Archive for Saturday, October 26, 2013

Despite planned construction, wetlands advocates stay strong

October 26, 2013


As the chilly October air blew colorful leaves into the swampy waters of the Wakarusa Wetlands, a handful of environmental activists huddled Saturday afternoon at the Baker Wetlands entrance on 31st Street for “Occupy the Wakarusa Wetlands.”

After the September announcement that the South Lawrence Trafficway construction would begin this fall, Wetlands advocates have been torn. Since the 1990s, many have fought against the project to connect the South Lawrence Trafficway from Iowa Street to Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence.

But this weekend wasn’t about protesting. Occupy organizer Brian Sultana said the meeting was called to encourage community members to come out to the area to bridge the common disconnect from Wetlands’ importance.

“Hearing about the wetlands and being here are two different things,” Sultana said. “Some people say, ‘big deal, it’s a swamp,’ but being here, you see the natural ecology and the different characteristics of the wildlife. It's beautiful.”

Though they hate to admit it, there isn't much wetlands advocates can do to stop the construction. Occupy attendee and longtime wetlands preservation activist Mike Caren said the only thing left to do is to admire the region while it’s here and preserve the memories of times past.

“If the story behind the wetlands is lost,” Caren said, “the highway has won.”

For Lawrence resident Jeanette Kekahbah, the wetlands are filled with memories: snowball fights on the boardwalk, strolling the walking path with her children and quiet moments watching wildlife at peace.

Kekahbah said the news that the construction would officially begin stung deeply.

“It hurts. It feels like this hole inside me and it’s one of those bad news things you can’t accept,” Kekahbah said. “All we can do to help is to preserve the memories of this place.”


Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 1 month ago

well as for me, i don't need you to tell me about understanding, respect, rights or behavior. i have always wanted the slt built also. with the aforementioned aspects paving the way. but the money trail prevailed and the majority is still 99% getting shafted. btw, we live in a republic not a democracy. have a nice day.

Bob-RJ Burkhart 4 years, 1 month ago

Kevin - Great framing question ... Both KDOT Legal Counsel and our legislature exercised willful blindness (criminal negligence?) by circumventing 1978 KSC "Golden Case" Ruling and by compromising the original 1958 Quit Claim Deed (DGCO Book 203 / Page 575) conditions ...

This conveyance is subject to the conditions that:

  1. The grantee shall use the above-described property for school AND other public purposes only.

  2. The grantee shall make the above-described property available to Indians and non-Indians on the same terms, unless otherwise approved by the (USA) Secretary of the Interior.

FOK-KAWS_LWW-Map showing SLT-HazMat Spill Impact Zones by Friends of the Kaw / Kansas Alliance of Wetlands & Streams / Lower Wakarusa Watershed

FOK-KAWS_LWW-Map showing SLT-HazMat Spill Impact Zones by Friends of the Kaw / Kansas Alliance of Wetlands & Streams / Lower Wakarusa Watershed by Bob-RJ Burkhart

Bob-RJ Burkhart 4 years, 1 month ago

Discover EarthSea-Keeping influence of Monarch Watch EcoChallenge (Citizen Science & Service Learning) via

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