Archives for June 2014

Kansas Riverkeeper Honored as River Hero


Margarita Diaz, Proyecto Fronterizo de Educación Ambiental A.C. (Mexico); Michael Taylor, Illinois Water Trailkeeper (IL); Jane Sherman, Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (RI); Joe Payne, Casco Baykeeper/Friends of Casco Bay (ME); Laura Calwell, Friends of the Kaw (KS)


Empowering communities throughout the Tijuana River Watershed, giving back as a tireless volunteer river trail steward in Illinois, developing national showcases of urban renewal in Rhode Island, improving water quality in Maine’s Casco Bay, and being a leading advocate for rivers in Kansas are just a few of the accomplishments of an extraordinary group of individuals who have dedicated themselves to protecting our most vital natural resource—water.

Since 2002, sixty-two individuals from around the U.S and world have been honored with this prestigious award.

“We couldn’t be more impressed than we are by the important work these individuals and their organizations are doing to make a meaningful impact on water resources around the nation”, said Nicole Silk, River Network President. “Their dedication to – and love of rivers and water- is what inspires us all.”

In addition, each year River Network celebrates one individual’s accomplishments with the James R. Compton River Achievement Award. This year’s honoree is Rebecca Wodder (Washington, DC). Rebecca is a nationally known environmental leader who has devoted her career to conservation causes, beginning with the first Earth Day in 1970, and as a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (WI) on environmental and energy issues. Most recently she served at the U.S. Department of the Interior as Senior Advisor to Secretary Ken Salazar, advancing river and watershed objectives. Rebecca was nominated by President Obama for the post of Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. She previously served as President of American Rivers from 1995-2011.

River Network hosted the 2014 River Heroes Award winners at a banquet during this year’s River Rally conference in Pittsburgh, PA May 30-June 2.

For details about the River Hero program, visit Nominations are now open for 2015 River Heroes.

About River Network
River Network is empowering a national watershed protection movement that includes more than 2,000 local, state and regional grassroots organizations whose primary mission is to protect and restore rivers and other waters that sustain the health of our country. For twenty-five years, River Network has worked closely with watershed protection groups from coast to coast – building the capacity of state and local organizations, assisting people grappling with water and environmental health problems, protecting habitat for fish and wildlife, developing blue cities and reducing our country’s use of water and energy. Visit us online at or on Facebook.

Friends of the Kaw Recieves a Paddle Nation Grant

Outdoor Nation has provided $2,500 to Friends of the Kaw for Keeping the Dream Alive: Connecting Underserved Students with the Kansas River National Water Trail. Friends of the Kaw is working with the staff at the National Park Service’s Brown v. Board of Education site and Freedom Frontier to provide a paddling experience for the Boys and Girls Club Day Camps this summer on June 11, 18, 25, July 9 and 16 (all Wednesdays.) We will either take the group on the Kansas River from De Soto access to Cedar Creek access or to Kill Creek Lake. We NEED VOLUNTEERS on those days between 9:30 and 2:30pm. If you have a kayak or canoe and want to bring it that would be great or we also need folks to help paddle one of Friends of the Kaw’s boats. If you can help out please contact the Kansas Riverkeeper.

Volunteers Needed!

So many Events and Festivals coming up and we need your help!

Topeka Gives at Fairlawn Plaza Mall on June 3rd, 2014 in Topeka, KS from 7am to 6pm
Fairlawn Plaza Mall: 2114 SW Chelsea Dr. Topeka, KS 66614

Topeka Gives is a one-day event, celebrating charitable giving. The Topeka Community Foundation will provide $35,000 in “match” money for contributions made to support 111 different nonprofit organizations in the community. Contributions can be made only inside the Fairlawn Plaza Mall on that day. This event is a kid-friendly, hands-on, fun activity in which to model the joy of charitable giving.

Friends of the Kaw needs 2 volunteers for Topeka Gives. One volunteer for a 10am to 2pm shift and another for a 2pm to 6pm shift! Contact the Kansas Riverkeeper to volunteer!
Winesong at Riverfest Park in Desoto, KS on June 7th, 2014 from 3pm – 7pm
Riverfest Park: 33440 W. 79th St. Desoto, KS 66018
WinesongWinesong at Riverfest is a charitable fund-raising event for Friends of the Kaw and several other local charities! This is the 3rd Annual event and guests can enjoy the unique opportunity to discover the dozens of wines from at least 17 Kansas farm wineries throughout the local area. This is such a memorable event! This event will be held “rain or shine”!

Friends of the Kaw needs 12, yes twelve, volunteers for Winesong to help with the Friends of the Kaw booth and to help monitor a tent on that day. Folks who volunteer will get free admission (this is a awesome deal!) and the opportunity to explore and enjoy the festival as it is going on! We are not going to put you to work the entire time! Contact the Kansas Riverkeeper to volunteer!


Boulevardia in the West Bottoms of Kansas City on June 14 from 11am – 5pm and June 15 from 12pm – 5pm
West Bottoms: Around the historic 12th Street bridge near downtown Kansas City, MO
BoulevardiaBoulevardia is a new beer, food and music festival being held in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. Friends of the Kaw is going to have an informational booth in the Eco-village of the festival. Our goal is to spread the word on our mission and recruit more people to enjoy and help with protecting and preserving the Kansas River!

Friends of the Kaw needs 6 volunteers for Boulevardia to help with the Friends of the Kaw booth. Folks who volunteer will get free admission AND a free t-shirt (which is amazing!) and have some time to explore and enjoy the festival after volunteering! We need several volunteers on both Saturday (11am to 5pm) and Sunday (12pm to 5pm) of the festival.

Contact the Kansas Riverkeeper to volunteer!

Kayaking on the Kansas River National Water Trail

On Wednesday June 11th, 2014, Laura Calwell, Kansas Riverkeeper for Friends of the Kaw will discuss paddling on the Kansas River at the REI store in Overland Park. This seminar, part of their Outdoor School calendar, will include access ramps, river characteristics, safety, and back country camping on sandbars. The Kansas River National Water Trail runs over 170 miles from Junction City to Kansas City, KS where it enters the Missouri River at Kaw Point. Laura has guided float trips for over ten years and has kayaked the entire river multiple times. She is very knowledgeable about aspects of this prairie-based river. This seminar will cover how to plan short day trips or multi-day trips on this outstanding natural resource in the state of Kansas’ back yard.



Meet Erik Wolf, FOK Program and Communications Director

Introducing Erik Wolf, Friends of the Kaw’s new Program and Communications Director
Erik Wolf, Program & Communications Director

Erik Wolf, Program & Communications Director

Erik Wolf was hired in March as the new Communication and Program Director for Friends of the Kaw. He grew up in Overland Park, KS and has his degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas. Erik takes care of the social media and various programs run by Friends of the Kaw. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves recreating in and around all types of water, especially kayaking on the Kaw. He enjoys teaching people about anything they want to know about the outdoors and believes highly the “leave-no-trace” ethic when enjoying the outdoors so the next person who paddles, bikes, hikes or sight sees behind him will get their own feeling they are the first to explore. Erik lives on Strawberry Hill in KCK where he has a beautiful view of the Kansas River everyday of the year!

Celebrate Earth Month and benefit Friends of the Kaw via Green Wish Kansas!

April is Earth Month! To show their support for Lawrence green initiatives, these restaurants are contributing a portion of profits on specific days of April to Green Wish!

Merchants Pub & Plate – April 21st and 23rd
LiMESTONE –– April 22nd
Pachamamas Restaurant and Star Bar – April 24th
715 Restaurant– ongoing sponsor

What better way to show your support for local green projects than to eat local! Be sure to visit these restaurants on the dates above and tell them you’re there to support Green Wish!



Tell the EPA! Protect our Water!

Tell the EPA: Don’t Delay to Protect Clean Water!

Show your support for the EPA’s efforts to better manage polluted runoff, a major source of pollution to our rivers and streams across the country! Ask your representatives to tell the EPA not to delay in issuing a rule to update its stormwater programs to better protect clean water.

Show Your Support for Updating Stormwater Programs to Protect Clean Water

A recent report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that approximately 55% of our rivers and streams are in poor biological condition. Polluted runoff is identified as one of the major sources of pollution to our rivers and streams.

What is the EPA Doing?

In 2009, the EPA announced its intention to update and modernize its existing programs to better manage urban runoff and protect clean water.  The Agency is considering requiring that developers use techniques to control runoff before it flows off-site. This simple step may drive the use of green infrastructure practices such as green roofs and rain gardens. Additionally, they are considering requiring existing sources of urban runoff and sources in critical watersheds to reduce their impact.

Unfortunately, the EPA continues to delay in issuing a new rule, so untreated pollution continues to run into our rivers.

What Can You Do to Help?

The EPA needs to act.  We need you to show your support for the EPA’s efforts to strengthen its stormwater programs and better protect our rivers and streams. Send a letter to your Member of Congress expressing concern over EPA’s delays and ask them to put pressure on the EPA to move forward on these critical updates to protect clean water and public health.

Sample Letter

Dear Representative:

As a supporter of Waterkeeper Alliance and clean water, I am writing to express my concern over the Environmental Protection Agency’s delay in proposing a national rule to update its stormwater programs to better protect clean water. This marks the sixth time that the Agency has passed a deadline to propose critical updates to our nation’s stormwater runoff programs.

Polluted runoff is one of the major sources of pollution to our rivers, streams, lakes, and bays. When rainwater hits hard surfaces such as roads and rooftops, it can’t soak into the ground. Instead, it flows along the surface and picks up pollutants like heavy metals and chemicals before eventually flowing into local waters. As our communities continue to grow, our ability to manage the resulting polluted runoff has not kept pace.

We can do better. Updating federal standards to capture and treat rainwater where it falls will keep pollution out of lakes, rivers, and streams and reduce localized flooding in a proven, cost-effective way. The EPA has the opportunity to protect clean water across the country from the Chesapeake Bay to the Puget Sound by updating its programs to capture and filter rainfall, minimize pollution from new or redevelopment, and address runoff from existing sources.

I’m very concerned about the problem of polluted runoff and its impact on clean water and the health and safety of my community. A fair and effective nationwide rule will help mitigate the economic, health, and environmental costs imposed on taxpayers and businesses by unregulated runoff. In fact, FEMA estimates that up to 25 percent of economic losses occur as a result of flooding exacerbated by urban runoff. 

Please urge the EPA to move forward on these critical updates to protect clean water.