Location: Kansas

Kansas Trail News: May 5, 2010

Kansas Trail News for May 5, 2010 from Sunflower Recreational Trails:

Osawatomie-Ottawa Trail Section Nearing Completion

Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy has announced that it is now possible to bicycle or horseback ride 18 miles all the way from Osawatomie to Ottawa on the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Screenings for the last three miles of the trail were just installed and all that is left to be completed is to install two bridge railings. Although the trail section is not officially open, trail users can travel on the trail if they proceed slowly and safely across the bridges. That means walking bikes and horses. At Ottawa trail users can travel west on 7th street to the Prairie Spirit Trail and then travel 51 miles to Iola. This is a key milestone in building an interconnected rail-trail system in eastern Kansas.

Kansas Supreme Court Hearing

The Kansas Supreme Court held oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Kansas Recreational Trails Act this morning. The act is being challenged by Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, represented by attorney Mike Mills, J.D. of McPherson. Mills contends that the Act is discriminatory because it singles out railbanked rail corridors and federal law pre-empts the law because it discourages railbanking and the development of rail-trails contrary to the intent of Congress. The justices peppered Mills with questions during his 20-minute presentation. However, they only asked two questions of the Miami County attorney who is seeking to see the statute upheld. If the Act is not overturned (or key sections of it) by the Kansas Supreme Court, KRTC can go to federal court.

Fort Leavenworth Trails

Matt Nowak, Forester and Natural Resources Director for the U.S. Army at Ft. Leavenworth, reports that there are about 30 miles of historic double-track forest roads and a few miles of old rail on the reservation. The old roads extend throughout the reservation and link housing areas to recreation areas and are available for mountain biking and hiking. The fort is building new single-track trails in areas like along Sheridan Drive to provide a sustainable woodland trail system that is adequate for hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians.

Leavenworth Rail-Trail Efforts

Reports received at the Kansas Sampler indicate a third effort to develop a rail-trail in Leavenworth may be underway. The first effort was over 20 years ago but adjacent landowners convinced city officials to drop the idea. Matt Nowak reports that the Leavenworth Parks and Recreation Dept. has hired an agency to develop a trail plan for the city and the plan includes using parts of an old north-south rail corridor which has reverted to adjacent landowners. Most of the corridor still exists and it may be possible to use it to link to the Three-Mile Creek Trail (once it is expanded farther west) and a new Five-Mile Creek Trail which would run along the river going west. Another link along the river would provide the city with a huge loop trail system. Interestingly enough, Kansas Sampler Festival goers noticed an unofficial rail-trail crossing the Leavenworth VA property.

Sunflower Changes Name

Sunflower Recreational Trails, Inc. has announced that it has changed its name to Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc. to better reflect its mission. The Board of Directors unanimously approved the name change at its May 2 meeting in Leavenworth during the Kansas Sampler. SRTC promotes the creation of an interconnected system of rail-trails in Kansas.

Prairie Spirit Designated State Park

The Lawrence Journal-World reports on efforts to make the Prairie Spirit Trail an official state park:

When legislators return for the wrap-up session on Wednesday to prepare a budget, one of the side issues is a bill that would make Prairie Spirit Trail the state’s 25th state park. The measure — House Bill 2434 — is currently in a House-Senate conference committee and has gotten lumped together with several other measures, such as reopening an entrance at Tuttle Creek State Park. But the major thrust of the bill is to make the 51-mile long Prairie Spirit Trail, which runs from Ottawa to Iola, a park. [ read more ]

Preserving Historic Trail Ruts

The Kansas Land Trust is currently working on a conservation easement in central Kansas to preserve Santa Fe Trail swales or ruts about 1.5 miles northeast of the Sunflower Santa Fe Trail (a rail-trail between Marion and McPherson). Many ruts have been lost in recent decades in Kansas on the Oregon-California and Santa Fe National Historic Trails due to development and agricultural practices.

Grand Opening Of Blue River Rail Trail

The Grand Opening of the Blue River Rail Trail was held on May 1 in Marysville. Over 100 trail enthusiasts participated in the events. The Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting of the new two-mile section and remarks were made by Ross Greathouse from the Nebraska Trails Foundation. Marshall County Connection, the local group developing the trail, held a 5-kilometer run/walk and family bike ride for the public. At noon, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and lunch for participants were held at the trailhead. The Marysville Advocate reports the following:

“The rail trail is under development in phases. The first two-mile segment, completed this year, now runs from the trailhead to Harvest Road. The tentative plan is to open the remainder of the trail in four segments at one- to two-year intervals as funding becomes available, according to Marshall County Connection members.

A hard-packed surface of limestone chat, the trail is designed for non-motorized transportation. Other than law enforcement, medical, emergency and maintenance vehicles, the only motorized vehicles allowed on the trail are wheelchairs.

The full Blue River Rail Trail will eventually be developed for 13 miles to the Nebraska line. There it is slated to connect with the Homestead Trail that runs through Beatrice and on to Lincoln. The trail’s corridor covers a diversity of habitats, upland areas of mixed shrub, grassland, flood plain and stream crossings, timber and pastures and is bordered by croplands.” [ read more ]

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]

One response to “Kansas Trail News: May 5, 2010”

  1. Sean says:

    Sounds like more than the legislature was bought and paid for the Kansas Farm Bureau…