Chasing the Channel Blog

Advocacy…at the heart of what we do.

Fall is a spectacular time on the Kaw. If you’ve experienced it, you know what I’m talking about. This is also an incredibly busy time of the year for us at Friends of the Kaw, but who am I kidding, it is busy all year long. The river never takes a break from needing to be protected. That said, the fall is a great time to help people connect to the Kansas River and we have had a busy month doing just that.

Eudora Community Paddle on the Kaw
Photo by Dawn Buehler

We normally have wait lists for our events, but this year has been unlike any other. I think with the pressures of the COVID pandemic, people are looking for ways to spend their time outdoors and find new ways to explore. We held a Pop-Up Paddle, two Beginner’s Paddle Events and a Community Paddle at Eudora in the last month and every one of them had a wait list. One of them had 95 people on the wait list…let me say that again, 95 people. I think this speaks not to necessarily the popularity of Friends of the Kaw, but more to the place we are in as a world in the middle of a pandemic. We all need connection – with each other and with nature – and paddling on a river is one way to do that! We have a few more events coming up this fall and we hope you can join us and experience the beauty of Kansas only seen from the Kansas River.

Kansas River sandbar art.
Photo by Dawn Buehler

I’ve been busy with my many advocacy related activities and boards where I represent the Kansas River in my role as Kansas Riverkeeper. I am on the Stakeholder Leadership Team for the Lower Kansas WRAPS (Water Restoration and Protection Strategy) and I’m happy to report that the group is gaining ground on delisting Stranger Creek for bacteria. We aren’t there yet, but this group is making great progress with cover crops and alternate watering systems to keep cattle out of the waterways. You can learn more about this work from our friends at Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams here: https://kaws.org/ourwork/watersheds/lkr/.

I also Chair the Kansas Regional Advisory Committee for the Kansas Water Vision. We recently updated our goals and action plans for the Kansas River basin and presented them to the Kansas Water Authority. I have worked on this committee for 5 years and it is by far some of the most impactful work that I do in terms of finding ways to protect our water quality and quantity. I will write more about our work on this committee in the new year but for now you can read up on the state’s Water Vision here: https://kwo.ks.gov/water-vision-water-plan/water-vision.

What a full month of advocacy! Another project where we represent the river is on the Sustainable Rivers Program. This is a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and the Corps of Engineers to reoperate Corps dams to find more ecological flows while still meeting downstream needs. We had a two day online call to do a workshop on this program. I am happy to say that this program has the greatest opportunity to have long term benefits to the Kansas River ecosystem! You can learn more about this program here: https://www.nature.org/en-us/what-we-do/our-priorities/protect-water-and-land/land-and-water-stories/sustainable-rivers-project/. Friends of the Kaw is on the Steering Committee for this program and proud to be a part of it!

Sandbars are back on the Kansas River!
Photo by Dawn Buehler

On top of all of those advocacy activities this month, we still find violations on the Kansas River. I have numerous violations that are being reported – from new dump sites to dredge cables that are left up, to discharges that look suspicious. Join us in keeping an eye on the river and if you see anything suspicious, you can report it directly to Kansas Department of Health and Environment, but please also contact us so that we can keep the pressure on to get it cleaned up. You can email riverkeeper@kansasriver.org. We are all in this together!

As always, if we can help you connect to the Kansas River, you know where to find us. Email, call, social media – or simply find us on the river. We are always happy to help.

May you always have sand in your shoes….

For the river,
Dawn, Your Kansas Riverkeeper