An inventory of the good, the bad and the ugly is being taken along the Kansas River from Junction City to the Missouri border.
"Nobody has any real good feel for what is going on in the river," said Laura Calwell, the Kansas riverkeeper, a nongovernmental advocate for the river. "This is just so we know what the river is like so when it changes we can record it."
Calwell and other river advocates from the group Friends of the Kaw have been surveying the river this summer. They are noting the locations of bridges, power lines, rock eddies and the condition of the bank vegetation.
Tuesday afternoon Calwell, R.J. Stephenson, of Tonganoxie, and Chip Farley, of Stilwell, completed a two-day canoe trip that began Monday at the Seward Avenue boat ramp in Topeka and ended at Lawrence's Riverfront Park.
That section of the river is one of the more pristine except near the Tecumseh and Lawrence power plants, Calwell said. The river's course through Topeka, however, passes by manmade rock levies and concrete floodwalls.
"It really isn't very attractive and the Topeka Riverfront Authority has a lot to do to beautify it," Calwell said.
Old car bodies were found in the river, mainly from the Maple Hill bridge to the Willard Bridge, five miles away.
"You see them interspersed along the river," Calwell said. "That used to be common for bank stabilization. You can't do that anymore."
An area of concern was a sandbar near Lecompton where about 100 tires had been dumped, she said.
"It is a place we can look at for cleanup and restoration," Calwell said.
Also near Lecompton, Calwell discovered a 100-foot-wide area where trees had been cleared on private property. She said that could affect bank stabilization. Information about the condition of vegetation along the river's banks will be passed on to Kelly Kindscher, associate scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey.
"It would be really nice to get some indication of how good the habitat is and how much acreage there is of nice, large, cottonwood riparian forests. That is important habitat for a lot of different animals and birds," Kindscher said.
The inventory was made possible because of $3,000 raised by Friends of the Kaw to help cover costs. A $2,500 grant from the Norcross Wildlife Foundation was used to purchase a camera with a built-in Global Positioning System to record information about the pictures that were taken.
On Oct. 19-21 Calwell will survey the river from Lawrence to Edwardsville. It is the only section that has not yet been inventoried. Information about the inventory will be put on the Friends of the Kaw Web site next year. The Web site will be revamped and move from kansasriver.com to kansasriver.org.