Mark McHenry, Bill Maasen and Brian Nowotny, directors of the Kansas City, Johnson County and Platte County parks and recreation departments, respectively. Admission is free. Call 816-701-3407 for reservations or more information.

A more extensive trails system would be a tremendous asset for area residents. Parks leaders, neighborhood groups and private-sector contributors must keep working toward that aim. At some point — dare we dream? — a small regional tax may even help complete the MetroGreen plan.

Posted on Thu, May. 26, 2011 10:15 PM

PRAIRIE SPIRIT TRAIL TO BE EXTENDED. Allen County Thrive and the Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, jointly announced this week that the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail will be extended south 6.5 miles from Iola. This addition will follow the regulations of the National Trails Act and will extend along a 6.5-mile out-of-service rail line between Iola and Humboldt.

“We are very excited about extending the Prairie Spirit Trail to Humboldt,” offered David Tolland, Allen County Thrive Executive Director.  “This will not only let people travel safely between the two communities, it will encourage people to exercise for health. It will also allow people to gather for festivals and informal socializing and, thus, build a sense of community.”

 Combined with the 1.5-mile segment the City of Iola is developing within its city limits, the Prairie Spirit Trail will now be expanded by an additional eight miles. Not only will it provide a safe place for bicycling, walking, jogging, and bird watching, it will improve the overall quality of life in the communities by making the region a more attractive place in which to live and work.

 “We are now counting on local groups and individuals to come forward to build this scenic trail segment, said Clark Coan, Public Information Specialist for Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy. “The trail will be similar to the existing Prairie Spirit Trail with its crushed limestone surface. However, we will be able to do it much cheaper using local volunteer labor and donations. We estimate the project will cost $60,000. When it is complete, we hope to turn it over to another entity such as the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.”

“The Conservancy's mission is to work in partnership with communities to transform out-of-service rail corridors into outstanding recreational trails which will provide a place for families, youth and seniors to walk, bicycle or jog safely away from traffic, said Coan.  “We believe that if we are able to get just one child out on a trail that, as a result, develops a love of nature and exercise, we have been successful.”

A series of informational meetings will be held in the two communities this summer and fall.

MAN BUILDS WOODEN BICYCLE. Yes, it’s true. A Brit has built a completely wooden bicycle which can be ridden. See:

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/05/100-wooden-bike-primed-to-set-land-speed-record.php

NEW WICHITA TRAIL CONNECTS EXISTING TRAILS.  A new Wichita Trail which connects the existing K-96 Bike Path and Canal Route Bike Path opened May 20. The McAdams Bike Path was constructed with American Recovery and Reinvestment funds. The interconnected recreational path system now provides 31 continuous miles of walking, jogging and bicycling pathways from Central and K-96 to a trailhead near Cessna and Planeview parks.

TRAIL BETWEEN LARNED AND FT. LARNED IN PLANNING STAGES.  Mary Hanson, Outdoor Recreation Planner with the National Park Service Regional Office in Omaha, reports that efforts are underway to build a trail from Larned west six miles along Pawnee Creek to the Ft. Larned National Historic Site. All of the landowners contacted so far have agreed to permit a trail. Two have yet to be contacted.

SHORT LINE RAILS WITH TRAILS POSSIBILITIES OPEN UP.  John Rosacker, Director of the Bureau of Rail Affairs, reports that WATCO Companies based in Pittsburg, Kansas, is now amenable to Rails WITH Trails projects. Since most of the corridors are 100’ in width, recreational trails can be built within the corridor with rail service continuing.  Rosacker said that the several short lines owned and operated by WATCO have low rail traffic which would reduce potential conflicts with trail users. He also said that he doesn’t foresee any future abandonments in the state except for one.

Larry Ross, President of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, says this development “opens up new possibilities in the state for linking existing rail-trails. It could help us achieve our goal of an interconnected network of rail-trails in the Sunflower State.” The only drawback is the cost. Building a totally new trail surface base and new bridges could be cost-prohibitive.

SLOUGH CREEK POINT TRAIL AT PERRY LAKE.  There is a little-known recreational trail at Perry Lake called the Slough Creek Point Educational Trail. It is located adjacent to Slough Creek on the southeast side of the Perry Lake. The two interconnecting paved paths primarily traverse grassland. One ends up at an overlook above the lake. Each path is about one-half mile long. To reach the trail go north on Ferguson Rd. from the town of Perry for 2.5 miles. Then take Marion Road for 5.5 miles. At 70th St. go west or left and follow the signs.

Clark H. Coan
Public Information Specialist
Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc.
P.O. Box 44-2043
Lawrence, KS 66044
785-842-3458

Copyright © 2011 - Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc. - All rights reserved.

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