HOISINGTON — The National Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway professionals and volunteers met for a brain storming session on Wednesday in Hoisington to celebrate successes of the past seven years and plan for the future.
The Byway passes through 77 miles of Barton and Stafford County. The goal of developing the Byway was economic as well as to provide conservation.
Only two states have Ramsar sites of international importance. Those are Kansas (Cheyenne Bottoms) and Florida. Cris Collier, Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “The number one request for information that the state tourism office gets is the scenic byways.”
“There are seven slices of a day for a tourist,” said Judy Walden, Walden Mills Group. Money can be made at those seven times, including meals, and between meals, recreation time. Evening is the most profitable.
She said that each community would have to network let each other know activities that are available. “You have a top-notch Byway,” she said. “Everything is in place and is high quality.”
She did have one criticism. “You have to redouble efforts to get into the community.”
The crowd of around 50 brain stormed ideas for the future. Some of them were:
•Increasing knowledge of the area of front line clerks who see the tourist most frequently.
•Increase appreciation amongst area residents of the treasures Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge have to offer.
•More hiking and biking trails.
•Development of supporting businesses such as RV and lodging teepees and local foods.
•Develop the Ellinwood tunnels on the east side of the street.
•Increased water management to allow for more flow into the wetlands.
•Conservation of the resource.
•More pulloffs and kiosks.
•Within communities, provide historical information about walking areas.
•Planting native flowers along highways and roads.
•Develop a byway community.
County Administrator Richard Boeckman listed accomplishments so far.
Some of them are:
•Thematic car tour.
•Kansas Wetlands Education Center.
•Scenic overlook at K-4.
•Established web presence including Facebook and Twitter.
•Launched a national media campaign.
In addition, those with the byway committee from the beginning were recognized.