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Category Archives: Outdoors

Governor issues state of disaster emergency for potential wildland fires

TOPEKA, Kan. – Gov. Laura Kelly made a verbal declaration of a State of Disaster Emergency at 9:25 a.m. Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, due to weather conditions that elevate the danger of wildland fires. The conditions for fires in south central and southwest Kansas are extreme today. There are 26 counties in red flag warning throughout Kansas today.

The National Weather Service in Wichita has issued a fire weather watch for extreme grassland fire danger, which is in effect from Friday morning through Friday evening. Winds are projected to be westerly from 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph; relative humidity may be as low as 25 percent.

The governor’s declaration will allow the state to preposition firefighting assets in key areas.

“Getting ahead of any potential fires is key in containing them,’ said Kelly. “Prepositioning firefighting personnel and equipment will allow us to do that and keep Kansans safe.”

“Much of Kansas is primed for wildfire due to the lack of precipitation, dried out fuels, and warm windy conditions,” said Mark Neely, state fire management officer, Kansas Forest Service. “We urge Kansans to be careful outdoors and report any fire immediately.”

Kansas state parks offering free entrance on Black Friday

PRATT, Kan. – There’s no better deal than free and this Friday, there’s no better place to snag that deal than at a Kansas state park. This Black Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, entrance fees will be waived at all Kansas state parks as part of the nationwide #OptOutside initiative.

Those who visit any of Kansas’ 28 state parks on Nov. 26 will also have a chance to win a free night’s stay in a Kansas state park cabin of their choice. To enter, visitors must simply take a “selfie” within any Kansas state park and share it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the tags #OptOutside and #MyKsStatePark.

#OptOutside began after outdoor retail giant REI closed all 150-plus stores for a day in 2015 and paid more than 13,000 employees to instead spend the day outside. It’s since become an annual event for REI, state parks across America, and the millions of people who opt to spend the day outside and enjoy nature.

“We couldn’t be more excited to once again offer free entrance to Kansas’ state parks on Black Friday,” said Linda Lanterman, director of Kansas State Parks. “Being outside in nature does wonders for our physical and mental health, so I hope everyone opts to go outside this year and enjoy a Kansas state park as part of their holiday experience.”

Rail trail group celebrates progress at annual meeting in Overbrook

Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy will be celebrating the past year’s progress on the trails under its cooperation at the group’s annual meeting in Overbrook Saturday. Overbrook is on the Landon Nature Trail, one of the trails under the group’s cooperation.

KRTC members and other trails enthusiasts are invited to attend the meeting, with registration starting at 11 a.m. and lunch for $10 at noon, Nov. 20, 2021, in the community room at the Overbrook Library. Reservations requested for the meal.

Jeff Carroll, owner of Ottawa Bike and Trail, will be the keynote speaker. After learning about the progress the conservancy has made in the past year, members will elect directors to its board.

Nominees for the conservancy’s board include Scott Allen, Council Grove, Scott Averill, Overbrook, Clark Coan, Lawrence, Owen Harbison, Ottawa, Brian Patton, Ottawa, John Payne, Berryton, Linda Schneidewind, Lyndon, and Cheryl Thomas, Lyndon. Other candidates can be nominated at the meeting.

After the meeting, attendees are invited to enjoy the autumn day by walking, riding or biking on the Landon Trail.

For more information about the meeting, or to RSVP for the meal, email [email protected].

In its fall 2021 newsletter, the conservancy reported a new three-mile of the Flint Hills Trail was reopened east of Osage City this summer after improvements. Much of the trail in that area consisted of loose ballast from the railroad bed, and has since been covered with gravel. The Flint Hills Trail has been under development by Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks since a few years ago. KRTC reports the trail is mostly completed for about 94 miles, from Osawatomie to Council Grove, except for a two-mile section west of the U.S. Highway 75 bridge and a 2.3 mile section west of Ottawa. Kansas Department of Transportation has awarded KDWP $5.6 million in federal funds to build a bridge over the BNSF railroad west of Ottawa, and also complete the 2.3 mile stretch of trail there. The bridge project is expected to take three years.

The organization also reported new sections of the Landon Trail were to open this year. One stretch is 1.5 miles from 197th Street to Stubbs Road near Michigan Valley. This will make a nearly seven-mile stretch of open trail from Overbrook to Michigan Valley, bringing the trail to only two miles from Pomona Lake. Another section expected to be open by spring is a two-mile section in the Clinton Wildlife Area. The group’s members continue to work on the Landon Trail near Overbrook, and volunteers are welcomed. To volunteer in the Overbrook area, contact Scott Averill at 785-224-3453 or [email protected].

Bush honeysuckle – invading the underbrush of Kansas

Meet on the trail to learn about bush honeysuckle control

The Frontier Extension District, in conjunction with Ecotone Forestry and the Kansas Wildlife and Parks, will host a meeting regarding bush honeysuckle on at 2 p.m. Nov. 22, 2021. The meeting will be at the Prairie Spirit Trail-Princeton Railhead, just off Galveston Street in downtown Princeton, Kan.

What is bush honeysuckle? It is a wild shrub that has taken over the brush understories in many areas of Kansas. Bush honeysuckle is very noticeable in the spring as it greens up early and flowers in mid-May. In the fall bush honeysuckle holds on to its leaves much longer than our native trees and shrubs giving it an extreme competitive advantage. In the 1800s pioneers used bush honeysuckle as an ornamental plant in landscaping around houses. For anyone who wants to promote native species on their property, controlling bush honeysuckle is a must!

Ryan Neises, owner of Ecotone Forestry, has scouted the area next to the meeting site and has several plants to show for identification, and then will talk about a couple of different control methods. One method is the use of a backpack mist blower and a glyphosate herbicide in the fall, normally late-October through late-November. The other popular method is the cut stump method, where the plant is cut at ground level and the stump is treated with Tordon RTU or glyphosate.

For learn about bush honeysuckle, join in at 2 p.m. Nov. 22, at the Prairie Spirit Trail rest area, Princeton. For more information, contact Ryan Schaub, Frontier Extension horticulture agent, at 785-448-6826 or [email protected].

State experts offer tips for preventing deer-vehicle collisions

PRATT, Kan. – As the days get shorter and weather gets cooler, the breeding season for deer will begin. Traversing pastures, roadways, rivers and streams – male white-tailed and mule deer will begin a nearly month-long quest for suitable mates, stopping for very little, including motorists.

Commonly referred to as the rut, this time of year marks the distinct period when deer-vehicle collisions are most frequent, and the Sunflower State is no exception. That’s why the Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and AAA Kansas offer helpful tips that can help drivers safely navigate Kansas roadways and potentially avoid collisions with deer.

“If you are unfortunate enough to have a deer enter the highway in front of your car, it is best to hit the animal and not swerve to avoid it,” said KHP Lieutenant Candice Breshears. “Often, we find more serious crashes occur when you swerve to miss the deer, potentially losing control of your vehicle, leaving the road or veering into oncoming traffic.”

While the vast majority of deer-vehicle collisions do not involve serious injury, data collected by KDOT indicates that from 2011 to 2019, 51 people have been killed in Kansas crashes involving deer.

“In addition to potentially causing human injuries and loss of life, deer collisions often cause significant vehicle damage that can lead to large expenses for the vehicle owner if not properly insured,” said Shawn Steward, public and government affairs manager for AAA Kansas. “Of the animal strikes reported by AAA Insurance policy holders in 2020, the average cost per claim was nearly $5,500, an increase of more than $1,000 per claim from 2019.”

Steward attributes the higher repair costs to advanced driver assistance technology and the expensive sensors and calibration requirements in newer vehicles.

To avoid incurring costly vehicle repairs, or worse, state experts offer these helpful tips:

  • Be especially watchful at dawn and dusk, when deer are more active.
  • If you see one deer, expect others, as deer seldom travel alone.
  • Drive at a reduced speed and be extra vigilant near wooded areas or green spaces, such as parks and golf courses, and near water sources such as streams and ponds.
  • Deer crossing signs show areas where high numbers of vehicle-deer crashes have occurred in the past; heed these warnings.
  • Use bright lights when there is no oncoming traffic, and scan the road ahead for the reflective eyes of deer.
  • Do not swerve to avoid hitting a deer – the most serious crashes sometimes occur when motorists veer and collide with another vehicle or run off the road and hit an obstacle.
  • Always wear a seat belt and use appropriately-fitting child safety seats, as these are the best defenses in a crash.
  • Honk the vehicle’s horn using one long blast, as this may frighten large animals, such as deer, away from the roadway.
  • Lastly, if a collision occurs, move the vehicle to the shoulder of the roadway, if possible, and call law enforcement – KHP dispatch at *47, the Kansas Turnpike at *KTA and local law enforcement at 911.

Anyone involved in a deer-vehicle crash resulting in personal injury or property damage that totals $1,000 or more is required to immediately report the incident to the nearest law enforcement agency. Failure to report any vehicle crash is a misdemeanor and may result in suspension of driving privileges.

To remove a deer carcass, or any part of a deer, from a crash site, a salvage tag must first be obtained. Salvage tags can be issued by KHP troopers, sheriff’s deputies or KDWP game wardens.

This fall season, motorists can ensure the holiday traffic they encounter remains as safe as possible, for humans and deer, by staying alert and simply slowing down.

Reunion of Flint Hills Girl Scouts will be s’more fun

“Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold,” are words from a well-known Girl Scout song. A silver and gold reunion is planned for current and former Girl Scouts in the Flint Hills region. On Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, “S’more fun with Flint Hills Girl Scouts” begins at 3 p.m. at Camp Double E, Emporia, Kan. A brief program will be at 5 p.m., followed by hot dogs and s’mores around a campfire. This is a come-and-go event.

Throughout the afternoon and evening will be opportunity to reunite with old friends, share 50 years of memories in scrapbooks, play games, hike the trail, and, of course, make new friends. Overnight camping is optional.

Former and current, adult and girl Girl Scouts are all invited, along with their friends and families. RSVP to Paula Roper, Service Unit No. 83 Manager, at 620-343-4088 or [email protected].

“We encourage everyone to gather up past troop members and Girl Scout friends, and make plans to get together at the reunion,” said Roper, “It will be fun to see everyone again.” Service Unit No. 83 and a group of lifetime members are hosting the event.

The original Flint Hills Girl Scout region included the counties of Chase, Coffey, Greenwood, Lyon, Marion, Morris, Osage, and west Elk. In 2007, all Girl Scout councils were part of a national realignment initiative. Girl Scouts of the Flint Hills merged with other Kansas councils to become Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland.

“For years, several of us have talked about getting together again,” said Lynn Smith, former executive director of Girl Scouts of the Flint Hills. “Then COVID came along, and it was impossible to gather, which made reuniting feel more important than ever. I have already heard from several dear friends who plan to come; I’m excited to catch up.”

Camp Double E is located northwest of Emporia on Graphic Arts Road.

Chamber hosts disc golfers for fall tournament at Osage City

Players get ready to tee off at the fall Chamber disc golf tournament. Osage City Chamber photo.

The Osage City Chamber of Commerce has announced its Fall Fling Fest Disc Golf Tournament was a success. Approximately 20 participants enjoyed a beautiful but windy day, Oct. 9, 2021, for the tournament at the Jones Park Disc Golf Course, at Osage City, Kan.

The Osage City Chamber of Commerce hosted the tournament with many prizes for winners, and everyone went home with a raffle item donated by Flint Hills Beverage.

Winners were determined for three levels of participants.

Men’s advanced: Jacob Wade, first place; Wyatt Orender, second place; David Hastings, third place.

Men’s intermediate: Todd Hensley, first place; Luke Orender, second place; Kurt Kitselman, third place.

Women’s intermediate: Kelli Orender, first place.

Men’s novice: Jason Butterfield, first place; Devin Trout, second place; Noah Powell, third place.

Women’s novice: Marisa Zimmerman, first place.

Closest to the pin winner: Noah Powell.

Men longest drive: Jason Butterfield.

Women longest drive: Kelli Orender.

The Osage City Chamber would like to thank the sponsors that supported the tournament and are looking forward to a larger participation for 2022.

Carbondale celebrates autumn with splash of colors

Santa Fe Trail High School KAY Club hosted a color dash and walk and a separate color throw at the Carbondale Fall Festival, held last weekend. As shown, a good time was had by all participants. Photo by Mary Burgett, SFTHS KAY Club sponsor.

Carbondale says farewell to summer with fall festival Saturday

Carbondale is welcoming the end of another Kansas summer with the town’s fall festival this weekend, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. The day of fun features a carnival sponsored by USD 434, concert in City Park, cornhole tournament, car show, color dash, and a community parade.

In addition, the new Carbondale City Library will be the site of a fundraiser book sale in the morning; and other vendors and food trucks will be available downtown. Evening events are highlighted by a “Little Pumpkin” pageant, kids’ games, a street dance featuring Departure, and a beer garden.

See the day’s schedule of events below:

Community Covenant Church celebrates fall with fun for entire family

Community Covenant Church will host a fall festival 4-8 p.m. Sept. 18, 2021, at the church at 334 N. Topeka St., Osage City, Kan. The event promises something for everyone, and families are invited to enjoy vendors and booths set up with crafts, baked goods, and more. There will be games including cornhole and basketball shootout tournaments, and bounces houses will be available for kids, along with face painting and pumpkin painting.

The day concludes with a chili cookoff and chili feed. Contact the church for chili cookoff information, or see www.facebook.com/occomcov. Send entry form to: Community Covenant Church, PO Box 126, Osage City, KS 66523.

Overbrook celebrates fair week, Aug. 11-14, 2021

Parade Saturday evening

The Overbrook Osage County Fair gets underway today, Aug. 11, 2021, at the Overbrook Fairgrounds, with exhibitor check-in starting this morning. The fair features a carnival this year, with wristband nights Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This afternoon, judging of exhibits, dog show, and sheep and goat show are scheduled. On Thursday, Aug. 12, will be the rabbit show, poultry show, and swine show. Friday, Aug. 13, will be the bucket calf show and beef show, with evening events starting at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 14, will be the pet show, kids contests at the soccer field, round robin showmanship contest, and kids pedal tractor pull. A parade begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, in downtown Overbrook, and at 7:15 p.m. the livestock parade of champions will be at the fairgrounds.

Here is the schedule for the remainder of the week:

Overbrook Osage County Fair, Aug. 11-14, 2021

Wednesday, Aug. 11

  • 8-11 a.m. – 4-H exhibitor check-in
  • 10-11 a.m. – 4-H exhibitor and open class exhibitor check-in
  • 11 a.m. – Mandatory meeting for all livestock exhibitors in the show arena
  • 11:15 a.m.-12 p.m. – Meal for all exhibitors and volunteers (concession stand area)
  • 12 p.m – Weigh-in beef, sheep, swine and goats
  • 1 p.m. – Judging of all exhibits will begin; food for sale after judging.
  • 3 p.m. – Dog show (location to be announced at a later date)
  • 7 p.m. – Sheep show followed by dairy and goat show
  • 9 p.m. – Coffman Building will close

Thursday, Aug. 12

  • 8:30 a.m. – Rabbit show
  • 9:30 a.m. – Poultry show
  • 7 p.m. – Swine show
  • 7 p.m. – Event TBD
  • 6-10 p.m. – Wrist band night – Jones Carnival
  • 9 p.m. – Coffman Building closes.

Friday, Aug. 13

  • 6-10 p.m. – Wrist band night – Jones Carnival
  • 6:30 p.m. – Bucket calf show
  • 7 p.m. – Beef show
  • 7 p.m. – Event TBD
  • 9 p.m. – Coffman Building closes.

Saturday, Aug. 14

  • 8:30 a.m. – Pet show (Pet entries due 30 minutes before shows)
  • 10 a.m. – Kid Kontests at soccer field
  • 10 a.m. – Round robin
  • 12 p.m. – Kids pedal tractor pull
  • 5:30 p.m. – Parade with theme, “Straight out of quarantine. What now?”
  • 7:15 p.m. – Livestock parade of champions
  • 7:30 p.m. – Livestock sale
  • 6-10 p.m. – Wrist band night – Jones Carnival
  • 7-11 p.m. – Dueling Pianos, on the midway

Three Osage County lakes under advisories due to blue-green algae

OSAGE COUNTY, Kan. – Three water bodies in Osage County are now under public health advisories by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks due to blue-green algae. Currently, Melvern Outlet Pond and Melvern Outlet Swim Pond are under warning advisories due to algae blooms, and Overbrook City Lake remains under watch status for algae.

A public advisory warning means blue green algae is present and lake water is not safe for consumption by people, pets or livestock, and all water contact should be avoided. A watch means blue-green algae have been detected and harmful algal bloom is present or likely to develop; people are advised to avoid areas of algae accumulation and keep pets and livestock away from the water.

For information on blue-green algae and reporting potential harmful algal blooms, see www.kdheks.gov/algae-illness/index.htm.

Overbrook baseball team finishes season in top 4 of Kansas

The Overbrook Bombers and coaches prepare for their semi-finals game Saturday in the Kansas Junior Legion State Tournament, at the Dean Evans Stadium, Salina, Kan. Courtesy photo.

The Overbrook American Legion Baseball Team, the Overbrook Bombers, made an impact at the 2021 Kansas Junior Legion State Tournament, placing among the top four junior league teams in the state.

The Overbrook team battled through the pool play to score a win against Junction City in the opening game of the tournament July 28; the Bombers beat the Blues 5-4 in that game. The next day at Dean Evans Stadium, Salina, Kan., the Salina Hawks knocked down the Bombers with 16 runs to Overbrook’s 5. Salina’s win helped propel them to the runner-up spot in the finals on Saturday.

Friday, Overbrook took off on another run, taking down Central-Burden, 9-4. That win sent the Bombers to the semi-finals on Saturday, where they faced McPherson’s destructive campaign, and lost after seven innings 11-1. Bomber Trenton Sleichter made Overbrook’s only run in the game in the first inning, batted in by Kyle Strother’s double to left field. McPherson later claimed the tournament title in the championship game against Salina.

“Top 4 in the state was a pretty good run for the Bombers this year,” said Patrick Graham, one of the team’s coaches. “The team battled through pool play to qualify for the semi-finals but fell to McPherson in that round. Then McPherson went on and won the state final game.

“The Bombers’ only losses at the state tournament were to the state champs and the runner-ups,” Graham said.

Graham said after the tournament, the team was notified it was the recipient of Floyd J. Rogers Sportsmanship Award 2021, Junior Division, which is presented by Kansas American Legion Baseball and determined by umpires of the tournament.

Graham said the team was notified of the Sportsman Award by the Legion director.

“He said the award is voted on by the umpires and they thought the boys were class act kids,” Graham said. The team was presented a plaque designating the honor.

The team includes Talan Long, Luke Edwards, Chad Robert, Bryce Torkelson, Colton Warthen, Jalen Smith, Kyle Strother, Trent Sleichter, Drake Graham, Theron Berckefeldt, Brodie Gleason, and Breylan Gleason; and coaches, Head Coach Quinton Sleichter, Coach Patrick Graham, Coach Jason Long, and Coach Daniel Robert.

Overbrook Bombers set sights on state tournament

Overbrook Bombers, front from left, Brodie Gleason, Breylan Gleason, Talan Long, Luke Edwards, Chad Robert, Bryce Torkelson, back, Coach Patrick Graham, Coach Jason Long, Colton Warthen, Jalen Smith, Kyle Strother, Trent Sleichter, Head Coach Quinton Sleichter, Drake Graham; not pictured, Theron Berckefeldt and Coach Daniel Robert. Courtesy photo.

The Overbrook American Legion Baseball Team finished in second place in the American Legion Zone Tournament hosted July 18-23, in Chanute, Kan., to qualify to compete in the 2021 Kansas Junior Legion State Tournament, which begins today, July 28, at Salina, Kan.

The Overbrook American Legion Baseball Team, the Overbrook Bombers, is made up of players who attend Santa Fe Trail High School.

The team is scheduled to play the opening game of the Kansas Junior Legion State Tournament against the Junction City Blues at 1 p.m. today; and 8:30 p.m. July 29 against the Salina Hawks; and 12:30 p.m. July 30 against Central-Burton. The top two teams in each pool will advance to a single elimination tournament, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. The tournament will be played at Dean Evans Stadium, 841 Markley Rd., Salina.

The Overbrook Bombers are sponsored by Overbrook American Legion Post 239.

KDHE, KDWPT issue public health advisories for blue-green algae for 2 Osage County lakes

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks have included two Osage County lakes in public health advisories for Kansas lakes due to blue-green algae.

Melvern Outlet Pond, below Melvern Dam, was upgraded July 22, 2021, to a warning advisory for blue-green algae, while Overbook City Lake, at Overbrook, remains under a watch status.

When a warning is issued, water is not safe to drink for pets, livestock, or people (humans should never consume lake water regardless of blue-green algae status), and all water contact should be avoided. If lake water contacts skin, wash with clean water as soon as possible. During a blue-green algae warning, fish may be eaten if they are rinsed with clean water and only the fillet portion is consumed; all other parts should be discarded. Pets should not be allowed to eat dried algae. People are advised to avoid all areas of visible algae accumulation.

A watch status means that blue-green algae have been detected and a harmful algal bloom is present or likely to develop. People are encouraged to avoid areas of algae accumulation and keep pets and livestock away from the water. During a watch, swimming, wading, skiing and jet skiing are discouraged near visible blooms. Areas of algae accumulation, including dried algae, should be avoided and pets and humans should not consume the water. Clean fish well with potable water and eat fillet portion only.

Signs of a possible bloom include scum, a paint-like surface, or bright green water. These are indications that a harmful bloom might be present. If these conditions are present, avoid contact and keep pets away. Pet owners should be aware animals that swim in or drink water affected by a harmful algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore may become seriously ill or die.

KDHE investigates publicly-accessible bodies of water for blue-green algae when the agency receives reports of potential algae blooms in Kansas lakes. Based on credible field observation and sampling results, KDHE reports potentially harmful conditions.

Lyndon Methodist Church celebrates 150th anniversary by getting all ‘Rev’d Up’

Lyndon United Methodist Church’s ninth annual Get Rev’d Up All Motor Show, held June 19, 2021, also served as a celebration for the church’s 150th anniversary, which was observed a year late due to the pandemic.

This year’s event, Lyndon resident Gene Hirt handed out 172 American Flags as the cars, trucks and motorcycles entered the city park in Lyndon, which was filled to the brim with cars as the show got underway.

The church served homemade biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos and cinnamon rolls inside the shelter house, and later homemade ice cream and lunch. The American Legion came around 9:30 a.m. and Michael Kaufman, Lyndon High School band teacher, played the Star Spangled Banner solo on the saxophone. Music played throughout the morning with DJ Pat Reyle, Rock Star Entertainment, and Mike Cline and the Constant Praise Band, from Atchison, and who have performed at the car show since its beginning.

At the awards ceremony in the afternoon, 32 prizes were awarded, with a special guest, David Wolfe from the Street Rodding American Style PBS program, who presented a “PIZZAZZ” award to Bruce Mishler, of Lyndon. Show participants also were presented door prizes and monetary awards, which were made possible with donations from local businesses and organizations.

LUMC’s memorial picks for 2021 were (award honoree, motor vehicle, owner name):

Frontier Extension recruits Master Gardeners for fall training

Frontier Extension District is taking applications for Master Gardener training scheduled for fall. Do you enjoy working in the garden, flower bed or your lawn? Do you enjoy people, learning new things, and helping out in your community? If you answered “yes” to these questions, the Master Gardner Program could be for you.

In the Master Gardener program, participants learn about plant biology, soils, flowers, trees and shrubs, lawn care, fruits, vegetables, indoor plants, insects, diseases and pesticides. Master Gardeners are asked to give back 40 hours of service and education after completing the training.

The classes will be Thursday afternoons via Zoom, Sept. 2 through Dec. 16, except Nov. 25. For participants who can’t log in at the scheduled times, meetings will be recorded and be available to watch afterward. In addition to the Zoom meetings, there will be three in-class meetings, Oct. 4, Nov. 8 and Dec. 20, in locations around the district, with times and locations to be determined.

EPA, Coffey County landowner, company reach settlement in alleged clean water act violations

USACE enlists EPA for enforcement action over Neosho River bank stabilization project near Burlington

COFFEY COUNTY, Kan. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with Thomas Robrahn, Burlington, Kan., and Skillman Construction LLC, New Strawn, Kan., to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act that occurred on property along the Neosho River. Under the settlement, the parties will pay a $60,000 civil penalty.

The EPA alleged Robrahn and Skillman Construction violated the CWA by placing approximately 400 cubic yards of broken concrete into the river adjacent to Robrahn’s property in an attempt to stabilize the riverbank. The EPA alleged the work impacted about 240 feet of the river and was completed without first obtaining a required CWA permit. The site was on a section of the river that has known populations of Neosho Madtom, a federally listed threatened fish species.

As part of the settlement with EPA, the parties agreed to remove the concrete and restore the impacted site to comply with the CWA.

Under the CWA, parties are prohibited from discharging fill material into water bodies unless they first obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If parties place fill material into water bodies without a permit, the Corps can refer an enforcement case to EPA.

The penalty settlement is subject to a 30-day public notice and comment period. Anyone interested in reviewing the settlement or making a comment about the settlement, can do so here: www.epa.gov/ks/region-7-table-clean-water-act-public-notices.

The Neosho River traverses Coffey County from the northwest to southeast, entering the county near Hartford and the Flint Hills National Wildlife Preserve; it feeds John Redmond Reservoir, which outlets above Burlington, and flows past LeRoy before entering Woodson County near Neosho Falls.

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