For millennia, Cheyenne Bottoms and the Quivira wetlands have been important to wildlife. For centuries, they have grown to be important to humans as well.
Even more recently, the 77-mile Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway that connects the two has become a way of tieing the refuges together and a crucial way of telling their stories. This route is now both a way to highlight their ecological significance and an important economic development tool for the region.
The Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau and the county led the charge a decade ago to get grant funding to create the scenic byway. But, with the recent staff changes within both organizations, the byway committee was left in limbo.
You see, the committee must be affiliated with a government entity to serve as its fiscal agent. This makes it make possible for the group to apply for and receive grant money.
So, the committee asked that the county officially commit to overseeing the fiscal responsibilities. Monday morning, the Barton County Commission obliged.
This doesn’t obligate the county spend money on the byway. The action merely creates an account for the committee to use.
This was a good move on the commission’s part. A lot of work has been done to see to it that this byway be developed and allowed to flourish and it would be a shame to see the committee fall by the wayside.
It and the Flint Hill National Scenic Byway are the only two national scenic byways in Kansas. And, it has become a magnet for hunters, bird watchers and other naturalists, and it and stops along it are the sites of numerous special events.
Now, this effort can continue.