Manhattan Battery Case Cleanup

Manhattan Battery Case Cleanup on the Kansas River

Saturday, April 10, 2021
Launch 9:00 AM
Manhattan Linear Park Boat Ramp (Big Blue River)
Manhattan, KS

RSVP:  https://forms.gle/xnHct98SkcXcBvwh7

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 9

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 9

Frozen Kaw by Lisa Grossman

Spring is surely coming…

My last blog post was at the end of the year, reflecting on a great year of work for the Kansas River, despite being in a pandemic.  Fast forward to now and we have been incredibly busy.  You might think that we have little to do all winter, but actually the winter is a very different kind of “swamped”.  We spend our winter writing grants to fund our important projects, holding fundraiser events, participating in community discussions around water, getting our gear ready to go for spring…and the most fun thing we do is plan our calendar for the entire year!  Yes, we plan it all over the winter, down to every event.  By the way, please consider buying a ticket to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival – showing tomorrow night, Friday February 26….and if you can’t watch it on Friday, you have an on demand feature where you can go back and watch it through March 3, 2021.  Tickets here:  https://qudio.com/event/FriendsoftheKaw/register

What kinds of grants are we applying for?  We applied for a grant to do a Restoration Project in Topeka, a Rain Garden Restoration in DeSoto, and a grant for equipment for our work for the river!  Whew…and we are not done yet.  We are also planning some grants for amenities along the Kansas River Water Trail.  

By now, most of you have probably read our news about my Appointment by Governor Laura Kelly to the Chair of the Kansas Water Authority.  What an honor to have been asked and confirmed by the Kansas Senate.

Many of you might be asking yourselves, what is the Kansas Water Authority and how did Dawn get involved?  In the big picture way of thinking, the Kansas Water Office (KWO) is the planning agency for the state.  Established in 1981, the Kansas Water Authority (KWA) is within and a part of the KWO.  The Kansas Water Authority is comprised of 24 members of which 13 are voting members that are appointed from across the state, and 11 ex-officio members that are the directors or Secretaries of the various agencies that work on water.  This 24-member board is responsible for advising the Governor, the Legislature, and the Director of the KWO on water policy issues, approving the State Water Plan, budget recommendations, federal contracts, administrative regulations and legislation proposed by the KWO. 

The Kansas Water Plan also includes the Kansas Water Vision, the mission statement of which is to “provide Kansans with the framework, policy and tools, developed in concert with stakeholders, to manage, secure and protect a reliable, long term statewide water supply while balancing conservation with economic growth”.  Within the Kansas Water Vision are 14 Regional Advisory Committees (RAC) that work on goals and action plans in their respective local areas and watersheds and make recommendations to the Kansas Water Authority.  I have spent the last 6 years on the Kansas RAC, mostly recently as the Chair, assisting our 13-member committee with writing the goals and action plans that impact the Kansas basin, which includes the Kansas River.  It is here as a member of the RAC that I learned about the long-term water issues impacting our state. 

So what can you do to get involved?  Learn more about the work being done by the Regional Advisory Committees, Kansas Water Office and Kansas Water Authority here: https://kwo.ks.gov/  The meeting are public and you can really learn more about the issues by attending.  TALK about water…with everyone!  Share the importance of water to our state, our economy, ecosystem and recreation with your family, friends and local community leadership.  Watch our Kaw Minute on the Kansas Water Authority here:  https://youtu.be/1LcI3AlnhhQ

I hope to see you all on the river soon – we have some major cleanups planned for this year including another big tire cleanup near Shawnee.  We also have our tentative calendar scheduled and you can take a look:  https://kansasriver.org/calendar/

Notice the KAW 173?  We will be offering for folks to sign up to come along on four (3) day weekend adventures to paddle the entire Kansas River!  Lots of fun coming up this year….I am so grateful you are coming along for the ride – either virtually or on the river! 

Let me know if I can help you connect to the Kansas River!

For the river,
Dawn, your Kansas Riverkeeper

2021 VIRTUAL Wild & Scenic Film Festival

12TH ANNUAL WILD & SCENIC FILM FESTIVAL

Friday, February 26, 2021

Virtual Lobby Opens at 6:30 p.m., Films begin at 7:00 p.m.

Learn more: https://kansasriver.org/wsff/

This year’s festival will be virtual, so you can watch right from your living room! This Festival benefits Friends of the Kaw!

2021 Buy Tickets NOW!

FREE Education Tickets, first come first serve.  Email request for FREE tickets to:   info@kansasriver.org.  Courtesy of EVERGY’S GREEN TEAM!

FRIENDS OF THE KAW TO CELEBRATE 30 YEARS IN 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FRIENDS OF THE KAW TO CELEBRATE 30 YEARS IN 2021

LAWRENCE, KS (January 6, 2021) – Friends of the Kaw, a non-profit dedicated to protecting and preserving the Kansas River, announced today that they are celebrating their 30th year of work for the Kansas River.  As part of the celebration, Friends of the Kaw worked with local graphic designer Chris Millspaugh to create a “30 Years” celebration logo. In 2019, Millspaugh created the non-profit’s new brand/logo. Friends of the Kaw’s mission is to protect and preserve the 173-mile-long Kansas River through protection, advocacy, discovery and education.  Throughout 2021, Friends of the Kaw will celebrate with social media campaigns, a documentary, and a sandbar blast slated for late in 2021.  
 
“It is amazing to say that a small group of dedicated people started Friends of the Kaw from a basement in North Lawrence 30 years ago”, said Dawn Buehler, Kansas Riverkeeper® & Executive Director.  “We would not be where we are today without the courage and vision of a long list of dedicated volunteers who started this journey.  We hope to spend the year recognizing the work that they started, highlighting the work that we do today, and sharing our vision for the future.”
 
Friends of the Kaw will share more information about the upcoming events and plans to celebrate via social media outlets and the newsletter.  
 
About Chris Millspaugh Design:
 
Chris Millspaugh Design specializes in brand identity, logo design, print design and old fashioned letterpress printing in Lawrence, KS.

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Friends of the Kaw is the only non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Kansas River.  Our mission is to protect and advocate for the Kansas River while educating and engaging our citizens.

Protect. Advocate, Discover.  #kansasriver 
 
For Media Inquiries Please Contact:
Dawn Buehler
Kansas Riverkeeper® & Executive Director
Friends of the Kaw
785.312.7200

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 8

Looking forward and loving parts of the look back…

KAW 173 Team

I’ve read many end-of-the-year letters that have been coming out the last few days…and it’s hard not to reflect on a pandemic that has certainly shaped 2020. My family would tell you that I’m a glass always full type of person – probably so optimistic that I dare to ever look at the down side. So, it is appropriate for me to reflect on what went well in 2020.

Sunrise KAW 173 Day 9

Did you see a gorgeous sunset on the Kaw this year?  How about otter tracks in the sand?  Or maybe you enjoyed the quiet waters of a river and snuck up on a pair of beavers?  Did you spend more time outdoors THIS year than ever before?  Or maybe, just maybe….you were blessed to fall asleep to the sound of beaver splashing in the summer breeze.  Those are just a few of my very favorite things about this year.  The KAW 173 Journey was a highlight of my life and I’m sure my six companions.  Immersing ourselves in the beauty of the Kansas River for nine days was an amazing experience and test of our individual strengths, our collective will, and our deep friendship.  Thank you to my friends and colleagues – “Steady, My Favorite, Mr. Gadget, Sugar Cookie, Sherpa, and my Soul Sister”.  My gratitude for one of the best years of my life.  

Friends of the Kaw was like every other business (nonprofit or for profit) this year – trying to figure out how to keep moving in a moment in time that is new and unknown to all of us. We had to figure out how to keep moving our mission forward, how to educate youth, how to help people discover the Kansas River and how to keep a non-profit afloat during a pandemic – and I’m happy to stay that we made it. I know that those words are not exciting, but the truth is – we made it – and that’s all any of us wanted. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our volunteers, members and donors. We could not do any of this important work without all of you. You are, and will always be, the heart of Friends of the Kaw.

Kansas River

I would like personally thank Kim and Denise for their hard work, creativity, flexibility, and patience as we navigated this year.  I’m so grateful to have had colleagues to muddle through this year with.  We learned a great deal about each other and about how to survive the tough times together.  

Looking forward, we have some really great programming planned for 2021.  Who wants to paddle the entire Kansas River with Friends of the Kaw?  We’ve got some plans coming up that might just be something to get excited about!  And we are so very hopeful that come mid-year we will be able to bring back our Members Only Events up and down the Kaw.  Stay tuned for the annual Kaw River Guide Workshop, educational paddle trips, BIG cleanup events, Beers of the Kaw, Wild & Scenic Film Festival and the KAW 173!

Our biggest news yet is that we will celebrate 30 YEARS of Friends of the Kaw in 2021!  We have some big celebrations planned for later in the year along with some fun social media trivia and events – all about the Kansas River.

Let us know how we can help you to PROTECT. ADVOCATE and DISCOVER the Kansas River in the New Year!

Our heartfelt thank you and wishes for good health for all.

For the river,

Dawn Buehler

Kansas Riverkeeper & Executive Director

Beers of the Kaw – Ale Trail!

Beers of the Kaw – Ale Trail!

Supporting Friends of the Kaw and our work for the Kansas River! 

TICKETS on Sale….officially October 26, 2020! Get yours a little early …postcards will go out starting the week of October 26!

Link to ticket sales!

Event Details:  Tickets are $25.00 and a donation to Friends of the Kaw!

You will receive a postcard of brewer watershed discount….take it to your favorite brewery, get it checked off and you are on your way!  You will have from November 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 to complete the Ale Trail. You can choose to visit the brewery at their location on the map, drink their beer at another venue, or buy their beer at a local liquor store – up to you how you journey on the Ale Trail!  

If you return the postcard to Friends of the Kaw and have visited all of the breweries, you will be entered into a drawing for Door Prizes! You can email, mail or post a picture of your completed photo on our Beers of the Kaw Ale Trail Group page on Facebook!

Email to: info@kansasriver.org

Mail: PO Box 1612, Lawrence, KS 66044

Guess who’s coming to BEERS OF THE KAW ALE TRAIL?

9 Brewers….come taste some great brews!

  • 1524 Brew House – Concordia
  • 23rd Street Brewery – Lawrence
  • Fields & Ivy Brewery – Lawrence
  • The Free State Brewing Co. – Lawrence
  • Happy Basset Brewing Co. – Topeka
  • Kansas City Bier Company – Kansas City
  • Lawrence Beer Company – Lawrence
  • Manhattan Brewing Co. – Manhattan
  • Tallgrass Tap House – Manhattan

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 7

Why are there so many tires in the Kansas River?

Unearthing tires from a Kansas River sandbar
Photo by: Dawn Buehler

Last weekend, Friends of the Kaw and our partners and friends removed almost 400 tires that were embedded in a Kansas River sandbar. How did we do that? One at a time, with a shovel and many volunteers and partners.

It was exhausting, I’m not going to sugar coat it. We dug each tire out of the sand, mud and water. They were heavy. Each tire full of sand on the inside and often sitting in a pool of water. Some of the tires were semi-tractor size and others were car size, but imagine a semi-tire full of sand! So heavy, often taking three people to get them loose. Our motto is “one at a time”. Every tire off the river is one less in the river, so we unearthed them one at a time.

The question though, that we got asked more than any other, was how did they get there? Sure, there are modern day polluters that we are unfortunately still dealing with, but most of the tires on the Kansas River have been there for decades. If you are old enough to remember, pre-1960, our rural areas had no trash system. Even many urban areas did not have adequate refuse systems until around 1960. We find many old dump sites along the river from this time period. The tires, though, were used as bank stabilization. At the time, it was believed to help stabilize the bank and keep the Kansas River from eroding the farmland. However, we now know that doesn’t work. Not only do they not stabilize the banks, but tires don’t break down, they don’t go away, and they can leach chemicals into the water.

Dawn Buehler, Kansas Riverkeeper, with tires from a Kansas River sandbar.
Photo by: Dawn Buehler

My dad, a Kansas farmer, passed away in 2015 shortly after I started as your Kansas Riverkeeper. I grew up in the Kansas River valley and spent my childhood fishing, camping and boating in the Kansas River. Right before he died, he took me for a drive through the bottoms where I grew up and told me stories about the 1951 flood and about his lessons from the river. One of the things he told me was about a tire salesman from Kansas City that would come out to farmers and give them tires for free to use to stabilize the banks of their farmland. My dad said that this is one of the ways that we ended up with so many tires along the Kaw. I committed that day, that I would use my job and contacts to the best that I could to get the big sites off the river. We’ve made a dent, but we have more to do. We have more sites on our list – from just before Bonner Springs, Tire Island between Eudora and DeSoto, a site before St. George, and again around Tecumseh. And that’s not all, it’s just the sites at the top of my mind. Want to join us? We’d love your help, but in the meantime, do us a favor and take a single tire off the river next time you are out. One at a time, my friends…one at a time..

We owe a gracious thank you to the many that helped with the Eudora tire cleanup. Join us in thanking REI, Evergy Green Team, City of Eudora, Kansas Dept. of Wildlife Parks & Tourism, Kansas Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Big O Tires….and a very special thank you to our Kaw River Guides, and boat captains Sam, Nick and Dennis. It takes us all!

Until next time, may you always have sand in your shoes.

For the river,

Dawn, Your Kansas Riverkeeper

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 6

Challenges of a non-profit….

Old Battery Cases in the Kansas River near Manhattan
Photo by: Dawn Buehler

Last Saturday, I headed west towards Manhattan in the early morning darkness.  We had planned a Kaw River Guide trash and camp weekend complete with many partners and friends.  As I headed down I-70, it was easy to get lost in the early morning sunrise with thoughts of how the day would go and that we would truly make another dent in the trash that had accumulated in the Kansas River with decades worth of illegal dumping. 

My grand thoughts were soon interrupted by the sound of our trusty pick up showing signs of stress.  Luckily, I made it to Manhattan, but had to leave the truck in town for repairs.  As a non-profit, ever dollar matters and the thing I dislike spending our money on is repairs, but we can’t do our work without that truck.  Well, $1,500 later, and we will have the truck back tomorrow.  My work before coming to Friends of the Kaw was as an accountant for well over a decade with an environmental consulting firm before switching to my science-based career.  Working for a for-profit business is so vastly different than a non-profit.  Everyone wants their donation to go to something grand like pulling trash out of the river or educating the next generation – and believe me when I say that most of the donations go to that.  However, there are things like paying personnel, fixing trucks, buying laptops and things that don’t seem quite as exciting, but are essential in order to make it to the place to clean up the trash and educate the next generation.  As the only non-profit dedicated to protecting the Kansas River, we pride ourselves on being a non-governmental public advocate.  But that comes with the fundraising side too – which is funding our work through memberships, donations and fundraisers.  It gives us the freedom to advocate, bust polluters and represent YOU – because our funding comes from the people.  So, to everyone that gives in some way to Friends of the Kaw – thank you!  Thank you for seeing the value of the work we do and the value of your donation – even if it goes towards a $1,500 repair to our only piece of road transportation.  I’ll thank you in advance now (and later) for purchasing a $25 ticket to the Beers of the Kaw Ale Trail – not just for the beer experience (although that’s pretty awesome), but also to help us pay for all of the things that you don’t see so that we can do the things that you do see.

Beers of the Kaw Ale Trail tickets will go on sale October 26, 2020.  We are finalizing the details and some of your favorite brewers are going to make this a great event!  We also have a Silent Auction with items that will make great holiday gifts, so watch for more information in the coming weeks.

Drone footage of tire sandbar at Eudora
Photo by: Lisa Grossman

In the meantime, we are headed out to the river tomorrow to begin the process of unearthing “about” 385 tires embedded in a Kansas River sandbar near Eudora.  Then on Saturday, we will continue to pull the tires out and shuttle them to shore at the Eudora Boat Ramp.  Thanks to great partners in REI, Evergy Green Team, Big O Tires, City of Eudora, Kansas Dept. of Wildlife Parks & Tourism, our amazing Kaw River Guides, and a couple of local fisherfolk with boats – we will get it done!  One cleanup at a time – my grand wish is to leave the Kaw cleaner and healthier when I retire – ready for the next generation.

May you always have sand in your shoes…

For the river,

Dawn, Your Kansas Riverkeeper

FRIENDS OF THE KAW TEAMS UP WITH GOOD RIVER BEER FOR CONSERVATION

FRIENDS OF THE KAW TEAMS UP WITH GOOD RIVER BEER FOR CONSERVATION


Good River Beer
 Expands Distribution to Kansas: Raising 2% for Rivers

(Denver, CO – DATE EST SEPT 28TH) Good River Beer has partnered with Standard Beverage to expand distribution to Kansas and support local conservation efforts. Beginning next week, Good River Beer’s collection of premium craft beers will hit shelves in select retailers, starting with Whole Foods and Balls Food Stores.

Good River Beer is dedicated to brewing quality craft beer while forwarding their mission “to protect and conserve rivers.” As part of their expansion, they’ve teamed up with a Kansas-based nonprofit, Friends of the Kaw, to amplify their effort in uniting the river community around conservation. 2% of Good River Beer proceeds will be donated to the organization to protect the Kansas River, the state’s most prominent river for recreation, and a drinking source to nearly 1 million residents.

“We founded Good River Beer with the intent to build a company that makes a positive impact on the world,” says Co-Founder, Adam Odoski. “Beer is the vehicle to make that happen. The more beer we sell, the more we can give back to rivers and surrounding communities. Friends of the Kaw does some incredible work, and I’m excited to see the impact we can make.”

Executive Director Dawn Buehler is equally excited about the partnership opportunity adding, “We love partners who advocate for clean water and are proud to collaborate with Good River Beer on a chance to protect the Kansas River. There is nothing more important than protecting this waterway as it provides drinking water to over 800,000 Kansans, is a source of recreation, and a home to all that live in and along its shores.”

Good River Beer fans in Kansas can expect to find their full lineup across the state including, Hey Fishy Fishy, a juicy, aromatic, Hazy IPA; Class V (5), a big, bold, and balanced double IPA; American, a clean and crisp Pilsner, Fu Fighter, a gold-medal-winning Belgian Style Golden Ale; Horsethief, an easy-drinking, well-balanced, and malt-oriented, Mango Blonde Ale; and a Variety 12-Pack.

Good River Beer will be available on shelves beginning early-October 2020 with launch events and river-cleanups taking place in the Spring of 2021. Visit goodriverbeer.com to learn more about Good River Beer and stay updated on the latest company news.

About Good River Beer:

Good River Beer is a Colorado-based craft brewery with a purpose-driven mission to share their beer, follow the adventure, and protect and conserve rivers. They brew traditional beers crafted to cover the spectrum of flavor, with unique elements to classic recipes. All of their beer styles are named after rivers or river themes. Styles range from easy-drinking Ales, perfect for a lazy float, to big hoppy IPA’s to enjoy fireside after running a spicy section of Class V rapids. And, they just won their first Great American Beer Fest Gold Medal in 2019.

For more information about Good River Beer, please visit goodriverbeer.com

For more information about 2% For Rivers, a nonprofit founded by Good River Beer, please visit twopercentforrivers.com

About Friends of the Kaw:

Friends of the Kaw is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Kansas River. Our mission is to advocate, promote, educate, and engage the Kansas River.

Friends of the Kaw supports the Kansas Riverkeeper®, a non-governmental public advocate who holds the community accountable for the health of the Kansas River. The Kansas Riverkeeper is the eyes, ears, and voice of the Kansas River acting in the capacity of a leader, educator, investigator, media spokesperson, and scientist.

Some of our programs include river cleanups, educational paddle trips, ecosystem restoration, and our Kids About Water (KAWS) K-12 education program. To learn more about Friends of the Kaw, please visit www.kansasriver.org. Protect. Advocate. Discover.

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 5

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