Archive for Friday, October 6, 2000

Rail-trail’s neighbors say it’s not fit for use

Weeds, broken fences make hiking difficult

October 6, 2000

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— The Flint Hills Nature Trail isn't fit for foot or bike traffic, neighbors of the old Missouri Pacific rail line say.

From Osawatomie to Herington, the line looks much like it did in the mid-1990s when the last train went through.

"We haven't been good neighbors, we haven't had the money to control weeds, fix fences. It would be nice if we could work together as a team..."

Bud Newell, former executive director and interim president of the Kansas Horseman Foundation board

The Kansas Horseman Foundation received the deed to the land in 1993 to turn it into the Flint Hills Nature Trail. But fences need repair, the old bridges need railings, ballast needs to be removed and the corridor is more of a weed haven than a foot path.

"It's a hazard," Bob Lowder said as he peered through one of the spaces between the ties of an old rail bridge near Admire. "Someone could get hurt."

The foundation said it hasn't had the money to develop the trail.

At the Allen farm owned by Bob and Lee Lowder, and at neighboring farms, hardly any work has been done to make the trail usable something the foundation promised.

"They haven't kept the brush down," Lee Lowder said of the 120-mile trail. "It's supposed to be a bike trail, but there are places you can't get a bike across."

Council Grove rancher Tom Moxley said the stretch of corridor on his property is covered with weeds, trees and a patch of marijuana someone planted in the secluded location.

"A Girl Scout troop did try to walk the trail a few years ago," Moxley said. "They couldn't finish because of the conditions. They ended up walking the roads. It will take a considerable amount of work to open it up."

Bud Newell, former executive director and interim president of the Kansas Horseman Foundation board, acknowledged the problems.

"We haven't been good neighbors, we haven't had the money to control weeds, fix fences," Newell said. "It would be nice if we could work together as a team to make this trail happen."

Newell and Charles Benjamin, present Kansas Horseman Foundation executive director and Sierra Club attorney, recently applied for tax exemption on the trail. They hope to use the savings and try to boost their volunteer base, to have the trail operational through Osage County by late spring.

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