The Osage County News reported on the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy’s 2013 Annual Meeting, which took place on November 23rd in Osage City:
Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy held its annual meeting Nov. 23 at the Osage County Senior Center, Osage City, with more than 60 people in attendance. Linda Craghead, Kansas Department Wildlife Parks and Tourism assistant secretary of parks and tourism, was the keynote speaker for the event. She spoke about growth of the tourism industry in Kansas, and how it coincides with the planned development of the Flint Hills Nature Trail with $2.4 million in federal and state grants announced earlier this year.
Craghead said tourism is the third largest industry in the state, and the Flint Hills and Flint Hills Nature Trail are the types of attractions that will bring people to Kansas. She said outdoor recreation is something Kansas has that tourists want to experience, and it requires minimal investment in infrastructure.
“If there’s anything that will bring people to Kansas, it is outdoor tourism,” she said. “It’s a great way to attract business to your community.”
Craghead applauded the work of the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, which has been developing the Flint Hills Nature Trail and the Landon Nature Trail for a number of years.
“I know what you guys have done hasn’t been easy,” Craghead said. “There’s been a lot of roadblocks, a lot of tractor blocks. But you guys continue to persevere.”
She said the best way to complete the trail is by working as a team. Noting the support of Governor Sam Brownback and KDWPT Secretary Robin Jennison for trail development as a tourism draw, “it takes a team to make things happen.”
“Our governor is an avid supporter of what you do,” Craghead said.
“All of the communities along the way, all of the landowners along the way … all of these people can be on the team,” she said. “We need to continue to move beyond the differences we have and work toward the things we have in common.”
She said the trail “is going to help every community along that trail to become successful.”
Read the full article from the Osage County News: Kansas hops aboard rail trail development as boost to tourism industry
Meeting notes from KRTC’s Clark Coan:
Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy held its annual meeting in Osage City on November 23 with over 60 people in attendance. Rusty spike awards were given to KDWPT and Governor Brownback for their outstanding support of the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Friend of the Trail awards were given to Richard Porter and Mike Kuhn who go beyond the call of duty in maintaining trail sections. Below are the highlights of the keynote address by Linda Craghead, Assistant Secretary of KDWPT:
- Everyone is a potential ally in trail-building. Stop preconceived notions of others and search for what we have in common. View everyone as a potential supporter of trails.
- Tourism is now the third largest industry in the Sunflower State.
- The key is to promote the Kansas experience (especially the Flint Hills). For example, 80% of Americans have never seen the Milky Way (except the candy bar). Many have never experienced the tallgrass prairie or farm life and are pleasantly surprised when they do.
- A Kansas Parks Foundation will be established soon. Large contributions from corporations, individuals and other entities will provide for its endowment. Some of the funds will be made available for trails.
- Governor Brownback would like to participate in a trail ride in June, possibly on National Trails Day.
- KDWPT Secretary Jennison has started riding the Shunga and Landon Trails with his family and this has led him to understand the significance of the Landon Trail and rail-trails in general.
- It may be possible to use a lease program to make abandoned (and not railbanked) railroad corridors available to the public. This is much like the “Walk-in Hunting Access hunting lease program where landowners are paid by KDWPT to open up their land for hunting by the public.
Consultants for the engineering firms hired for the $2.4 million FHNT project made brief presentations on the process for building the trail. There will be considerable opportunities for public input early next year. The goal is to have everything ready for construction by June with a set deadline by Sept. 2014.
Here are a few photos from the event, courtesy of “Oz Cavers”: