Location: Pittsburg

Cherokee County Obstructs Trail Development

I suppose this is old news, but it’s new to me, so I’ll pass it along…

I recently came across this story about the Ruby Jack Trail, located in southwestern Missouri, running from Carthage to the Kansas state line:

When complete, the Ruby Jack trail will ultimately run from Carthage to the KS state line. Initially it was planned as a bi-state trail all the way to Columbus, KS. However, Cherokee County passed an ordinance in response to those plans that effectively prohibits the rail-trail from entering Kansas. So until the good people of Cherokee County overcome their fear of bikers and joggers, the trail will stop at the state line.

Rough gravel aside, I am really excited about this trail. I think it’s a great asset to the area and another excellent component of the ever expanding trail system in the Joplin area.

Read more from Ryan McCoy at the Shortleaf blog: Ruby Jack Trail.

I was unfamiliar with the Cherokee County situation, so did a bit more searching and turned up this 2003 article from the Missouri Bicycle Federation:

Supporters originally hoped for a 28-mile trail from Carthage to Columbus, Kan. Opposition and a fee imposed by the Cherokee County Commission caused the trail group to drop the Kansas portion.

And this nugget from the Joplin Globe:

In 2002, the Cherokee County (Kan.) Landowners Association filed a statement opposing extending the trail into Kansas, saying some trail groups lack funding, manpower “and quite frankly motivation” to develop and maintain the trails they control. They expressed concern about littering, vandalism and inadequate policing.

The coalition pulled out of the Kansas portion after the Cherokee County Commission ruled that the trails group would have to post a surety bond of about $10,000 per mile to ensure that the trail would be maintained.

Teverow said that would have made it prohibitively expensive to run the trail to Columbus.

“The state of Kansas, I would say, has made it more difficult than any state in the nation,” he said.

And finally, another excerpt from Shortleaf: No New Trail!:

Basically the story is that the Joplin Trails Coalition is developing a 16 mile rails to trails project from Carthage to the KS state line and pretty much everyone along the way is trying to keep it from happening. Initially the plan was to extend all the way to somewhere in KS, but Cherokee County was so opposed to the forward thinking idea of fitness and recreation they passed a law that made it cost prohibitive and eventually the coalition gave up on the idea of having a trail in KS.

I was told by a member of the coalition that farmers will routinely dump old machinery or bales of hay to obstruct the trail, and surprisingly, one of the biggest opponents of the project was the Carl Junction school system. The trail is supposed to pass near the high school and they are paranoid about the “transients” that might hang out on the trail. I have biked and hiked on lots of trials and don’t recall ever being mugged or offered drugs. And heaven forbid the school system actually encourage students to get out and USE THE TRAIL.

The main argument for this most recent lawsuit is that the trail will degrade neighboring property values. I have seen many small towns enhanced by these types of trails, but I don’t recall seeing any that were turned ghetto because of one.

Why do some places in Kansas have to be so backwards? What exactly do they fear?

Do they not want places for their citizens to walk, run, and ride? Do they not want people to visit their communities? Are they not interested in economic development?

Makes no sense to me…

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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]

5 responses to “Cherokee County Obstructs Trail Development”

  1. luis says:

    i,m a spanish, and i would like to know news .. about bicyclist Diego Ballesteros ,who is in Wesley Hospital Center ,in Wichita .Thanks to everybody who give me these .i,am sorry if my enghlish is a bad lenguages.again .thanks a lot..

  2. ron says:

    I have an aunt who lives on a farm in so. minn. next to a railroad which was being looked at for a rail to trail. they said no to it because they didn’t want bikers coming up to the house at all hours requesting to use the bathroom. and of course the other issues weighed into her decision as well.

  3. Mark Schooley,MD says:

    I’ve ridden this trail in Overland Park. It’s become a ghetto, drug dealers selling bootleg Gatorade G4 which is totally illegal. I mean they are there, “Hey Slick, you wanna ride faster?” Bike trails can really mess up a community. They attract yuppies. You get a bike trail, and before you know it, Starbucks and Panera move in. There goes the neighborhood.

  4. Mark Schooley,MD says:

    I sometimes take my MTB on an abandoned railroad bed. It would be easier to cross the chain blockage if I had a CX bike. But I can tell you this, if they paved it and skinny-tire bikers rode on it, it would be a disaster.

    This morning I was driving and saw this road biker an hour before sunrise. I’m pretty sure he had a MagicShine headlight. The glare from his headlght nearly blinded me a half-mile away. Maybe it didn’t blind me, but I could sure see him, which is nearly the same. I honked at him and yelled, “Get on the sidewalk!” but he ignored me.

  5. Mark Schooley,MD says:

    Just being facetious above. I don’t know why homeowners in Wichita and elsewhere object to a bike-path behind their houses, when JoCo has done a fantastic job. Indian Creek and Tomahawk Creek trails are gorgeous. With walkers and joggers, you can’t ride full-speed all the time, but you can go pretty fast, and the twisty turns, drops and short climbs (a couple quite steep, actually) are awesome.

    I was actually really happy to see a cyclist doing a pre-dawn ride, nicely illuminated. I gave him a toot and a thumb up as I passed.