Location: Kansas

Kansas Trail News: May 2, 2011

Kansas Trail News for May 2, 2011 from Sunflower Recreational Trails:

Prairie Spirit Trail South Extension To Be Built

Efforts are underway to extend the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail from Iola to Humboldt. Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy assumed railbanking custodianship of the 6.5-mile out-of-service rail corridor in January. A series of informational meetings will be held in Humboldt this summer to inform the public and solicit input. A project development plan will be prepared.

“The excitement for this trail in Humboldt and Iola is very tangible, says Larry Ross, SRTC president.“One idea to promote the trail is for the mayors and middle students of each town to walk to the middle of the trail for a joint celebration.” The current plan calls for development of the trail using local resources and volunteer labor. Then the trail can be turned over to public agency which can manage and maintain it.

Bike Commuter Club

A novel idea was proposed at a trail stakeholders’ meeting held April 21 in Humboldt, Kansas:

Create a Bike Commuter Club in which bicyclists in Humboldt would meet at 7:00 am weekdays to commute together seven (7) miles to Iola for work. The club would provide support and networking, etc. for commuters. The concept is much like a Walking School Bus. A rail-trail is in the planning stages between the two towns, so it would be a safe and pleasant journey. If gas prices reach $10.00/gallon, the bike commuter club idea will take really take off.

Reconnecting Children To Nature

The following is excerpted from the Lawrence Journal-World (April 26, 2011):

“Outside for a Better Inside,” a Lawrence nonprofit group, is hosting outdoor activities like kite-flying events. It wants to reconnect children to the great outdoors and nature because it believes being outside leads to a better inside. The activities — organized by Outside for a Better Inside — are open to anyone and are free. During the past year, they’ve visited the Baker Wetlands and Prairie Park Nature Center, participated in a butterfly tagging program, and went on a scavenger hunt…

The next one is a fishing expedition on Saturday, May 7, at Mary’s Lake, which is in Prairie Park. The event, which is from 8:30 a.m. to noon, is being held in conjunction with the Crown Casting Club and Lawrence Parks & Recreation. Bait and tackle will be provided along with refreshments.

Mary Jones, of Outside for a Better Inside, said the nonprofit builds butterfly gardens for schools.

It also wants to get a new nature club started in Lawrence, one that will organize its own outings and meet on a regular basis. She said they haven’t had anyone interested yet in starting a club, but they are hopeful.

“That’s the part that’s missing,” Jones said. “We really want to get one going.”

If you are interested in helping to organize such a club, contact Jones at 766-3023 or maryjones@askmcgrew.com

Antelope Spotted In Central Flint Hills

Two pronghorn antelope were recently observed in Chase County southeast of Cottonwood Falls. There continues to be a population of about 50 individuals in the central Flint Hills. Here is what KDWPT says on their website:

Pronghorn Antelope

The antelope, or more accurately, the pronghorn, is a unique species to North America. Historically pronghorn ranged throughout the western three-fourths of Kansas and were considered nearly as numerous as bison. But by the late 1800s and early 1900s, unregulated harvest reduced pronghorn to the western border of the state. Trap and transplant efforts were initiated in 1964 in Wallace and Sherman counties. Later (1978-1983) pronghorn were reintroduced into Barber, Comanche, Ellsworth, Saline, Gove, and Morton counties. A Flint Hills population of pronghorns was also established in Chase County with releases in 1978 and 1979, 1982 and 1983, and 1991 and 1992.

The western Kansas reintroductions were successful. There are about 2,000 pronghorn in the westernmost two to three tiers of counties. A few pronghorn roam Barber County, and 50 or so remain in the Flint Hills, which was the eastern edge of the historic pronghorn range in the U.S. None remain in Ellsworth and Saline counties.

As the landscape becomes more intensely developed and modified, it becomes more and more difficult to find space for larger animals like pronghorn, and landscape changes such as the loss of native prairie (to agriculture, urbanization, and tree growth resulting from fire suppression) have not been favorable for pronghorn. Even fences can present a significant barrier to pronghorn movement and survival. As a result of these things, the amount of good pronghorn habitat is limited in Kansas. Even areas with extensive native grassland like parts of central Kansas that might appear to be suitable for pronghorn have seen reintroduced animals dwindle or disappear. There is a healthy population of pronghorn in Kansas, but they are primarily restricted to the west.

Nat’l Park Service To Study New Trail Routes

The current Oregon-California Trail Assn. newsletter reports the following:

National Park Service To Hold Public Scoping Meetings Around the Nation

The National Park Service is conducting a feasibility study and environmental assessment to evaluate the feasibility and suitability of adding historic routes to the existing Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express National Historic Trails (NHTs). The study, which addresses 64 individual routes in more than a dozen states stretching from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Coast, was authorized under the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act (Public Law 111-11) signed by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2009.

Some of the routes to be studied include the Cherokee Trail from Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to Fort Bridger, Wyoming; the Naches Pass Trail in Oregon; the 1856-57 Handcart Route from Iowa City to Council Bluffs, Iowa; and a 20-mile southern alternative route of the Pony Express Trail from Wathena to Troy, Kansas.

The Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express National Historic Trails opened the West to settlement and represent one of the largest overland migrations on North American soil. The lure of gold, the promise of fertile land, the adventure and a new place to call home beckoned all those willing to take the chance. These trails fostered both commerce and communication, which helped bridge the gap between the East and the West binding a nation once torn by civil war.

If included, the routes would add thousands of additional miles to these existing national historic trails.

There are many ways for you to learn more about these trails and to get involved with the planning process.

  • Attend a feasibility study scoping meeting
  • Review the draft study
  • Tour a trail-related historic site or museum
  • Visit a trail-related route or walk in a trace
  • Join a trail association

You may also submit comments to Gretchen Ward via email at gretchen_ward@nps.gov or via regular mail at P.O. Box 728, Santa Fe, NM, 87504. The deadline for comments is July 30th, 2011.

May 10 – McPherson, Kansas
The McPherson Public Library
214 West Martin

May 11 – Topeka, Kansas
Kansas Museum of History
6425 SW 6th Avenue

May 11 – Independence, Missouri
National Frontier Trails Museum
318 West Pacific

New Trails On Jeju, Island, South Korea

The following is excerpted from the Christian Science Monitor (4-21-11):

Off the tourist path

“Jeju Island, off the southern coast of South Korea, is a popular vacation destination for Koreans as well as foreign tourists who love to tour by bus, stopping occasionally to hike. With that in mind, Suh Myeong-suk, a Jeju native, founded Jeju Olle Trail four years ago to introduce visitors to the island’s remotest corners on foot. ‘Here on Jeju, the ‘olle’ is the walkway from the gate of a house to the road,’ she says. “We want to have trails leading to the heart of Jeju,” as a form of welcome.

Jeju Ollen Trail is actually 19 different trails, from six to 14 miles long, running along the coastline, through the interior, and onto the slopes of Mt. Halla, South Korea’s tallest peak, which soars 6,400 feet above orange groves and grassy plains where Jeju ponies graze. A visitor could spend weeks wandering through woodlands, scrambling over rocks, and sojourning by lakes and waterfalls.”

Kansas Sampler May 7-8 In Leavenworth

The Kansas Sampler will once again be held in Leavenworth. Last year there was a record attendance of 8,500. Below is excerpted from the official news release:

The Kansas Sampler Festival was designed to bring communities and attractions from all over the state together to make it easy for the public to discover day trip possibilities. In other words, the primary purpose of the festival is to provide the public a sample of what there is to see and do in Kansas. Whether you are looking for hiking trails, historic sites, natural landmarks, unique restaurants, off-the-beaten track eateries, architectural gems, hole-in-wall performing centers, artists-at-work, specialty shops, or have-to-be-there Kansas events, this festival is for you!

Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy will staff a booth to promote the Sunflower State’s rail-trails and the project to create an interconnected trails system. A Board of Directors meeting will be held at 10:00 a.m. Sunday May 8 at the booth. All trails enthusiasts are invited to attend, but bring a lawn chair.

Here are the details of the Sampler: It will be held in Ray Miller Park, 4201 S. 4th Street. Hours: Saturday, May 7, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 8, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults (weekend pass $8).

Kansas Trail NewsKansas Trail News is published monthly by Clark H. Coan, Public Information Specialist for Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, Inc., 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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