The MERC Co+Op Change Program Recipient

The MERC Co+Op Change Program Recipient


Friends….we have been selected as The MERC Co+Op Change for our Community Recipient for August 2020!  Please join us to shop at The MERC Co+Op located at 901 Iowa St, Lawrence, KS 66044 during the month of August (and all year long!) and round up to donate to Friends of the Kaw!

During the month of August, we will highlight the “Kansas River and Food Connection” with a 3 part series.  Learn about “Agriculture along the Kansas River”, “Drinking Water and the Kansas River” and “”Ways to Protect the Kansas River”.  Stop by our table and learn more about these connections to our river.  We will be at The MERC, outside at a table, during the month of August :

Every Wednesday from 4:00 to 6:00 PM
Every Saturday from 9:00 to 11:00 AM! 

Come learn about the Kansas River, our work to protect it, and how you can get involved.  

We are so grateful for this opportunity…so please join us to thank the fine folks at The Merc when you drop in, for their efforts to help us protect the Kansas River!  Learn more about The MERC Change for our Community Program here:  https://www.themerc.coop/change

See you there!  

KAW 173 – Day 7

KAW 173 – Day 7

River Mile 67 and kayaked 24 miles to River Mile 43 on the Kansas River Water Trail.


We woke up this morning at Beaver Hollow about 4 miles upstream from Lecompton. When we went to bed the night before, it was muggy and hot and the mosquitoes were in full force. Somewhere in the middle of the night things cooled off and this morning was perfectly beautiful. We affectionately call this spot Beaver Hollow because we’ve stayed here before, and there is great beaver activity. All night long, you can hear the splashing in the water. And in the morning you can see that they’ve been there.


We knew we had an early morning, because we had scheduled an early morning public paddle. So we were all up before the sun and on the river by 7 AM. The paddle in the early morning as some of the most perfect times on the Kansas River. The river is still, often there’s mist and the sun is slowly rising. This is the time of the day that you can see the most wildlife activity if you quietly paddle along the banks. We’ve seen so many beavers that we’ve lost track of the count. This morning was no different between beavers and deer… what a glorious place we live in!


We paddled just a few miles before we reached Lecompton and met a great group of people for a public paddle. It was great to see so many of our friends and members, what a wonderful way to come into this part of the watershed and to see the folks that really helped us make this organization what it is today. It was great to see so many friends. We departed and headed towards Lawrence, with a quick stop on the sandbar to cool off. We went ahead and left and some folks stayed back and enjoyed the river for a little while longer. When we arrived at Riverfront Park in Lawrence, we had arranged for a group of our volunteers to come and help us unload all of our gear so that we could portage our boats empty through Bowersock dam. We got back on the river after unloading, and paddled another 2 miles to Bowersock portage. This portage was put in by Bowersock Power and Mill Company and we are so grateful. And it addition to that, Sarah and her crew at Bowersock all came and met us at the portage and helped us get all of our boats to the other side. It’s great to have so many wonderful partners up and down the river. I think one of the things that’s really made me proud and happy about this experience is all of the help along the way. We have so many people that love the river and so many people that want to help and make it so much sweeter.


After portaging the dam, we paddled another 2 miles down to 8th Street boat ramp. When we arrived, there was a great group of people there to meet us including two city commissioners, folks from the Kansas Water Office and the Chair of the Kansas Water Authority. These are people that we have worked with regularly on connections to the city and on solutions to water issues. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to have the support of all of these people that we’ve worked with over the years. We talked about Lawrence and the connection to the Kansas River Water Trail and about future projects below Bowersock that can give even more opportunity for Kansans to enjoy their river.
It has been an incredibly busy day with lots of community visits and interaction.

Special visits from my parents and in-laws as today was my 52nd birthday. What a great way to spend it…and I’m so grateful that I am physically able to do this journey!

Once we got done at 8th Street with the community visit, we all needed some time to rearrange our gear and get loaded up with water for the next leg of the journey. We spent some time getting settled and we also enjoyed lunch courtesy of Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence! We have been so spoiled on this journey but we are so grateful for all of the local connections to the water trail. Next time you’re in Lawrence… you can get off the river and simply walk over the bridge and go to Free State and have a beer and dinner. And this is really at the heart of this entire advocacy for the river trail. How are these communities connected to the Kansas River? Do people just simply drive over the bridge and never think about the connection? We are trying to highlight that you can enjoy the river trail, and stop in these communities along the way and enjoy the local flavors. There are so many wonderful things and all of these little river towns that people often don’t even know about. If you love to kayak, canoe, paddle board, fish, boat, or whatever you can think of to enjoy the river trail…there is a town along the way that can also offer wonderful places to stay along the way and great food to eat to refuel.

Friends of the Kaw started in the basement of a house in North Lawrence and this is our home. It was great to bring the water trail journey back to Lawrence. Thank you to all the people that joined us for the public paddle, the community visit, and just to cheer us on! We are grateful to everyone who has joined us on this journey.

On the note of wildlife, today was spectacular. In between all of this visiting, we did see tons of wildlife. We saw at least seven Bald eagle‘s between Lawrence and our camp spot west of Eudora. Of course we’re not sure if it’s the same bald eagle or different ones, but we spotted them seven times. We also found lots of tracks on the sandbar, and many birds including red headed woodpeckers, indigo buntings, and cuckoo. Early this morning as we paddled towards Lecompton, we saw a deer run across the river and another deer off in the distance.


There is never a shortage of wildlife on the Kansas River. This is their home and we’re just dropping in for a visit.

Tonight, we’ve settled in at the sandbar just near Eudora. Tomorrow we will do a public Paddle from Eudora to De Soto and again from De Soto to Cedar Creek. We also have a Community visit at De Soto, which is my hometown. I was born and raised on the banks of the Kansas River in De Soto and graduated from De Soto High and I’m proud to say that I am forever a Wildcat! I look forward to seeing you all in my hometown tomorrow!


Dawn, Your Kansas Riverkeeper

KAW 173 – Day 3

KAW 173 – Day 3

River Mile 141 and kayaked 18 miles to River mile 123 on the Kansas River Water Trail

We made it another day and we are grateful!

Taking a cue from my paddle teammate and friend, David, I’m voice recording my thoughts along the way today down the river.

We shoved off from the sandbar on a crisp morning. Blue sky, puffs of clouds, cool water, and a beautiful start to the day. We only have 6 miles to go to St George, so we are taking our time and enjoying the river. And as I write this blog this morning, I literally just saw a beaver dive into the Kaw. A few minutes later, a bald eagle atop a dead tree branch. So much wildlife on the Kaw.

After a slow ride, we arrived at St George early, and that’s fine with our team. A little time to sit in the shade, take a nap, or walk into St George. We love St George, a beautiful river town and so close to the boat ramp. A few of my teammates walked into town for both a walk and to look around and brought back coffee. Later, our teammate Kim brought pizza from Willies Hideout, our treat for the day!

We had a great group join our Public Paddle from St George to Wamego. We enjoyed visiting with all of them, each one has a cool story about their experience with the Kaw. We enjoyed a very refreshing sit in the water at a sandbar, that we have dubbed the “Kaw Spa”, an original 173 Team term for our sand baths while soaking away the day’s sun.

Arriving in Wamego, an equally beautiful river town, also walking distance to the downtown deli or the coffee shop! Nestled in a beautiful park setting, the Wamego Ramp is a nice stop along the trail. We departed our friends – some old and some new – and headed down the river. We made it another 6 miles and found a perfect backside island with shade to share stories of the day and rest off the heat and fatigue. We are hoping for another miss with thunderstorms, but we are camped in a protected area for the night.

Today we saw beaver, bald eagles, ducks, blue jay, two owls and many tracks on the sandbar. Mostly, this was a day to enjoy our friends. Thanks for following along, we’ve made it exactly 50 miles total today!

For the river,

Dawn, Your Kansas Riverkeeper

KAW 173 – Day 1

KAW 173 Journey – Day 1

River Mile 173 and kayaked 6 miles to River Mile 167 of the Kansas River Water Trail

On this beautiful summer afternoon, we launched from Junction City onto the Republican River and paddled our kayaks to where it meets the Smoky Hill River and the Kansas River begins. Seven of us are making this journey together to raise awareness about the Kansas River Water Trail amd we are excited to see all of you either at the public paddles or the community events!

Along the way, we enjoyed the beauty that only this river can offer in our beautiful state of Kansas. We enjoyed the calm, cool waters of the river when we stopped for a break at a sandbar. We cooled off and then continued on our journey. It felt wonderful to be in no hurry, and just simply let our boats flow with the river… and immerse ourselves in nature.

Along the way we saw a ton of wildlife today. it is not uncommon to see many Blue heron on the Kansas River, and today we saw seven. We also saw three bald eagles, a kingfisher, fish crow, 20 Canada geese, and even quietly rolled up on a beaver sitting on the banks!

As I sit here on this beautiful sandbar, and reflect on the day… I can hear a bobwhite quail. We also were surprised when our KSU professor entomologist paddler discovered a tiger beetle larva on the sandbar! Let’s just say it’s been a great day for wildlife!

We are all set up for the night, believe me when I tell you that there is nothing better than camping on a Kansas River sandbar… Good night all. See you tomorrow out on the river!