Location: Kansas

Kansas Trail News: June 6, 2011

Kansas Trail News for June 6, 2011 from Sunflower Recreational Trails:

Investing In Trails Benefits KC Region

The Star’s editorial | Investing in trails benefits Kansas City region

Walkers, runners and bicyclists this spring are enjoying a newly opened, 2.5-mile stretch of the Little Blue Trace Trail as it winds under Interstate 70 and through neighborhoods in eastern Jackson County. There’s more to come, too, as crews continue the pathway to the south.

Meanwhile, more miles of trails are being built and connected in the Northland, while lengthy paths still attract lots of people in Johnson County.

Overall, the region’s system of trails and greenways has made encouraging progress in recent years, with more than 200 miles now available. Still, that’s nowhere near the ambitious goals set out two decades ago in the MetroGreen plan, which outlines a network stretching 1,100 miles.

On Wednesday, several parks officials will be part of a public discussion about MetroGreen and its future. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Kansas City’s Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. The officials are Mark McHenry, Bill Maasen and Brian Nowotny, directors of the Kansas City, Johnson County and Platte County parks and recreation departments, respectively. Admission is free. Call 816-701-3407 for reservations or more information.

A more extensive trails system would be a tremendous asset for area residents. Parks leaders, neighborhood groups and private-sector contributors must keep working toward that aim. At some point — dare we dream? — a small regional tax may even help complete the MetroGreen plan.

Prairie Spirit Trail To Be Extended

Allen County Thrive and the Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, jointly announced this week that the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail will be extended south 6.5 miles from Iola. This addition will follow the regulations of the National Trails Act and will extend along a 6.5-mile out-of-service rail line between Iola and Humboldt.

“We are very excited about extending the Prairie Spirit Trail to Humboldt,” offered David Tolland, Allen County Thrive Executive Director. “This will not only let people travel safely between the two communities, it will encourage people to exercise for health. It will also allow people to gather for festivals and informal socializing and, thus, build a sense of community.”

Combined with the 1.5-mile segment the City of Iola is developing within its city limits, the Prairie Spirit Trail will now be expanded by an additional eight miles. Not only will it provide a safe place for bicycling, walking, jogging, and bird watching, it will improve the overall quality of life in the communities by making the region a more attractive place in which to live and work.

“We are now counting on local groups and individuals to come forward to build this scenic trail segment, said Clark Coan, Public Information Specialist for Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy. “The trail will be similar to the existing Prairie Spirit Trail with its crushed limestone surface. However, we will be able to do it much cheaper using local volunteer labor and donations. We estimate the project will cost $60,000. When it is complete, we hope to turn it over to another entity such as the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.”

“The Conservancy’s mission is to work in partnership with communities to transform out-of-service rail corridors into outstanding recreational trails which will provide a place for families, youth and seniors to walk, bicycle or jog safely away from traffic, said Coan. “We believe that if we are able to get just one child out on a trail that, as a result, develops a love of nature and exercise, we have been successful.”

A series of informational meetings will be held in the two communities this summer and fall.

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New Wichita Trail Connects Existing Trails

A new Wichita Trail which connects the existing K-96 Bike Path and Canal Route Bike Path opened May 20. The McAdams Bike Path was constructed with American Recovery and Reinvestment funds. The interconnected recreational path system now provides 31 continuous miles of walking, jogging and bicycling pathways from Central and K-96 to a trailhead near Cessna and Planview parks.

Trail Between Larned And Ft. Larned In Planning Stages

Mary Hanson, Outdoor Recreation Planner with the National Park Service Regional Office in Omaha, reports that efforts are underway to build a trail from Larned west six miles along Pawnee Creek to the Ft. Larned National Historic Site. All of the landowners contacted so far have agreed to permit a trail. Two have yet to be contacted.

Short Line Rails With Trails Possibilities Open Up

John Rosacker, Director of the Bureau of Rail Affairs, reports that WATCO Companies based in Pittsburg, Kansas, is now amenable to Rails WITH Trails projects. Since most of the corridors are 100’ in width, recreational trails can be built within the corridor with rail service continuing. Rosacker said that the several short lines owned and operated by WATCO have low rail traffic which would reduce potential conflicts with trail users. He also said that he doesn’t foresee any future abandonments in the state except for one.

Larry Ross, President of Sunflower Rail-Trails Conservancy, says this development “opens up new possibilities in the state for linking existing rail-trails. It could help us achieve our goal of an interconnected network of rail-trails in the Sunflower State.” The only drawback is the cost. Building a totally new trail surface base and new bridges could be cost-prohibitive.

Slough Creek Point Trail At Perry Lake

There is a little-known recreational trail at Perry Lake called the Slough Creek Point Educational Trail. The two-loop trail is located adjacent to Slough Creek on the southeast side of the Perry Lake. The two interconnecting paved paths primarily traverse grassland. One ends up at an overlook above the lake. Each path is about one-half mile long. To reach the trail go north on Ferguson Rd. from the town of Perry for 2.5 miles. Then take Marion Road for 5.5 miles. At 70th St. go west or left and follow the signs.

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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