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Kansas Wants More Visitors, Federal Designation For Arkansas River

Andrea Allen, flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism wants a federal designation for a stretch of the Arkansas River, hoping to boost the number of local visitors and tourists. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur has more…

The Arkansas River is the 6th longest river in the country, providing over 180 miles of navigable water in Kansas alone. But officials with Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism say it’s not living up to its potential.

Jessica Mounts is a fisheries biologist with the state.

“I would definitely say the Arkansas River is being underutilized,” Mounts says. “Especially outside the city limits of Wichita.”

Kansas would like to add a stretch between Great Bend and the Oklahoma border to the National Water Trail System, a tourism and sustainability program of the National Parks Service. Mounts says it would help create a network of public access points and help communities promote their waterways.

“We have access points, and we have plans to do more, but this designation will help us build something that will be really sustainable and will last forever,” she says.

The Kansas River was added to the National Water Trails System in 2012. Mounts says the designation has been successful in bringing more people to the river’s banks.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will have to go through an application and approval process before the Arkansas River can be added.