Location: Kansas

Kansas Trail News: December 29, 2009

Kansas Trail News for December 29, 2009 from Sunflower Recreational Trails:

St. 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 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
Kansas Trail NewsKansas Trail News is published monthly by Clark H. Coan, Public Information Specialist for Sunflower Recreational Trails, P.O. Box 44-2043, Lawrence, KS 66044, 785-842-3458. Reprinted with permission. If you have any trail news you’d like to share, please contact us.

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About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

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