Location: Kansas

Kansas Trail News: June 10, 2010

Kansas Trail News for June 10, 2010 from Sunflower Recreational Trails:

Landon Trail Section To Open June 12

John Purvis, Superintendent of the Landon Trail Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, has announced that the next section of the Landon Nature Trail will open on or about Saturday, June 12, 2010. This section is from Paulen Road to 89th Street near Richland (southeast of Topeka). The surface still needs to be completed.

Meadowlark Trail Project Jump-Started

John Purvis also reports that he recently “went to Lindsborg and met with the Central Kansas Conservancy (CKC) volunteers doing the Meadowlark Trail. The portion done by the City of Lindsborg is fantastic and I believe that the volunteers will do wonderful work on the trail outside of town. They have a new program where the students at Bethany College in Lindsborg will all go out for some workdays to get to know each other and give to the community. This is a wonderful idea. They estimate they will have at least 200 students at a time out there.”

“They have just received a $5,000 grant for their trail. This is their first grant and they are FIRED UP. Their excitement sort of tickled me. It is contagious.”

The Meadowlark Trail stretches 13 miles from Lindsborg to McPherson where it connects with the Sunflower Santa Fe Trail.

American Discovery Trail Legislation

The following was submitted by Ron Ruoff who is the Kansas Coordinator for the American Discovery Trail.

H.R. 4671, the National Discovery Trails Act

Legislation to officially designate the American Discovery Trail as a part of the National Trails System was just re-introduced in the U.S. Congress. Your help is urgently needed to ensure its passage.

You can help! Ask your representative to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 4671. The ADTS website –- www.discoverytrail.org -– contains information to help you do just that, including how to contact your representative and sample letters that you can modify to add your personal touch. You can view H.R. 4671 and get your representative’s address at www.house.gov. Hard copy letters or phone calls often receive more attention than e-mails, but a quick e-mail letter can also help if that is all you have time to do. Ask your friends and family to do the same. The more people who contact their representatives, the better our chances.

Why We Need this Legislation

Here are the basics on this important legislation to help you craft your letter to your member of Congress. Let’s all work together to make 2010 the year this legislation passes!

Why support the National Discovery Trail Act?

The American Discovery Trail benefits local areas by attracting tourist dollars and bringing national visibility.

It benefits the country by connecting five national scenic, 12 national historic, and 34 national recreation trails. It is the backbone of the national trails system.

It benefits our citizens’ health by providing outdoor opportunities to keep fit, burn calories, and fight obesity. It brings a national trail to a huge population because some 32 million people live within 20 miles of the trail.

The ADT is a public-private partnership that is cost-effective with the vast majority of the work being done by volunteers.

The presence of the ADT has resulted in many local trails being developed.

What does the act do?

It amends the National Trails System Act to create a new category of long-distance trails called national discovery trails and designates the ADT as the first trail under that category.

Why create a new category of national trails?

A National Park Service study recommended this because the American Discovery Trail fills an important spot in the National Trails System but it doesn’t fit into the traditional categories of national scenic or national historic trail. Discovery trails are different because they emphasize accessibility to more people by deliberate routing through small towns and major metropolitan areas, providing trails close to the homes of all Americans.

Why do we want this designation?

We need the designation to fully mark the ADT. Without it, we are in legal limbo and many federal and other land managers will not allow us to mark the trail on lands they administer. This designation adds legitimacy and visibility to the ADT. Becoming part of the National Trails System will enhance its eligibility for technical assistance from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.

The legislation is not a question of land acquisition, but of designation and recognition. The American Discovery Trail follows existing trails, country lanes, and towpaths, which are already maintained by local, state, and federal governments. It is already almost entirely on public land. The few exceptions are by landowner invitation on existing rights-of-way or agreement, such as Indiana’s Cardinal Greenway, which is owned by a non-profit organization with the mission of making the trail accessible to the public. It brings unique qualities to the National Trails System by supplying connections that are currently missing.

Buffalo Commons National Park Proposed Again

A second editorial in the KC Star advocates the establishment of a national park in western Kansas. Go to the website listed and voice your support for a national park in Kansas. Mr. President, Kansas needs a national park

The address is: www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors/ It requires a quick registration.

But it is worth the time. The idea for a Buffalo Commons first came up in 1987, when two Rutgers’ University researchers ignited a prairie fire by suggesting much of the high plains, including a large swath of Kansas farmland, should be returned to its natural state. Today, more and more people see the establishment of a large national park in the west as one of that area’s last chances for survival.

As former Kansas Governor and once fierce critic Mike Hayden said last year as Kansas secretary of Wildlife and Parks: “The model we’re now following has failed. Buffalo Commons makes more sense every year.”

And the Great Outdoors Initiative offers a chance to be heard, and perhaps a chance to make this happen. Those who love and respect Kansas, and American heritage, should take advantage of this opportunity.

Skyline Prairie Drive: Loneliest Road In Kansas

The loneliest road in Kansas is so desolate and remote that a traveler will not encounter a house or vehicle for miles and miles. The Skyline Prairie Drive, stretching between Matfield Green and Madison, traverses the tallgrass prairie of the Central Flint Hills. The road passes through a highly scenic area once proposed for a tallgrass prairie national park. There are magnificent views from an informal Scenic Overlook east of Texaco Hill where one can see tallgrass prairie for 25+ miles in three directions.

This is Open Range country where the cattle roam freely and may stand on the road (proceed very slowly and do not honk horn so as not to startle them.) Since there are no fences or signs, it is not technically trespassing to walk on the Open Range (unless the landowner asks the visitor to leave and the visitor refuses).

This is also one of the windiest sites in Kansas (average wind speed of 17.3 mph). Texaco Hill (elevation 1,637 ft.) is the high point (there are scattered oil wells which won’t be around forever).

Directions: Go west of Emporia on US 50, at Strong City take K-177 south to Matfield Green. On the east edge of Matfield Green take the first right and follow the road south for 3.5 miles. Then go east toward Madison. The gravel is rough, so be sure to have good tires and a spare tire.

[ Note: This road is part of the annual Dirty Kanza 200 bicycle race through the Flint Hills. It is a magnificent route. ]

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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