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National Recognition Sought for Three Kansas Scenic Byways


May 20, 2005 (05-110)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News Contact:  Stan Whitley, (785) 296-3585

National Recognition Sought for Three Kansas Scenic Byways

There's a blank spot in the center of the national scenic byway map of the U.S., but Kansas officials are hoping that will soon change.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller have forwarded three nominations of Kansas Scenic Byways to the National Scenic Byways Program for designation. If they are selected, the byways would be the first in Kansas to receive the national scenic byway designation.

The three nominated byways are: Flint Hills Scenic Byway on K-177 in Butler, Chase and Morris counties; Post Rock Scenic Byway on K-232 in Ellsworth, Lincoln and Russell counties; and Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway on K-4, K-156 and several county roads in Barton, Reno and Stafford counties.

"National scenic byway status represents prestige, pride and the opportunity to showcase byway communities," said Scott Shields, Kansas Scenic Byways Coordinator. "It provides a way to tell the story of our state and its scenic, cultural, historic and natural riches."

National byway status provides higher priority eligibility for federal scenic byway grant funds and more visitors to local communities translate to greater economic viability. The National Scenic Byway criteria require that the nominated route be of regional or national significance in terms of one of six possible intrinsic qualities: scenic, historic, cultural, natural, archeological or recreational.

The Flint Hills Scenic Byway has been nominated for its impressive scenic qualities. The byway is the pathway through the Tallgrass Prairie, the last large remnant of untouched prairie in North America. The byway extends from nationally historic Council Grove, stepping off point for the Santa Fe Trail, to Cassoday, the Prairie Chicken Capitol of Kansas. The Flint Hills Scenic Byway runs through the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Strong City and Cottonwood Falls.

The Post Rock Scenic Byway is not only scenic, it is also uniquely cultural, which is the intrinsic quality focused on its nomination. Set in the Post Rock country around Wilson Lake Reservoir, it showcases the limestone legacy as displayed in post rock fences and the architecture in Wilson and Lucas. Most significantly, the Post Rock Scenic Byway is the setting for Grassroots Art at its finest.

Civil War veteran Samuel P. Dinsmoor started it when he created his "Garden of Eden" from post rock logs (some 22 feet long) and concrete sculpture. The Grassroots Art Center in Lucas houses a collection of art by self-taught "primitive" artists who use media of pop can tabs, concrete and colored glass, chewing gum, and objects found in a city lake to make whimsical creations.

The Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway has been nominated based on its natural qualities. The byway focuses on the Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge wetlands, both being designated as Wetlands of International Importance. Cheyenne Bottoms is the most important migration point for shorebirds in North America attracting anywhere from 45 percent to 90 percent of North America's shorebirds each year. Unlike freshwater Cheyenne Bottoms, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is a saltwater marsh. During spring migration, Quivira is a staging area for over 500,000 birds.

There are currently 99 National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads in the U.S. New national designations will be announced in Washington in September.

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