Topeka The Kansas River dredging compromise would set aside 65 miles of river for recreation uses only, while opening other areas up for dredging.
Lawmakers were urged Thursday to approve a compromise that would divide the Kansas River between recreationists and sand dredgers, even though the plan apparently pleases no one and excites opposite furies among some Lawrence residents.
``This thing is a sham and ramrod,'' said Alan Mill, president of Lawrence Paper Co., who opposes the bill because it gives too much to canoers and other pleasure seekers while restricting sand dredging.
``I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but the recreational users of the river really got the short and dirty end of the stick in this so-called compromise bill,'' said canoer John M. Ducey of Lawrence, so upset about the dredging the bill would allow that he resigned in protest from the board of Friends of the Kaw, the Lawrence-based group that has been the chief political foe of the dredgers.
Ducey and Hill oppose House Bill 2925 for opposite reasons, agreeing only that the compromise goes too far one way or the other.
They are outnumbered by supporters of the bill who agree only that the proposal does not go far enough one way or the other.
``This is a compromise,'' Woody Moses, a lobbyist for the dredgers told members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, urging passage of the bill. ``We're giving up a lot. It will hurt our industry.''
``We're sick to our hearts that we couldn't do more to protect the river,'' said Dave Murphy of Shawnee, president of the Kansas Canoe Assn., also speaking in support of the bill. ``It is with sincere sorrow for the shortcomings of this bill that we ask you to pass it.''
``It must be a good compromise,'' said Sen. David Corbin the Towanda Republican who heads the committee, noting the seemingly universal displeasure it has generated. ``They say its a good deal when everybody walks away thinking they should have got more.''
The bill would ban dredging on 65 miles of the 170-mile river which runs from Junction City through Topeka and Lawrence to its confluence with the Missouri River in Kansas City.
Dredging would be banned from River Mile 51.8 to River Mile 72, a span of about 20 miles between the Bowersock Dam in Lawrence to a point near Grantville, which is west of Perry.
It also would be banned from River Mile 125 to River Mile 170, a 45-mile recreation-only segment from the river's headwaters at Junction City to a point near Wamego.
Dredging would be allowed in a segment between Lawrence and Topeka where it has previously been prohibited by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a clear gain for the dredging companies.
Environmentalists, for the first time, would see about one third of the river set aside solely for recreational use.
The Thursday hearing attracted an overflow crowd. Response was such that Corbin extended the hearing to Monday.
The compromise already has been approved by the House and is expected to receive Senate approval.
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