OSAWATOMIE — The Osawatomie Trails Task Force expects to begin construction of a Flint Hills Nature Trail extension this summer that would establish the eastern terminus of the 119-mile trail at the west parking lot of the Karl E. Cole Sports Complex.
Doug Walker, president of Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy and a task force member, told members of the Paola Rotary Club on Thursday, May 23, that if the weather cooperates they hope to have construction completed in time to be walking on the trail by late October at Osawatomie.
Kanza is the volunteer rail-trail organization building the trail from Osawatomie to Herington, Kan.
The Flint Hills Nature Trail now ends about 300 feet west of USD 367 property behind Trojan Elementary School, with no immediate public access. The closest public access point is about one mile west of town where it crosses John Brown Highway.
On Tuesday, May 21, Walker said the task force just received word it was awarded a $35,500 attractions grant from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, bringing the total funds raised to $166,000. The total project cost is estimated at $182,166, which includes trail construction and expanding the west parking lot.
The task force recently received grants from the Baehr and Hawkins foundations totaling $87,166. The city of Osawatomie has pledged $25,000 toward the project, and the task force has collected a few private donations.