Support FOK in Fighting for Clean Water, and Year-End Review


Support Clean Water with a Gift for the Kaw!

Dear Friends,

In March of 2014, the Corps of Engineers (COE) announced that a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would be required to reauthorize dredging permits on the Kaw. The COE “was unable to conclude that there are no potentially significant impacts associated with the activities proposed by dredging companies.” The new EIS is a positive development, but there’s still work to do. Commercial sand and gravel dredging have seriously degraded the Kansas River, and to prevent additional damage all operations should move to appropriately sited pit mines in the Kansas River valley. When it comes time for the public meeting that will be held in the fall of 2015 we’ll need you to submit your comments in support of protecting the Kaw. We’ll keep you updated!

desoto kiosk

DeSoto Kiosk

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, with the assistance of the National Park Service and Friends of the Kaw, has continued to improve the Kansas River Water Trail.  With the participation of Westar’s Green Team informational kiosks have been built at many of the access ramps, including the De Soto ramp.

In June of 2015, our Kansas Riverkeeper, Laura Calwell, was honored by the River Network as a River Hero.  This award is peer-nominated and given yearly to five individuals who have dedicated themselves to protecting our most vital natural resource—water.  After years of service, Laura will be retiring in the near future, so we are actively seeking applications for a new Kansas Riverkeeper.  Visit the job description page for more details.

river hero

River Hero Awards

Finally, as we approach the end of the year, please consider making a tax-deductible gift via PayPal or by sending a check to Friends of the Kaw, P.O. Box 1612, Lawrence, KS 66044.  Your gift will support efforts to protect the river, including getting dredging operations out of the river. Already an FOK member? Consider giving a membership as a holiday gift! Over 800,000 Kansans depend on the Kaw for drinking water, and it is only through working together that we can protect this valuable resource for future generations.

Thank you for your continued support of Friends of the Kaw. From all of us at FOK, have a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for the new year!

Warm regards,

Jim Walton, President

Your gift to Friends of the Kaw helps FOK 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.

2014 FOK Accomplishments


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. Following progress for new Environmental Impact Statement.

Pollution & Policy

  • Responded to eight pollution reports including trash, concrete & asphalt dumping, oil spill in KCK; questionable application of herbicides in Lawrence; questionable waste management practices; and a questionable discharge from a pit mine operation.
  • With assistance from Westar’s Green Team, KDHE, REI and the City of De Soto cleaned up the area just below the De Soto access ramp.  Ww also made arrangements to clean up 500 tires and other debris below a Westar power line just east of Lawrence for March of 2015.
  • 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.
  • Provided input for the Vision for the Future Water Supply in Kansas via the Basin Advisory Committee and a consortium of Kansas environmental organizations.
  • Promoted and made comments on EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Proposed Rule.


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 twelve educational float trips for over 400 people.
  • Provided five Boys and Girls Club paddling experiences in conjunction with day camps organized by the National Park Service and Freedom’s Frontier.  Thanks to our volunteers who spent the morning paddling with the kids!
  • Worked with the KS Department of Parks, Wildlife and Tourism and the National Park Service on promotion of the KS River Water Trail, and helped organize a community float attended by over 50 paddlers on October 8, 2014.
  • 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.
  • Received six grants for a total of $33,500 for river cleanups, floats and stormwater education (both urban and rural.)
  • Developed the Kids About Water (KAW) project, a water quality issues and actions curriculum for grades 6 -12.
  • Recruited volunteers for De Soto Rotary’s Winesong event (FOK was one of the beneficiaries!)
  • Fundraising Events: Catfish fry in Lawrence and the Annual Dinner and Silent Auction at Olathe’s Bass Pro Shop.  MARK YOUR CALENDARS!  The Wild and Scenic Film Festival will be held on April 30 at the Glenwood Theater in Overland Park and on May 1 at Liberty Hall in Lawrence.


DeSoto Ramp Cleanup and Support EPA Clean Water Rule

De Soto Ramp Cleanup This Saturday, November 8th

Friends of the Kaw is working with the City of De Soto, Westar Green Team, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Bureau of Waste Management to clean up an area on the Kaw just below the De Soto access ramp and we need some volunteer assistance.  The cleanup will start at 9:00am and end once the job is done or at 4pm, so you can come for the morning, the afternoon or both.  The Green Team will be using a line truck to lift objects over to the ramp where a skid loader will transport heavy items up the ramp to a dumpster. Because we are using heavy equipment, the activity on the ramp is not appropriate for kids under 18 years old.  Younger folks are welcome to come and will be able to help do some maintenance on the demonstration rain garden near the access ramp or pick up litter in Riverfest Park.

Area below the De Soto Access

Many of Friends of the Kaw’s group float trips start at the De Soto ramp so cleaning up this area will give float participants a better first impression of the river.  We are grateful for the efforts of the City of De Soto, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and Westar Green Team and also a grant from REI to accomplish this effort.

Please wear long pants, gloves and sturdy shoes that can get wet.  We will do a hot dog roast for lunch at 12:30pm for volunteers.

It would help us get a count for the hot dog roast if folks would RSVP with the Kansas Riverkeeper – also contact us for more information!


Please Make Comments on the EPA’s Proposed Clean Water Rule by November 14

Since 2008, over 400,000 requests have been sent by a wide variety of groups – including farmers, state and local officials, and members of Congress – asking the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to make the Clean Water Act easier to understand. In response, the EPA and the Army Corps collaborated with all invested parties to create a new rule that clarifies existing law and ensures clean water protections for the streams and wetlands that many consider to be some of our nation’s great natural resources.

We should all help ensure this important rule is adopted by showing our support for the updated Clean Water Act definition of the “Waters of the U.S.”

The proposed rule would clarify existing laws, increase government efficiency and make our water cleaner by better defining which rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands the Clean Water Act protects from industrial pollution, oil spills, and outright destruction. Special consideration for agricultural concerns is addressed, and the new rule will strengthen our nation’s farming community by avoiding economic burden and bringing certainty and predictability to agriculture.

In recent years, there has been a lot of confusion and controversy over whether smaller streams and certain wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act. As a result, some waters have been opened up for industrial dumping and others have become harder to protect. Without a clear definition of what is protected, 59% of our streams and at least 20% of our wetlands are threatened. It’s important to protect even the smaller streams, creeks and wetlands because they help reduce flooding, supply drinking water, and provide critical support and habitat for fish and wildlife in downstream waters. And, as any kid who grew up near a creek can attest, small streams provide access to adventures, exploration and wildlife. They truly are some of our most treasured—and accessible—places.

As part of the official rulemaking process, we can insist that EPA and the Corps ensure automatic protection for all streams and wetlands scientifically proven to have significant connections to downstream waters. This helps the Mississippi River by protecting the water feeding into it.

We expect strong opposition to this rule from institutions that use our rivers, streams and wetlands as dumping grounds. Regretfully, these polluters have the ear of many members of Congress and are working hard to defeat the rule. Don’t let them block this noble effort!
Show your support for this clean water rule by sending a comment to the EPA and we will copy your Representative in Congress so they hear your voice as well. Together we can ensure the Clean Water Act’s definition of “Waters of the U.S.” is finalized and our waters protected.

It’s easy – here are several web sites where you can make comments:

National Resource Defense Council

National Wildlife Federation


Annual Dinner RSVP Deadline and DeSoto CleanUp Date

Friends of the Kaw's Annual Dinner & Silent - RSVP Deadline TODAY! Friends of the Kaw is holding its 18th Annual Dinner and Silent Auction on Wednesday, November 5, 2014 from 6 to 9pm at the Bass Pro Shop in Olathe (just SW of I-35 and 119th … [Continue reading]

DeSoto Cleanup Update and Urgent Message from Sierra Club

Cleanup at the De Soto Ramp - Oct. 18 - Canceled The good news is our reservoirs are full but the bad news is after all the rain we have had in the past month the river is to high to effectively do the cleanup below the De Soto Ramp on this … [Continue reading]

Clean-Up at DeSoto Ramp

Cleanup at the De Soto Ramp - Oct. 18 Friends of the Kaw is working with the City of De Soto and Westar Green Team to clean up an area on the Kaw just below the De Soto access ramp (see photo below) and we need some volunteer assistance. The clean … [Continue reading]

Thursday Night Fish Fry

  Tonight's the night! Please join us for the Catfish Fry fundraiser at Abe & Jakes Landing at 8 E. 6th St. in Lawrence, KS starting at 6pm on Thursday evening, September 25. You will receive a delicious catfish dinner prepared by … [Continue reading]

Catfish Fry and Community Forum

Please join us for the Catfish Fry fundraiser at Abe & Jakes Landing at 8 E. 6th St. in Lawrence, KS starting at 6pm on Thursday evening, September 25. You will receive a delicious catfish dinner prepared by Terrabonne Cafe. The cost is $10 in … [Continue reading]

Fall Floats and Catfish Fry

August has been beautiful, bring on the September floats!! The Friends of the Kaw Dad/Sons float trip on August 9th was enjoyed by all. As shown in the photo above, during the break from floating the boys enjoyed nice swim! Many fish and bald eagles … [Continue reading]

July Friends of the Kaw Float Trips

                  Friends of the Kaw has hosted the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Church, a KU Architecture class, the Konza Rotary Club in Manhattan, Boy Scout Troop 323 and the … [Continue reading]

Boys and Girls Club Paddling Experiences

Friends of the Kaw hosts Boys & Girls Club Paddling Experiences!   Friends of the Kaw partnered with Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, managed by the National Park Service, and Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage … [Continue reading]