Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 18

Chasing the Channel – Blog No. 18

Bonfire on the Kaw

Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year on the Kansas River.  As the leaves start to turn and the mornings are crisp, you find new life along the banks of the river.  You all know that I love to camp, but fall is a really special time on a sandbar.  Mornings around the campfire with a cup of something warm, a coolness to the air that makes you want to dive back into your sleeping bag.  Layers are the mode of operation as the day warms. 

When I last wrote for my blog, we had finished up the KAW 173 and kayaked the entire Kansas River, yet again!  We finished out the month of October with two of our biggest cleanups of the year in Manhattan and Shawnee.  We closed out 2021 with a record number of tires removed from the Kansas River – over 1,000 tires this year!  I surely hope we never break that record.

Paddlers on the Kaw in 2021

We also closed on a 14-acre piece of property along the Kansas River that will be a future river only accessible camp site.  Our dear friend, Darrel Zimmerman, donated this property to Friends of the Kaw.  To give you a sense of the backstory, I call him Mr. Z.  This is in reference to the fact that he was my 8th grade science teacher and his classroom was always a special place for learning.  I’m certain that many of my loves for science started in his classroom and are with me today.  But Mr. Z’s story to donate to Friends of the Kaw started long before I arrived at FOK.  His love for the river and the land in which he was raised is evident.  He can tell stories of the river and the land from his 80 some years on this earth and his passion for preservation.  When I asked him one time why he wanted to donate this land to Friends of the Kaw, his response was “the river gave us the land, so it is my wish to give it back to the people”.  I love you Mr. Z, for all you’ve given me, countless other DeSoto graduates, and all you’ve given to our river. 

The month of November is what I often refer to as, “conference month”.  In my role as the Chair of the Kansas Water Authority (KWA), I participated in a panel discussion with Representative Ron Highland (Chair of the House Water Committee) and Kansas Water Office, Director, Connie Owen.  This panel discussion was moderated by Representative Lindsay Vaughn.  This panel discussion was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Johnson County and if you missed it, you can watch it here:  This was a great discussion about water in Kansas!  I also attended the Governor’s Water Conference, the Kansas Association of Conservation District’s Conference, and we had our December meeting of the Kansas Water Authority.  It was a busy month for the KWA! 

With Friends of the Kaw, I also attended a meeting with Futamura, a business along the Kaw that has been working on improving the way they discharge to the Kansas River.  We met with Kansas Dept. of Health & Environment and Futamura to discuss their plans and updates that benefit the river. The construction work that they are doing will be done in late 2022 and will be a wonderful improvement to the area.  We hope to highlight our work together in 2022 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Denise, Dawn & Kim at Beers of the Kaw this year.

Kim and I have written several grants this fall, one in particular for the Kansas River Water Trail to complete the kiosks at the remaining boat ramps.  We have also partnered on many projects and grants, mostly notable our work with KACEE (Kansas Association for Conservation & Environmental Education).  Denise, our Education Coordinator, is working in partnership with KACEE on this project to bring water quality education to teachers in the Topeka school system. 

And to wind out the year, we’ve been busy putting together a Wish List for 2022.  We have some really important projects, so please consider a donation.  We need to buy single kayaks for our Education Program, so would you consider making a donation? Your donation will ensure that students (and adults) learn about the Kansas River for years to come!  Here is our wish list, along with a link to donate: 

We have big plans for 2022 and we look forward to sharing it with you!  Remember that memberships are due March 1 and our Wild & Scenic Film Festival is coming up on February 25, 2022.  The format this year will be both virtual and live at Liberty Hall in downtown Lawrence!  We hope to see you there!

Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season. 

With gratitude for the river,

Dawn Buehler

Kansas Riverkeeper