What’s Happening on the Kansas River?
It has been a busy summer for the 2012 list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®! One of our partners fighting for the Kansas River (#10 on this year’s list) sent us an update (below). Thank you, Laura Calwell, who is the Kansas Riverkeeper for Friends of the Kaw!
This has been a really eventful year for Friends of the Kaw and the Kansas River. The Kaw made national attention for being listed as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® for 2012 due to proposed expansion of commercial mining for sand.
This year also had great positive news when the Kansas River Water Trail was designated as one of ten outstanding recreational rivers and inducted into the National Water Trail System.
Does expanding sand dredging on a National Recreational Water Trail make sense to you?
First, I’ll provide an update on the expansion of sand dredging proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in November 2011—
Chad Lamer, Friends of the Kaw’s president, and I met with representatives of the USACE in August to discuss the current status of this proposal. The USACE confirmed that the proposed expansion of dredging was requested by the dredging industry, but they were given no guarantee that it would be approved.
To comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations, the USACE needs to do an Environmental Assessment (EA) before they make a decision on expanding dredging. The Assessment will determine if a new Environmental Impact Statement needs to be done. The Assessment will be made available to the public for comment, and there will be a public meeting for further input.
The USACE estimates that this process will take at least 6 months, so they will temporarily extend current dredging permits with several exceptions. Recent information from the 2011 survey of the river has led to two dredge sites below Lawrence near Mud Creek to be asked to leave the river on January 1, 2013, because of unacceptable riverbed degradation. Penny’s Concrete, one of the affected companies, is currently applying to Douglas County for a conditional use permit for a new pit mine just south of their current in-river dredge operation.
Now for the more uplifting news—
My husband Mike and I attended the ceremony in Manhattan, Kansas, on July 14, 2012, officially designating our river into the National Water Trail System. Both Governor Brownback and Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, both recognized Friends of the Kaw for our vision and hard work in assisting communities in building access ramps to the Kaw. This was a RED LETTER DAY for both the Kaw and our organization!