Officials with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) are proposing eliminating the Prairie Spirit Trail’s daily access fee (currently $3.50 per day, or $12.50 per year).
Although the fee is very modest, for some people it is a barrier to use for the trail, or at least an unwelcome annoyance. KDWPT is committed to making the trail as easy to access as possible, in order to maximize the number of people using it, and to maximize the economic impact for the communities along the trail.
Eliminating the fee would certainly make things less complicated for potential users — no more having to stop to register at a kiosk, no more having to carry the correct change, no more concerns about not losing the receipt. It would also make it easier for events to be staged on the trail, without having to worry about getting participants registered, or adding a surcharge to event costs to cover the usage fees.
And though the fee does bring in some funds for KDWPT, it also carries significant expense — rangers needing to stop trail users to ask for their permit, collection of fees, maintenance and restocking of permit kiosks — as well as creating potential conflicts between park rangers and the public.
Also a factor in KDWPT’s proposal is the new Flint Hills Trail State Park, which intersects the Prairie Spirit Trail in Ottawa, and which is free to use. Likewise, at the southern end of the trail, in Iola, the Southwind Rail Trail, Lehigh Portland Trails, and Mo-Pac Trail are free.
KDWPT officials plan to submit the PST fee elimination proposal to the Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission at its workshop on August 2nd in Medicine Lodge, with a vote scheduled for October 25th at the commission meeting in Colby. KDWPT hopes to be able to officially eliminate the fee for 2019.
If you support the elimination of the Prairie Spirit Trail daily usage fee, it would be helpful to contact the commissioners with your thoughts, either by phone or email. You can find their contact information here.