A retired tree farmer has made a generous donation to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to help maintain the state’s longest existing rail-to-trail project.
Robert Whelpley of McPherson County recently transferred the title to a small tractor, an ATV, spraying equipment and other gear he once used to maintain his tree nursery. The equipment will be used for maintenance on the Prairie Spirit Trail between Ottawa and Iola.
Whelpley, an 82-year-old avid outdoorsman and advocate for Rails-to-Trails projects, has been working with the Central Kansas Conservancy more than a decade, hoping to get a trail built on unused rail corridors in McPherson County. The conservancy group proposed a plan known as the Meadowlark Trail, which would link Lindsborg and McPherson via an unused railroad trail. Another stretch of unused railroad would run from McPherson to Marion.
The local trails, however, have been tied up in disputes with landowners, and have not been completed. The delays cost the Meadowlark Trail a shot at some nice equipment that will now serve the eastern Kansas trail network. “We lost our chance with him,” Brenda Becker, chairwoman of the Central Kansas Conservancy, said. “We will have to look other places for equipment.”
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