Kansas Trail News for September 29, 2010 from Sunflower Recreational Trails:
Flint Hills Trail Family Ride This Sunday
“Bring the whole family for a relaxed ride on the beautiful Flint Hills Trail. We will start at the Osawatomie High School and will ride to Rantoul and back. Might try and have a bbq following ride. Contact Rob White at email@example.com for more info.”
Flint Hills Trail Support Builds
Karen DeOrnellas, superintendent of the Lyco Division of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, reports that the Admire City Council has joined KRTC as a business member which is a first for the Conservancy. Equine Adventures (785-828-3739) also joined as a business member. The following is excerpted from their brochure: “Nestled in beautiful northeast Kansas near the Flint Hills region, Salt Creek Ranch specializes in trail rides and beginning and intermediate horsemanship lessons. Enjoy guided trail rides through open pastures sporting wildflowers and wildlife. Schedule a ride through wooded trails at the ranch or along the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Wagon rides and campfire dinners available in cool weather!”
Marysville’s Blue River Rail-Trail Update
Carol O’Neal with Marshall County Connections reports that the local Future Farmers of America (FFA) has received a $2,800 grant to build a bridge and benches on the Blue River Rail-Trail. Area support for the trail and trail usage are growing tremendously and even many former opponents are now supporting the trail. The Transportation Enhancement grant the City of Marysville received will be used to build a rail-trail from the Pony Express Rider Sculpture to the city park. Efforts are underway to obtain an easement from the Union Pacific Railroad to connect this trail to the Blue River Rail-Trail.
Manhattan Bikeway Study Underway
The following is an AP article taken from the Lawrence Journal-World (8-24-2010):
Manhattan — About 180 Kansas State University students are assigned this week to find ways to help Manhattan become friendlier to bicycle riders.
The students will take part in a program through Wednesday that will map the city’s bicycle resources and needs. They’ll also design proposals to address the needs.
The Manhattan Mercury reported that this is the second year the Design Days event is being held for students and faculty in the department of landscape architecture and regional and community planning.
Teams of students will be assigned one of 19 different areas in Manhattan. They will eventually create a bike map of the city. It will show safety ratings for all streets; bicycle amenities such as bike racks, bathrooms and drinking fountains; and all bike paths.
Flint Hills Discovery Center In Manhattan Construction Underway
PORTAL TO THE PRAIRIE
Topeka Capital-Journal, Aug 8, 2010
By Linda A Thompson
MANHATTAN — In spring 2012, visitors who approach the southeast side of Manhattan will be greeted with a dramatic new space to explore.
That is the projected opening date for the Flint Hills Discovery Center, a key component to the downtown’s south end redevelopment that broke ground on July 7. All who enter the facility will be introduced to the ecology, history and culture that make this region unique.
Director Bob Workman said the center will be a “family-based, informal science and history learning center. Since Manhattan is a transient place with Fort Riley and Kansas State (University), it will be a great place for people to get oriented, learn and explore the Flint Hills region.”
Designer Brad Nederhoff, of Verner Johnson Inc. in Boston, Mass., was mindful of the center’s visual impact during the design process. His company has worked on some of the most popular museums in the world, from small projects to work done for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and the Louvre Museum in Paris.
“We wanted to design an iconic building presence since you see it right as you come into the city,” he said of the Flint Hills project. “We wanted it to be distinctive and unique, but not expensive. I imagine people seeing it coming across the bridge, with all the terraced walls and curving shapes that undulate across the landscape.”
The idea for the project began with the formation of an attractions committee in 2004, which included a group of citizens focused on the concept of an attraction that celebrated the Flint Hills.
“As it evolved, it became a place for people to get their bearings about what the Flint Hills is all about,” Workman said.
The museum will showcase this unique ecological region as the last remaining tallgrass prairie in the nation, with its high floral, fauna and animal species concentration. It also will highlight how the Flint Hills is more of a managed landscape than a preserved landscape where ecology and commerce co-exist.
The building’s entrance will be a tall glass tower. From the outside it will look as though two limestone wings branch off from that tower, when in actuality the building will blend into the landscape.
Green roofs will create a terraced park to mimic the prairie, complete with grazing bison statues, and feature outdoor exhibits and activity areas. The entire building is environmentally friendly with the green roofs, a geothermal heating and air conditioning unit, lots of natural light and systems to filter rain water through the planting beds.
Future plans include solar and wind power, both as a way to energize the museum and to demonstrate the technology to visitors.
Inside, guests will find a wide array of exhibits that celebrate the Flint Hills, which are now in the finishing design stages at Hilferty Museum Planning and Exhibit Design in Athens, Ohio. One area is the Flint Hills Story, a large, multistory domed space that highlights the geographic, geological and cultural aspects of the region. A multimedia area called the Prairie Winds Experience will surround visitors with the beauty of the area in a large multiscreen space. The Prairie Winds Gallery will show the impact people and the land have on each other.
The upper floor will offer a family discovery zone with projects for parents to do with children who are 4 to 8 years old. There also will be a toddler area to entertain the wee ones.
Workman noted the center will partner with researchers from Kansas State University, Konza Biological Station and other organizations.
“We can serve as a conduit for information to be disseminated,” he said. “We will distill the big ideas into smaller pieces for people to understand. We will be a portal to information, such as man’s impact on ecology and the landscape. In the best world, we may be able to influence behavior.”
The outdoor park and a large part of the building’s entrance area will be open to anyone looking for a place to relax and enjoy the atmosphere without purchasing admission to the exhibits.
“A goal we had was to design a building that draws you into the exhibits,” Nederhoff said. “We hope the experience of going through the building and the exhibits is seamless.”
For now, the building is under construction and the exhibits are in final development. The multimedia film begins production in the fall. The building is projected to be completed by September 2011, with the opening scheduled for spring 2012.
“This is not the best economy to do this,” Workman said, “but the planning has been so thoughtful and honed by the recession that it will only make us stronger.”
The Center’s website is www.ci.manhattan.ks.us/discoverycenter.
Editor’s note: it is hoped that the Center’s exhibits on the tallgrass prairie ecosystem will not consist of propaganda for the ranching industry proclaiming how well they are protecting the biodiversity of the prairie. Overgrazing and over-burning by many ranchers is reducing prairie vitality and biodiversity. Plus, many ranchers let cattle trample riparian habitat along streams and springs.
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