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KDOT designates its 7th Scenic Byway


December 15, 2004 (04-166)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News Contact: Amy Link, KDOT, (785) 296-0288
Deborah Divine, Kansas Scenic Byways Program, (785) 827-3603/
1-800 684-6966

KDOT designates its 7th Scenic Byway

The "road less traveled" may soon carry more traffic as visitors to central Kansas look for opportunities to view wildlife.

Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Deb Miller has designated the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway, which winds through back roads in three counties in central Kansas. It is the seventh scenic byway to be designated in Kansas, and will have very distinct visual aspects.

"By featuring the nationally-recognized Wetlands, this byway showcases a scenic value unique to the state," Scott Shields, chairman of the Kansas Scenic Byways Committee said. "In addition, the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway will be the first byway to consist of mainly county roads."

The byway will begin about 5 miles west of Hoisington at the intersection of K-4 and U.S. 281. It heads east around Cheyenne Bottoms, where it then turns south onto Rural Service Road 980 through Barton and Stafford counties. When it reaches RS-1484 (directly east of K-19), the byway goes east around the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge into Reno County. Once it reaches the east end of the Refuge, the byway heads south for about 11 miles and then returns back west to U.S. 281.

The 75-mile byway provides a wealth of opportunities to view wildlife, and the Arkansas River Lowlands.

"The migratory birds are one of the most notable features of the Wetlands," Shields said. "Particularly, travelers may have the chance to see endangered birds like the Whooping Crane."

There are many migratory bird species that use the Wetlands as a resting point on their flights south in the fall, as well as on their return back north in the spring. Shields said these are the times that hunters and birdwatchers utilize the area the most. However, the byway will have great visual features for every season.

"One of the goals of the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway is to draw attention to the visual beauty of this part of the state," Shields said. "This byway will also provide a great opportunity for tourism, which hopefully will mean more people staying in hotels and frequenting restaurants in these communities."

Shields said KDOT and the local communities will begin working on a signage plan for the byway. He also expects that local communities, counties and agency partners involved with the nominating committee will now begin applying for federal grants to enhance the byway.

Those serving on the Wetlands and Wildlife Committee include: Boyd King (Chair), Hoisington, member of the Barton County Champion Community Tourism Committee; Cris Collier, Executive Director of the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau; Janet Crane, Barton County Financial/Economic Development Officer; Laurn Chiles, Stafford County Commissioner; Karl Grover, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; Dave Hilley, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife; Larry Sharp, Reno County Commissioner; Rob Penner, Ellinwood, The Nature Conservancy; Marilyn Hitz, Hudson, Friends of Quivira; and Paul Tschopp, Ellinwood, Barton County Tourism Development Task Force Chair.

People interested in nominating a road for Kansas scenic byway designation may obtain an application kit from Deborah Divine, Program Manager, at the Kansas Scenic Byways Clearinghouse, by calling 1-800-684-6966 or 785-827-3603, or by writing c/o Bucher, Willis & Ratliff Corporation, 609 West North Street, Salina, KS 67401.