Archive for Monday, May 30, 2011

Increasing Flint Hills tourism will take cooperation of property owners, officials say

May 30, 2011


Gov. Sam Brownback speaks about tourism in the Flint Hills, wind farm controversy in Cowley County

Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday speaks about the attraction of the Flint Hills and also comments about the recent controversy in Cowley County, where officials there have said Brownback's expansion of a wind-farm free zone eliminated a potential wind project. Brownback denies the assertion, saying that the project wasn't going to happen anyway. The comments were made during the governor's summit on the Flint Hills. Enlarge video

Gov. Sam Brownback says he wants more tourism and outdoor opportunities in Kansas but doesn’t want the government to pay for it.

With the beautiful backdrop of the Flint Hills behind him, Brownback recently said the area is ready to “pop” for tourists looking for the next big thing.

He said he wants hiking, biking and horseback riding trails with easy access. He envisions folks in Wichita hitching up a horse trailer and being in the saddle within 30 minutes, enjoying the rolling hills and Tallgrass Prairie.

“They’ll have this kind of experience where they are on hilltops and they’re looking over vistas, and seeing cattle and no people,” Brownback said during a break at his Flint Hills tourism economic summit this month near Elmdale.

But, he said, “You have to do it the Kansas way, which is not the government purchasing the land.”

The Kansas way has produced the lowest percentage of public lands of any state in the nation.

Kansas Wildlife and Parks Secretary Robin Jennison said access to land is a challenge when trying to lure tourists to experience the outdoors of the state.

“Landowners must be involved,” Jennison said. “The department stands ready to work with landowners to develop a strategy that works for all of us.”

Brownback said he would like to see easements being purchased from private property owners so that a person could come to a certain point on a certain date and experience the great outdoors.

The state does have programs where it leases private land and sites for hunting and fishing. The Walk-In Hunting Access program costs about $2.8 million per year, and the Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitat program costs about $177,000 during the current year to open privately owned fishing areas, according to the Wildlife and Parks Department.

Both programs are funded through federal funds — excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment distributed to states — and fee funds from the sale of licenses and permits, the agency said.

But Tom Warner, a professor at Kansas State University, who has been working for several years on putting together equestrian trails in the Flint Hills, agrees with Brownback that the key to unlocking the region’s potential is working with private landowners.

Warner said he believes the Flint Hills are about to take off.

“Horseback riders would come from around the world to ride in the Flint Hills,” he said. “This could be a very successful operation.”

Horseback riding is one of the fastest growing forms of recreation in the country, and private landowners in the Flint Hills are warming to the idea of marketing what they have as a way to keep the land in their families for their children and grandchildren, he said.

“The Flint Hills are gorgeous and deserve to be preserved,” said Warner. “It’s in the hands of private landowners, and only if private landowners see an economic return to stay where they are and keep it the way it is, will they do that.”

He said some ranchers will start trails next spring with guided tours, and he expected that to generate more enthusiasm. “If you know horse people, this is their lives. They spend money and they want to ride,” he said. “They are always looking for a place to ride.”


cowboy 6 years, 10 months ago

“Horseback riders would come from around the world to ride in the Flint Hills,” he said. “This could be a very successful operation.”

Horseback riding is one of the fastest growing forms of recreation in the country, "

These are two of the most asinine statements I have read recently. Number one horse people cannot bring their horses from around the world. Number two , the horse market is so down due to the economy that there are few new riders being created.

Both are completely false statements. But this does sound like a preamble to funneling taxpayer funds to private land owners.

Now I love horses and would take mine to the flint hills but I'm not buying this for one minute and the state has shown little support for horse trails.

notanota 6 years, 10 months ago

"But this does sound like a preamble to funneling taxpayer funds to private land owners." Ding, ding, ding.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 10 months ago

According to Brownback, the "Kansas way" isn't to buy's to buy easements to land. So, yeah, sounds like you're right.

TopJayhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

Remember Sebelious started this crap by saying the Flint Hills IS a destination for vacationers from around the world. Now that is just a big a load as Gov. Sam's statement. It is all just a ploy to keep wind generation out of the hills, which of course is one of the best uses for the hills.

Stupid then, Stupid now

Todd Hiatt 6 years, 10 months ago

“Landowners must be involved,” Jennison said. “The department stands ready to work with landowners to develop a strategy that works for all of us.”

Absolutely meaningless.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 10 months ago

Jobs for horses, not for people. Brownback 2014.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 10 months ago

But, remember...Brownback considers people bringing their horses 30 minutes from Wichita as "tourists" so, in his fantasy world, anything is possible.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 10 months ago

I am wondering how many people that live in Wichita own horses. I've been there several times, and I've never seen a single horse there.

TopJayhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

Sebilious had the idea first. Let's give her some credit too.

notanota 6 years, 10 months ago

So are these flocks of tourists that are going to go to private property and not see any people in spite of being in flocks going to travel there by horseback from around the world (poor exhausted horses), or do we actually have some sort of transportation plan to get them there?

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 10 months ago

The night life in some of the motels can be rather interesting.

blindrabbit 6 years, 10 months ago

"30 minutes from Wichita"; the real horses from Wichita are the horses arses named Koch! Smilin Sam is kissing their hinney's as financial base to his future political aspirations.

Regardless, I wish there was more public assess to the Flint Hills!

Bill Getz 6 years, 10 months ago

Notice Brownback's use of the phrase "The Kansas Way." This is not an historical judgment on a state whose political traditions are tied to Unionism, Populism and Moderate Republicanism; this is a slogan for his presidential run in 2016. One hopes it may go the way of Mitt Romney's "Massachusetts Way" before it hit the fan with the tea-baggers on health care and make his nomination unlikely. Except for the predictable Idiot Right, one hopes nobody will have much of a taste for the species of Clerico-Fascism which is Sam's stock in trade by then. BG

deec 6 years, 10 months ago

ignati5, I always enjoy your posts for their elegant use of language.

voevoda 6 years, 10 months ago

Can horseback riding really become the industry that will be the engine of economic productivity in the Flint Hills? Governor Brownback seems to imagine that lots of Wichita families own horses and consequently horseback riding will generate lots of business. How many Wichitans actually own horses? Somehow I think that wind energy would be a whole more reliable as an economic base, in addition to cattle raising, but Brownback nixed it. His policies in general--what he approves and what he disapproves--seem to have no consistency whatsoever.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 10 months ago

How much do you think a couple of normal upper middle class gents from NY would pay to hunt Western Kansas? How much would they pay to ride horses, and hunt deer on 500 acres? I actually had somebody guess 50 bucks. More like 100 times that.

We develop a 100 or 150 mile trail for horses/camping/wagons tourists will beat down our doors. (you can do this by circular routes) Talk about art development, music, bars, hotels, campground parties, yeeeehaaa.

Won a lot of 20 buck bets on this one. Tourists love Kansas. Kansans are our worst enemy. Open up some of the huge ponds we call lakes for private development and see what happens.

I truly believe most of us vastly underestimate the tourist power our state has.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 10 months ago

Brownback is talking about the Flint Hills. He is not talking about western Kansas.

question4u 6 years, 10 months ago

Tourists do pay thousands to ride horses and hunt deer in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho Montana, Utah, New Mexico and other states with scenery and well-known tourist attractions. Land owners in Kansas have always had the opportunity to try to compete with those states for tourist dollars. Now it turns out that all they had to do was build trails and the tourists would forget about those other states and flood into the Flint Hills?

George_Braziller 6 years, 10 months ago

Oh Sammy, Sammy, Sammy. You continue to amaze me at how clueless you really are.

riverdrifter 6 years, 10 months ago

A form of WIHA for rich, absentee flint hills landowners? They won't go for it. This is much ado about not much.

tolawdjk 6 years, 10 months ago

Every landowner now has had the existing opportunity to open thier land to tourists, on foot and horse. Why is this plan going to work where history has said no one is interested?

somebodynew 6 years, 10 months ago

Can you say "economic incentives"???? A new form of farm aid, or just tax dollars for "easements" on property.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 10 months ago

Kansas lacks public land that all can visit, use trails for, and picnic. Horse owners aren't a viable source of tourism. There should be trails all across Kansas that people could walk and bike on, just as in several European countries. Then people would come to Kansas from all over the United States and other countries.

But it would require a mentality of welcoming people -- which many people, especially in rural areas (even though they would benefit so much from tourists coming) don't have.

I would like to see a map drawn up of possible trails across Kansas, right now just for the fun of it, to see what is possible.

In the Bay Area (San Francisco), progress is being made on trails to encircle the entire bay. Why couldn't Kansas equal that for the plains and prairie, which is so beautiful?


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