Sam opposes Rails-to-Trails

Thanks to Sam Brownback, Kansas may be one step closer to losing out completely on a cross-America recreational trail. It is Brownback's intent to drive a spike through the heart of the Rail Trail.

If you want to learn how valuable this recreational attraction can be, call the Missouri Department of Tourism and ask for the names of businesses and towns along that state's beautiful Katy Trail. That's what Kansas may miss out on, thanks to Sam's efforts.

In March '98, Brownback introduced legislation that would force trail developers to get the approval of each local government. If one county commission voted it down, the trail would be snipped in two.

It's just this kind of attitude that's going to push the trail clear up into Nebraska, whose people welcome it with open arms. In fact they have just officially approved 320 miles of rail-banking along the north edge of the state called the Cowboy Trail.

David Burwell of the Rails to Trails Conservancy: "Kansas is the only state that seems to be fighting this at this level. People in Missouri, they love their trail. I think this opposition in Kansas is just because of a few organizations there opposing it."

Congress passed the National Trails Act in 1983 as a "rail-banking" measure -- to preserve rail corridors against possible future transportation needs. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the act constitutional. It's still an open question how much compensation the landowners should receive.

Kansas ranks last in the nation in its percentage of public land.

Source: the Kansas City Star, "Rails-to-trails plans face Kansas roadblock," Michael Mansur, 03/06/98
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