Bach to Newsletter Main
Surface Transportation In The 21st Century
Prospects for improved rail transportation in Kansas City, Kansas, and Missouri
by Wayne Sangster
In the previous installment of this series it was said that rail transit should be aggressively sought. This time the status of projects in the Greater Kansas City area and the future of passenger rail service in Kansas and Missouri will be examined. In the KC area two projects are underway, one on each side of the state line.
In Missouri the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority has been pursuing light rail for many years. In January of 1996 it gave its final approval to the study that determined the best route for a new system, the first phase of which will extend from the River Market area through Downtown KC, Crown Center, the Country Club Plaza, and on to 51st and Brookside. Preliminary engineering work is underway, but the big hurdle will be getting the $200 million needed for the first phase. Eventually this line would be extended south to I-435. Other light-rail legs would extend from downtown along Watkins Drive to I-435, from downtown to KCI Airport, and from downtown to the Truman Sports Complex.
In Kansas Johnson County is conducting a Commuter Rail Major Investment Study (MIS) for a route along I-35 from Olathe to downtown Kansas City, MO (in the Union Station vicinity). This would be rail passenger service utilizing the present (with some augmentation) Burlington Northern & Santa Fe rails which more or less parallel I-35. The I-35 corridor has had rapid growth (6 percent annually between 1991 and 1994) and further upgrading of I-35 to handle the expected increase in traffic volume is not deemed feasible. The second phase of the three-phase MIS will be completed in 1997. This phase will include environmental issues, rider-ship projections, cost projections, schedules, and station locations (typically 3 to 5 miles apart).
In addition to carrying commuters from Johnson County to work downtown, this project could also allow the so-called "reverse commute" of urban-core residents to jobs in the suburbs. Employers in Johnson County continue to face a growing labor deficit, making this a high priority item. Also, the Science City at Union Station project now underway is a potential destination attraction. Trainloads of school children could learn the benefits and enjoy the mystique of train travel as they speed to and from Science City. While there they would be able to visit other locations in downtown KC.
We urge readers to send comments and letters supporting this commuter rail project to:
Representative Vince Snowbarger Representative Bud Shuster, Chairman
United States House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
509 Cannon House Office Building United States House of Representatives
Washington DC 20515 2188 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
These two projects would get Kansas City started in providing additional alternatives to one-person-in-a-car highway commuting. It would make the area more attractive to convention-goers, transplantees from areas like Chicago, New York, and Boston (where extensive rail commuting has been possible for a long time), and current residents who prefer train travel to buses and automobiles. They would be great for the environmentone person using mass transit instead of driving to work alone saves on the average 200 gallons of gasoline a year (each gallon contributes 20 lbs. of harmful pollutants to our environment). Driving to work alone is more expensive than one might thinka ten-mile round trip costs almost $9.00 per day. In other parts of the world people arent wedded to their cars like we are in the U.S. Over 70 percent of the million people who commute into London every day do so by rail.
On the intercity rail scene, even though Amtrak is continually struggling for its existence the Missouri-Kansas Rail Passenger Coalition (MOKSRAIL) is going on the offensive (often said to be the best defense) and has the following vision for the future of passenger rail service in Missouri and Kansas:
This may seem pie-in-the-sky now, but in five or ten years the prospects for intercity rail service could be significantly brighter if the energy situation tightens and/or a series of hot years makes reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) a higher priority item. For more about MOKSRAIL, a group of rail passengers working for balanced transportation systems in Missouri and Kansas, call Mike Klug at (816) 361-1366 or Wayne Copple at (816) 931-0121, or write them at P.O. Box 411192, Kansas City MO 64141. Let your representatives in the U.S. Congress know that you want them to support the dedication of ½ cent of fuel taxes to Amtrak (see the last issue of Planet Kansas, p. 6). Senator Sam Brownback wants to "privatize" Amtrak. (Maybe if they "privatized" I-35 between Olathe and downtown KC the BNSF commuter rail project would get a boost.)
Back to Table of Contents
Elections (for us) Just Around the Corner
Do You Have the Right Stuff?
Election time for the Sierra Club is here, at least in Kansas. Now is when we begin the process. First we must generate a nominating committee on both the Chapter (state) and Group (local) levels. This nominating committee then looks around its membership to determine who among its activists or vocal members is a good strong candidate to have the right stuff.
What stuff? The right stuff. The stuff that makes the person either a strong leader or a strong doer, sometimes both. In our case, the environmentalist's case, the primary quality in that stuff is tenacity. When I look at our primo leaders in the Kansas Chapter, what sets them apart is a kind of tenacity. It is already a given that they are staunch believers in the concept of protecting the environment. Many of us believe in the environment, but few of us act.
The second quality is that this tenacious and staunch believer just can't stand it if something doesn't get done or done well enough. This also leads many to burn-out. We can't stand it right up to the point where we can't stand it any more that is, we can't stand it that no one helps or that we're all alone or that no one wants to talk to us anymore. I guess the successful right stuffer also knows how to pace his/herself and knows where the limits are knows how to manage their commitments.
Oh, yea. The elections. Well, it boils down to this. Don't wait for the nominating committee to call you. Talented, dedicated folks will always find a place in the Sierra Club. Call your Chair and tell him/her that you've got what it takes to make a difference. Unless enlightenment is just around the corner, we will always have an aching need for just one more (or twenty more) shoulders to push against the wheel
Back to Table of Contents
Sierra Club Decries New Hog Factory Invasion
Nation's Largest Hog Producer Forges Ahead in Hodgeman County Despite Vote of the People
By Craig Volland
The Kansas Chapter of the Sierra Club, along with Stewards of the Land, the Kansas Rural Center, the Kansas Natural Resources Council, the Kansas Farmers Union and United We Stand, America-Kansas, sponsored news conferences in Topeka and Wichita on July 2, 1997 to focus attention on new efforts to build huge hog factories in Western Kansas. The news release is excerpted below:
"KDHE's issuance of a draft permit to Murphy Farms, the country's largest hog producer, for a huge facility in Hodgeman County, set off alarm bells this week among rural citizens and a coalition of farm and environmental groups concerned with what appears to be a major new effort to site large factory hog farms in Western Kansas. Murphy Farms appears to be moving forward in Hodgeman County despite a vote of the citizens in April banning corporate hog farms. The Hodgeman County situation suggests that the citizen referendum, the last line of defense, may not be sufficient in the State of Kansas.
Concerned citizens from impacted counties, and the coalition gathered on Wednesday to describe new proposals for factory hog farms in at least seven Kansas Counties. This new wave of activity is occurring at a time when efforts to tighten environmental regulations and improve permit oversight are almost at a standstill. The Kansas Pork Producers Council has declined to cooperate with the Kansas State University Lagoon Research Project, and the Governor's request for 9 additional positions in KDHE's ag permitting section was ignored by the state legislature in the past session. The coalition appealed to the Governor to take four actions:
1. Defend the citizens' right to decide whether to allow large-scale hog factories in their county.
2. Declare a moratorium on permitting new facilities until credible new regulations are in place. Have KDHE assess technology to eliminate the odor problem in new and existing facilities.
3. Initiate a cumulative environmental impact assessment to account for the sum total of effects for such a large scale industry moving into the state;
4. Spell out his views on the possibility that Kansas will become the new hog capital of the nation now that North Carolina is in the process of placing a moratorium on new facilities. What are the impacts on Kansas image, tourism and the ability to attract high tech industry?"
The coalition also asked the Governor to listen to the people of Western Kansas noting that, since the passage of the 1994 law providing for a citizens referendum on corporate hog farms, 34,602 citizens have voted no and only 13,584 have voted yes in 19 counties where such votes have been held.
The news conference received widespread coverage. Richard Ford and former Hodgeman County Commissioner, Lewis Webster who have led the battle against the proposed 14,000 animal, confined feeding operation, said they received calls from North Carolina and Texas.
A spokesperson for Murphy Farms told the Wichita Eagle that the company's policy is not to go where it is not wanted. However, in this case they intend to go forward because they were invited to Hodgeman County and had already spent money to develop a farm there when the vote occurred. They also said that, as a family farm, they are not bound by the vote. Lewis Webster responded that the 1994 county commission resolution approving corporate farming was never valid because inadequate public notice was given. He noted that citizens knew very well that the April 1, 1997 referendum was about corporate hog farming in general and the proposed Murphy Farms facility in particular. The Sierra Club is currently helping Hodgeman County citizens challenge the claim that Murphy Farms, Inc. qualifies as a family farm in the State of Kansas.
Murphy Farms, Inc. is considering other sites in Ness, Rush, and Lane counties. It is registered as a North Carolina corporation and is by far, the nation's largest hog producer. No Murphy family members reside in the state. If Murphy Farms, Inc. gains entry into Kansas as a family farm, then the Kansas Legislature will have perpetrated a cruel hoax on the people of Western Kansas when they supposedly granted the local option in 1994. Meanwhile Seaboard Farms, Inc., which presently is producing up to one million hogs per year in four counties in the southwest corner of Kansas, is planning a major expansion in nearby Seward and Meade Counties. Citizens in both counties are asking their commissioners to rescind resolutions allowing corporate farming.
On July 11, Kansas Chapter Legislative Director Charles Benjamin appeared on public television with the new KDHE Secretary, Gary Mitchell. Mitchell told Charles that the Kansas Pork Producers Council was now willing to cooperate with the Kansas State University lagoon research project. However, we are told that their cooperation was gained by eliminating the effort to examine an existing lagoon in the field. Only a new lagoon will be tested. The director of the project also told reporters that it would take five years to obtain definitive data on seepage. This means that the lagoon research project will not resolve our concerns about the 40+ lagoons built by Seaboard Farms, Inc. in the past three years. Last October the Chapter issued a report showing that the seepage rate had not been properly documented in a number of these units. Opposition to industrialized hog factories is nationwide. The Clean Water Network, a coalition of large, national environmental groups in cooperation with dozens of rural, grassroots groups, recently initiated a project to address the environmental damage caused by factory hog farms and other confined animal feeding facilities. Opposition derives primarily from noxious odors and the threat such huge concentrations of waste pose to surface and ground waters. However, family farm advocates, especially the National Farmers Union, also object to the way such poorly regulated facilities present unfair competition to smaller, diversified farm operations that do not present serious environmental problems. Finally, the Humane Society of the United States, with its "Eating with a Conscious" campaign, and the Humane Farming Association are leading the charge against what many consider inhumane treatment of pigs in these facilities. The cramming of extremely large numbers of hapless animals into small spaces, without access to sun and bedding, is inherent in the design of confined hog factories. In the long run, it is this latter consideration that will likely lead to the downfall of this industry.
Back to Table of Contents
Environmental View In The Mainstream of Johnson County
by Diane Stewart, Kanza Group
I had the privilege and pleasure of being a member of the Johnson County Citizens' Visioning Committee (JCCVC) the past year and a half. I was appointed as a representative of the Sierra Club to present the viewpoint of the environmental community. The appointment came shortly after the defeat of the proposed 21st Century Parkway, which we actively opposed. As environmental activists, we are interested in local growth and development issues because we believe that appropriate planning is essential to environmental protection. Johnson County is the largest and fastest growing county in Kansas, so we were pleased to participate in the planning process.
As a lifelong county resident, I have long been concerned about the changes that rapid population growth and its ensuing development have wrought on our county, and have been involved in neighborhood preservation efforts in northern Overland Park. Most Sierra Club members believe that the best way to protect our natural resources is to slow down the suburban sprawl that eats up our countryside. This includes preserving older commercial and residential areas while encouraging infill development. Consequently, we are concerned about the pace and pattern of growth, air and water quality, transportation and land use planning. It appears that many Johnson County residents share our concerns, and that our viewpoint reflects mainstream attitudes.
The results of the JCCVC survey, in which over one thousand randomly selected residents responded, showed their concerns about the effects of sprawl. When asked what they liked least about living in Johnson County, "growing too fast" and "traffic congestion" were the second and third responses after "taxes". When asked what expanded or new service the County should offer by the year 2020, the number one response was "neighborhood rehabilitation", and the second was "public transportation". Respondents listed "preserving open space" as the number one major improvement that Johnson County should work on during the next 20 years.
In addition to the survey, the JCCVC invited panels of experts to discuss key issues with us, and we held two community forums. We then synthesized all this input and made our own recommendations to the BOCC. Overall, our recommendations support well-managed growth, adherence to the comprehensive plan as opposed to leapfrog development, and preservation of open spaces, parks and recreation areas. Since a well-educated public makes wise choices, we suggested ways to increase public education about environmental issues, including the creation of an Environmental Advisory Council.
There was little support for a new freeway in the southern or western part of the county, and we recommended that we accommodate increasing traffic demand by utilizing the existing arterial system. Support for public transportation was strong, as was the need to maintain and upgrade aging infrastructure. Neighborhood preservation also received high marks to prevent crime and protect property values.
The input we received at the community forums reflected the interest many people have in neighborhoods that are pedestrian-friendly and near public transit. The ideal neighborhood they described had a sense of community, and included mixed-use development with service businesses and a variety of housing options. This follows the national trend called New Urbanism or transit-oriented development.
I'm very pleased with the results of the JCCVC process, and am hopeful that Johnson County will find new ways to have growth with a green attitude in the future. When I think of where we were about two years ago, fighting the proposed "porkway", and where we are now, it is like a dream come true. Believe me, we can make a difference.
Back to Table of Contents
Kansas Department Of Wildlife 7 Parks Watch
by DeEtte Huffman
WILD IS IN. The University of Kansas carried out a study of benefits of state parks and the first general conclusion from the surveys taken were that the people of Kansas love Kansas state parks; however, although they like the parks the way they are they think they are kept too neat. Most Sierrans would agree with that.
A telephone survey of 2,000 households in Kansas was done by dividing into five different groups of 400. On-site surveys were conducted at Clinton, El Dorado, Elk City, Glen, and Scott State Parks, with 1,360 responses. An initial conclusion to this survey is that 85.4% thought that Kansas state government should provide a state park system. Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks (KDWP) concluded that these results and those from additional questions indicate very strong support for state parks.
Another question reviewed involved giving a choice between improving the current park system by increasing taxes (by $5, $10, $20, $50, or $100) or keeping the current park system as it is with no improvements. A majority of 52.3% was willing to pay an additional $10 on taxes to improve state parks (102 people were willing to pay $100). The final question addressed the willingness to pay an additional percentage (25%, 33-1/3%, 50%, 100%, or 150%) in user fees to finance the parks system. With less than 50% support on an increase for user fees, it was determined that the people of Kansas would rather pay more taxes to support state parks. While 34.5% of Kansans visit state parks, these random surveys were not directed to just park users. They further learned that 44.7% wanted improved lodging in the parks while 43.4% did not, and 28.2% wanted a convention center while 58.9% did not.
A nationwide survey sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that fishing, hunting, bird watching and other wildlife-related recreation continue to be a cornerstone of the American way of life, as 77 million adults enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation in 1996. The survey, which has been conducted every five years since 1955, was done for the U.S. Fish & Wilflife Service by the Census Bureau. As part of the survey, the Census Bureau initially screened 80,000 households. From this, the bureau chose 28,000 sportsmen and -women and 14,400 non-consumptive participants 16 years and older for detailed surveys throughout the year.
The preliminary results of the 1996 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation also showed that wildlife remains a remarkable force for economic growth and job creation. Americans spent $104 billion on wildlife-related recreation during the year, representing 1.4% of the national economy. By comparison, Americans spent $81 billion on new cars during the year.
More than 39 million Americans 16 and older either hunted or fished in 1996 while 63 million enjoyed watching wildlife. In all, 40% of the adult population enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation.
Fishing continues to be one of Americas favorite pastimes. In 1996, 35.2 million people 16 years and older fished or 18% of the adult population. To do so, they spent $38.1 billion, or $1,080 each on the average, during the year. Significantly, the number of days anglers fished during 1996 rose 22% over 1991 to 624 million. More than 80% of fishing was in freshwater.
Fourteen million people 16 years and older hunted in 1996, and the total number of days they spent hunting rose 8% in 1996 to 256 million. Expenditures rose even more dramatically, up 47% to $20.9 billion. Hunters spent $1,492 each on average for the year.
Nearly 63 million Americans 16 years and older reported observing, photographing or feeding wildlife in 1996. This was 17% fewer people than reported in 1991, which is curious. Nevertheless, expenditures on these activities rose 27%. Wildlife watchers spent $31 billion in 1996. Feeding birds and other wildlife was by far the most popular activity, with 54.1 million participants. It seems that Americans are spending a lot on birdfeed.
The final national report will be available in November. State-by-state reports will be released from November through March 1998.
Back to Table of Contents
Kaw River Day-Floats
Sept. 20-21 / Oct. 4-5
by: T. J. Hittle
Join us on a fun family event, floating the Kaw River this fall!! The Friends of the Kaw, Kansas Canoe Association, Flint Hills Sierra Club, and the Northern Flint Hills Audubon invite you, your family, and all interested Kansas Legislators on the 3rd Annual Kaw River Float to paddle the Kansas River September 20th, 21st, Oct. 4th, and Oct 5th.
During the Rolling Down the River Festival, organized by the Kaw Valley Heritage Alliance, the Kaw River Day-Floats will enable the public to travel down and experience the beauty of our Kansas River. The Kaw River Day-floats, ranging from 9-12 miles on the Kansas River, will feature a limited number of canoes, paddles, and PFDs available to reserve & rent. Bus shuttles back from the take-outs are included each day. You may also bring your own canoe and save the rental cost.
In January of 1998, the Kansas Legislature will be presented the results of the Kansas River Recreation Study. This is a five agency study that will report on the need for river access, a user survey, a landowner survey, and an abbreviated economic study on Recreational Impacts for the Kansas River.
At the most recent meeting in Concordia, KS., the Kansas Water Authority has again approved funding requests for river accesses on the Kansas River. So, unless the funding gets removed (as it was in 96) by powerful anti-tourism and anti-recreation forces in the Legislature, we may be back on for funding river accesses in FY 99. This money comes from the $16 million Water Plan Fund. The Water Plan Fund comes from a number of sources that include a substantial amount of urban resources. Recreation has long been part of the Water Plan.
Everyone in Kansas stands to benefit from this move to promote access to our Kansas River. Again, we will be asking for support from the Sierra Club and other recreation and natural resource groups to get this through the Legislative process.
The September floats will be held on the upper Kaw River, near Manhattan, KS. The October floats will be held on the Kaw River, near Lawrence, KS. Camping is available at Tuttle Creek Reservoir during the Manhattan floats and at Clinton Reservoir during the Lawrence floats. Posters and Registration forms outlining the float details, meeting locations, cost, are available at most area outdoor equipment dealers in Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Wichita, and Manhattan or from any Kansas Canoe Association member or by writing: T.J. Hittle, P.O. Box 83; Manhattan, KS. 66505-0083.
Registration forms and other details are also available to view and print out over the KANSAS PADDLER Home Page on the World Wide Web at: http://www.kansas.net/~tjhittle
Well see you all this Fall he Kaw River during the Rolling Down the River Festival!!
Back to Table of Contents
Back to Table of Contents
by Tom Thompson Kanza Group Chair
Summer is almost over, and school is about to start. People are either on vacation or looking at pictures of their vacation. Hopefully most of us have been able to escape into the great outdoors and have slides to share at our December Group meeting. My wife Mary and I are headed for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota and hope to catch a moose or a loon on film.
The Membership Committee has been working hard with the Outings Committee. Diane Stewart has been promoting our membership by working with Jeff Peirce to write and distribute a brochure on upcoming outings. You may be seeing these at your favorite store or library. Get one, share it with a friend, and go on an outing. The members of these committees are to be commended for a great project. If anyone knows a good place to distribute either this brochure or the Planet Kansas, call me at 236-9161.
Our new Hospitality Chair, Karen Grotewohl, with the help of Steve Baru have developed a way to promote conservation and make the Kanza Group General meeting more interesting. The Most Ugly Mug Contest is now a regular event. Instead of relying on paper cups, members are encouraged to bring their own vessel from which to drink. The individual bringing the ugliest looking mug is recognized and wins a prize. So dig around in your cupboards, something has got to be bad.
The Joint Action Committee (Conservation, Population, Political, and Legislative) decided not to meet every month this summer but will return to action the first Thursday in September. Craig Volland is always busy and needs assistance, the next campaign season will soon begin, and Congress and the Kansas Legislature will be entering the pre-election sessions. Anyone wanting to get involved can call me at 236-9161 or come to the next Joint Action meeting at the Cedar-Roe Library in Roeland Park.
Back to Table of Contents
Flint Hills Group (Manhattan Area)
James E. Sherow, Chair, (913) 539-3162 (H),
(913) 532-0375 (W), email@example.com, 2821 Arbor Dr., Manhattan KS 66502
Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, Vice-Chair, Programs,
(913) 539-3162, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert Wilson, Conservation Chair, (913) 395-4242, email@example.com
Ruth Douglas Miller, Secretary and Treasurer,
(913) 537-7254, firstname.lastname@example.org
Iralee Barnard, Membership Chair, Chapter Delegate, (913) 949-2857, email@example.com
J. Scott Smith, Publicity, Newsletter Editor,
(913) 539-1973, firstname.lastname@example.org T.J. Hittle, Web Site Master, At-Large Member, (913) 539-7772, email@example.com
Kanza Group (Kansas City)
Tom Thompson*, Group Chair, Political Chair,
(913)-236-9161, 5001 Rock Creek Lane, Mission, KS 66205 3047
Jan McIntyre*, Vice-Chair, (913)-384-5911
Alan Colen*, Treasurer, Communications Chair
Wayne Sangster*, Secretary, (913)-362-5896
Craig Volland*, Conservation Chair, (913)-334-0556
Jim Horlacher*, Fundraising Chair, (913)-492-7818
Jeff Pierce*, Outings Chair, (913)-599-3966
Diane Stewart*, Membership Chair, Program Chair,
Carol Wagner*, Publicity Chair, (913)-831-1939
Bob Wilshire*, (913)- 441-2449
Craig Wolfe*, (913)-299-4443, (FX) 913-299-4441, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolyn Hogan, Legislative Chair, (913)-492-3639
Craig Lubow, Calendars, Population Chair,
* Executive Committee Member
Prairie Oaks Group
(Southern Sedgwick County)
Ray Cowin, Chair, (316) 788-3126 (H), 9857 S Hydraulic, Wichita, KS 67233-7211
Jack Shumard, Vice-Chair, Conservation Chair and Outings Chair, (316) 776-2564
Mary Heinrich, Secretary, (316) 788-2498
George Heinrich, Treasurer, (316) 788-2498
Dan Carpenter, Membership Chair, (316) 488-2762
Barbara Shumard, Communications Chair,
Prairie Rattlers Group (Hays area)
David Ebbert, Chair, (913) 754-3860
Dennis Johnson, Treasurer, (913) 628-3355
Ross Wichman, Outings Chair, (913) 726-3582 (H)
Gary Millhollen, Political Chair, (913) 628-1311
Southwind Group (Wichita)
Bill Skaer, Chair, (H) 316-683-4323, (W) 316-683-4641,
Tom Kniel, Vice Chair, Membership, Chapter Representative, (H) 316-744-1016, (W) 316-978-3240
Don Skokan, Secretary, (H) 316-744-0033
Larry Daggett, Treasurer, (H) 316-687-9557
Margaret Miller, Conservation Chair, (H) 316-686-2555
Vicki Skaer, Fundraising Chair, (H) 316-683-4323
Larry Ross, Outings Chair, Carrying Capacity,
DeEtte Huffman, Arkansas River Coalition Chair, Stream Team, (H) 316-685-7303
Gary Wright, Political Chair, (H) 316-684-8467
Wakarusa Group (Lawrence)
Steve Wharton, Chair, Treasurer, Chapter/Group Representative, (913) 842-9614, 2216 New Hampshire, Lawrence, KS 66046-3048
Carol Holstead, Secretary, Membership Chair,
Al Herring, Outings Chair, Program Chair, (913) 843-1571
Frank Norman, Political Chair, (913) 887-6775
Back to Table of Contents