Location: Kansas

Kansas Trail News: March 4, 2010

Kansas Trail News for March 4, 2010 from Sunflower Recreational Trails:

Supreme Court To Hear Rails-To-Trails Case

McPherson attorney Mike Mills reports that arguments will be heard before the Kansas Supreme Court on an appeal from the Miami County District Court on May 5, 2010, at 9:00 am. In this case, Miami County Commissioners v. Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc et al (Case No. 101,811), the plaintiff attempted to set an unreasonable performance bond amount for Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy which is developing the Flint Hills Nature Trail. The bond is required under the so-called Kansas Recreational Trails Act pushed through the legislature in 1996 by the Kansas Farm Bureau. The farm bureau has filed amicus briefs in the case in support of the County. A decision is normally promulgated within 30 to 60 days after the oral argument. There is a good chance that the Court will find at least some of the more onerous provisions of the Kansas Recreational Trails Act preempted by the federal Rails to Trails Amendment to the National Trails Act.

Flint Hills Trail Is Trail Of The Month

The Flint Hills Nature Trail has been designated by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy as the Trail of the Month. The Flint Hills Nature Trail has been designated as the “Trail of the Month” by the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy on its website. The trail stretches 117 miles between Osawatomie and Herington.

“We appreciate the national recognition for this outstanding recreational trail,” said Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy President John Purvis. The Flint Hills Trail is not only a state resource, it is a national one. It is the seventh longest trail in America and forms a component of the American Discovery Trail, the nation’s first coast-to-coast trail.” For more information see: www.railstotrails.org and Congratulations to the Flint Hills Nature Trail!

Flint Hills Trail Longest Private Trail

Scott Allen with Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy reports that the 117-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail is the longest trail in the nation being built and maintained by a private entity. Most long-distance trails are constructed and maintained by governmental agencies. A few organizations do though. For example, the 63-mile Wabash Trace Nature Trail in southwest Iowa is maintained by the Southwest Iowa Nature Trails, Inc.

Bill Would Make Prairie Spirit Trail State Park

Kansas House Bill 2434, which would designate the Prairie Spirit Rail-Trail a state park, has passed the House and is now in the Senate Natural Resources Committee. The trail is operated by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) but doesn’t have state park status such as the famous Katy Trail in Missouri. “Having state park status will benefit the trail through a lot more advertising and recognition,” said trail manager Trent McCown. [ read more ]

Prairie Fire Festival April 9-10

The Prairie Fire Festival will be held April 9-10 in Cottonwood Falls. This is the time of the year when Flint Hills ranchers burn off the native tallgrass prairie to promote grass growth and eliminate woody plants. The fires at night are spectacular. There also are trails on the nearby Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve which now has a buffalo herd. For more information go to www.prairiefirefestival.com.

Trails At Bartlett Arboretum In Belle Plaine

According to the Spring issue of Kansas! Magazine, spring is a good time to walk the trails which wind through majestic trees in the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine. There are ten state champion trees in the century-old arboretum proposed for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information go to www.bartlettarboretum.com. The website states:

“Located 20 miles south of Wichita, the century-old, historic Bartlett Arboretum is home to massive cypress, oaks and champion Japanese maples. For nearly 100 years many generations of Kansans have enjoyed this unique sanctuary once touted as ‘the only mature arboretum between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.’”

Private Railbanking Upheld By Courts

On February 22, the US Supreme Court declined to review a decision (Moody v. Allegheny Valley Land Trust) by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholding private railbanking. Some relevant language of the original decision: (W)e hold that Conrail’s sale of the right-of-way to a qualified railbanking organization like AVLT, that filed a Declaration of Railbanking at the time the deed was recorded, did not result in abandonment of the right-of-way. Conrail owned a right-of-way; it sold that right of way to an organization that a) planned to use it as a right-of-way and b) planned to hold it subject to revitalization of rail lines in accordance with the requirements of Section 1247(d) of the National Act and consistent with the railbanking requirements established in Buffalo Township. 813 A.2d at 670.

It is unclear if this applies to Kansas but it could benefit efforts to railbank out-of-service rail corridors in Kansas. If for example, the facts indicate that consummation of abandonment has not occurred and the Surface Transportation Board has not issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use (NITU), the railroad and the railbanking entity can possibly enter into a private railbanking agreement. An Kansas Attorney General opinion is needed.

Dillon Nature Center Trails At Hutch

Kansas! Magazine also reports that there are three miles of hiking trails at the Dillon Nature Center in Hutchison. There are also gardens, two small lakes and a large visitors’ center. For more information go to: www.hutchrec.com/dnc/

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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