Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Central Kansas Conservancy (CKC)?

CKC is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation actively engaged in building multi-purpose public recreational trails for non-motorized transportation on former railroad rights-of way (ROW) in central Kansas.

CKC has been recognized as a “qualified private organization” by the Surface Transportation Board (STB), formerly known as the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), the Federal Agency having jurisdiction over interstate railroads.

CKC is currently working on the Meadowlark Trail to connect Lindsborg and McPherson, which when completed will provide approximately 12 miles of contiguous trail between the two cities.

Following the completion of the Meadowlark Trail, CKC will resume working on the Sunflower Santa Fe Trail, 33 miles from McPherson to Marion, part of which has been developed in and around Galva.

These trails can help improve central Kansas’ future by providing economic development opportunities, health and transportation choices, and recreational benefits.

2. What is Rails-to-Trails?

In 1983, Congress amended Section 8(d) of the National Trails System Act to establish a national policy to preserve established railroad rights-of-way for future rail use, and in the interim, establish
recreational trails for public use. This legislation was called the Rails-to-Trails Act or Railbanking and is administered by the Surface Transportation Board (STB). The legislation allowed the Railbanking of rights-of-way in an attempt to keep the corridors intact.

Why? Realizing that people had spent a lot of energy, time and money to establish the corridors and not knowing what the transportation needs might be in the future it made sense to keep them intact for that potential future use.

3. How can I volunteer to help or get involved building trails?

While we occasionally need to hire professional contractors for certain aspects of trail development, CKC relies mostly on volunteers to develop and maintain the trails. Work days are generally on Saturday mornings and vary each month. For the most reliable information or to make a donation, please visit our Central Kansas Trails Facebook Page .

4. Where does CKC obtain the funding to develop the trails?

CKC obtains its funds from donations, membership dues, and charitable grants. We appreciate the patronage and maintenance services voluntarily provided by individuals and local organizations.

5. When the Union Pacific took this particular right-of-way out of service, why didn’t ownership of the right-of-way revert back to the adjacent landowners?

Under the Rails to Trails Act, the STB issued a ruling of Notice of Interim Trail Use (NITU). By that action, the Federal Government took from the landowners their right of reversion of the right-of-way easement.

However, the landowners had a right to receive just compensation from the U.S. Government for that taking. One landowner along the Meadowlark Trail did receive compensation, with attorney fees also paid by the US Government.

Ultimately, CKC entered into an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR). UPRR then transferred the railroad right-of-way to CKC, which named that right-of-way the Meadowlark Trail.

Similarly, the Central Kansas Railroad transferred the 33 mile right-of-way stretching from just east of Seventeenth Ave in McPherson County to the west edge of Marion in Marion County to the CKC. A portion of this right-of-way, known as the Sunflower Santa Fe Trail, is open for public use both east and west of Galva, KS.