Happy Valentine’s Day!

Give the Kaw a Valentine present by participating in Shop for Your Cause’s voting challenge!

sfyc-logoFriends of the Kaw is currently participating in a Shop for your Cause voting challenge. How does it work? It’s simple! Just visit the Voting Challenge page, select the “Non-Animal Shelter” category, choose Friends of the Kaw from the drop-down, and click Vote! The organization that receives the most votes by the end of the challenge will receive a $1,000 donation from Shop for your Cause. The challenge runs through March 31st and you can vote once a day, so set a reminder and vote away!

Here’s another good reason to bookmark Shop for your Cause:  If you shop online, you can choose to have a portion of your purchase price donated toward protecting the Kansas River. To get started, go to the Causes page and set Friends of the Kaw as your cause. Then go to the Shop page, find your store, and go shopping!

To find out more about how Shop for your Cause works, visit their FAQ page.

Friends of the Kaw News in Brief:

On Friday, January 31, 2014 Friends of the Kaw testified in front of the Senate Natural Resource Committee concerning Senate Bill 300.  This bill would raise the fee from $.15/ton to $.30/ton that sand dredging companies pay the state of Kansas for sand mined out of the Kansas River.  The bill is still in committee – watch for more news on this issue.

Friends of the Kaw is still waiting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Asssessment on Kansas River Dredging to be released on public notice.  The Corps also plans to hold a public meeting on this issue.  We’ll be sure to publize this process once it starts.

Raising Fees for Sand Dredgers

Come to a hearing on Senate Bill 300 (to raise the fees companies pay for sand dredged out of the Kaw) – January 30, 8:30am in Room 159-S at the state capitol.

Kaw Valley 3a
Since our inception in the early 1990’s, Friends of the Kaw has advocated that in-river sand and gravel operations move out of the river and on to appropriate land sites (pit mines) due to (a) irreparable harm done to the river’s channel, banks and ecosystem; (b) degradation of our drinking water quality; and (c) degradation to infrastructure such as public water intake supply systems and bridge structures.  This year we worked with Senator Marci Francisco to introduce a legislative bill to raise the fees that in-river dredging companies pay the state of Kansas from .15/ton to .30/ton.  Raising the fees for in-river dredging companies will be another incentive for these companies to move their operations from the river to pit mines in the Kansas River valley (see Lawrence Journal World article.) The hearing will be held for the Senate’s Natural Resource Committee on Thursday, January 30 at 8:30am in room 159-S at the state capitol in Topeka.

Pit mines are more expensive to locate because companies have to buy or lease the land that the pits are located on and these companies also have to go through a sometimes contentious local process to permit the pit mine operation. We consider the in-river dredging fees as a lease payment to the state of Kansas as the riverbed is public property. The current rate of .15/ton a is bargain for the in-river dredging companies.  Friends of the Kaw has been told that if in-river companies paid at a minimum a fee of .50/ton for sand dredged out of the Kansas River that it would be comparable to the cost of leasing or purchasing land for pit mines.  Doubling the fee to .30/ton, while not totally equalizing the difference in cost, would be an incentive for companies to move to pit mines and halt damage to the river’s bed, banks, habitat, and infrastructure. The Kansas River supplies drinking water to over 800,000 people and it is in the state’s best interest to protect the river from further degradation caused by in-river dredging.  The state of Kansas should not be subsidizing companies that harm the river when better alternatives (pit mines) exist.

The Kansas River has been commercially mined (dredged) for sand and gravel since the early 1900’s.  Past dredging activities are documented to have caused significant damage to riverbed, habitat, infrastructure and water quality.  The river through Topeka and between Lawrence and Kansas City have been dredged for many years and show significant impacts when compared to sections of the river that have never been dredged.  Weirs costing millions of dollars have been constructed to protect public drinking water intakes for both Topeka and WaterOne of Johnson County due to degradation of the river bed.  The Kaw power plant owned by Kansas City Board of Public Utilities has been put in cold storage because water intakes can only be used in high water events.

Happy Holidays from Friends of the Kaw!

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Message from the Kansas Riverkeeper

Dear  Friends,

In May of 2013, the Corps of Engineers (COE) closed four dredging permits between Lawrence and Eudora because of unacceptable erosion to the bed of the Kaw. Also, the COE has still not made a decision on the two-year-old proposal to approve or deny thirteen in-river sand dredging permits most with higher tonnage limits and lengthened stretches.  We’ll let you know when comments need to be submitted on a new Environmental Assessment (EA) on Kansas River Commercial Sand and Gravel Dredging.  Commercial sand and gravel dredging have seriously degraded the Kansas River and all operations should move to appropriately sited pit mines in the Kansas River valley.

On a more positive note, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism with the assistance of the National Park Service and Friends of the Kaw have continued to improve the Kansas River Water Trail, the second river designated into the National Water Trail System.  Look for the new Kansas River Trail Map at Kansas Visitor Centers (or we’ll be happy to send you one) and notice the new highway signs to many of the access ramps.

On September 26, 2013 over 100 people attended the Governor Brownback’s float from Wamego to Belvue.  The Belvue access ramp was dedicated after the float.  A new access ramp at the Maple Hill Bridge will hopefully be built in 2014.

Please send your tax-deductible gift today either by mail (FOK, P.O. Box 1612, Lawrence, KS 66044) or PayPal (link on right) to help us get these dredging operations out of the river. Over 800,000 Kansans depend on the Kaw for their drinking water, and the river is home to many native animals and plants.

Thank you for your continued support of Friends of the Kaw. Together we are protecting the Kaw for this and future generations.

Warm regards!

Laura Calwell, Kansas Riverkeeper

P.S. Your gift to Friends of the Kaw helps us keep dredging out of the river, report and follow up on pollution violations, advocate for reduction of stormwater pollution from both urban and rural areas, and demand enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Thank you!


Friends of the Kaw’s first priority is to physically monitor the river, report suspected pollution and mediate a solution.

  • Documentation and monitoring of sand dredging operations by visually monitoring dredge sites and communicating with the Corps of Engineers (COE) on two year old proposal to approve or deny 13 in-river dredging permits.

Pollution & Policy

  • Responded to twelve pollution reports including concrete dumping, sewage & oil spills in KCK; trash & medical waste dumping in Topeka; questionable irrigation practices; fish kill in Wamego and foam and algae in Lawrence.
  • Publicized sewage spill and problem with Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) in KCK & KCMO in May of 2013.
  • Worked with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and the Middle Kansas WRAPS to promote agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) on Soldier Creek.  Stakeholder groups of area farmers, ranchers and governmental agencies worked to set objectives and plan, promote and deliver workshops on BMPs including cover crops, tillage practices, and cedar tree revetments to stabilize banks from erosion
  • Kansas Riverkeeper is a member of the Governor’s River Recreation Committee charged with promoting the Kansas River National Water Trail and the Kansas Lower Republican Basin Advisory Committee representing recreation.

Our goal is to increase awareness of the Kaw as a drinking water source for 800,000 Kansans and access to the river.

  • Organized and led fifteen educational float trips introducing over 400 people to the beauty of the Kaw.
  • Constructed signage to highlight wetlands, and ways to curb stormwater pollution at RiverFest Park in De Soto.
  • Worked with the Kansas Department of Parks, Wildlife and Tourism and the National Park Service on promotion of the Kansas River Water Trail, to organize Governor’s Float from Wamego to Belvue on September 26, 2013, publish a Kansas River Trail Map and locate directional signs installed on highways to Kansas River Access Ramps.
  • Presented at over thirty educational outreach events at schools, outdoors shops, churches and community gatherings in the Kansas River valley, reaching over 7,500 people in the community.
  • Completed the access ramp and riverfront park in Belvue, KS and finalized plans for the Rossville access ramp at the Maple Hill Bridge – this will be the 21st ramp built on the Kaw. Friends of the Kaw is very close to achieving one of our main objectives: to facilitate and access ramp every 10 miles on the Kansas River.
  • Sponsored and participated in Concert for the Climate at Kaw Point featuring keynote speaker, Robert Kennedy, Jr.
  • Fundraising Events: River City Cook Off, Shawnee and Lawrence Catfish Fries, Wild & Scenic Film Festival, and the Annual Dinner and Silent Auction.
  • Redesigned KansasRiver.org and our stormwater page to be mobile compatible

Along the Kaw

Need a Holiday Gift Idea?

Consider “Along the Kaw”, a fabulous pictoral account of the Kaw from Junction City to Kansas City


Along the Kaw book cover








“Along the Kaw” by Craig Thompson is a beautiful book that pairs photos of the Kaw with quotes from folks who paddle, camp and enjoy this prairie river. The book starts with georgeous pictures of the Kaw through the Flint Hills and continues with photos taken down the river to Kaw Point where the Kaw joins the Missouri River.  For more information, how to order and also contact the author click here!