County residents forward ideas for preservation
Preserving turn-of-the-century industrial buildings along Pennsylvania Avenue in Lawrence, the Baldwin Woods, a station along the Santa Fe Trail and the county’s dwindling natural prairie land.
These were among the suggestions that residents made Wednesday night on how Douglas County commissioners could spend the $350,000 it had set aside for historic and open space preservation. The suggestions were made to the Natural and Cultural Heritage Task Force, which will recommend the best way to dole out the money. Wednesday was the last of six meetings the task force conducted throughout the county, gathering input on what residents would liked to see preserved.
Along with a list of preservation-worthy projects, the residents encouraged the task force to look for projects that connected with other preservation work and to create a systematic process for identifying what projects need funding.
“There’s been a strong interest in heritage in Lawrence for a long time and many have made contributions to that,” said Dale Nimz, who is executive director of the Kansas Preservation Alliance. “What we don’t have is a coordinating process or a coordinating organization. So I am hoping this task force can take a step toward (that).”
He said the task force should think in terms of cultural landscapes; examples would be Vinland Valley and the Washington Creek area.
Bill Busby, with the Kansas Biological Survey, urged the group to consider natural areas that he said had ecological, environmental, recreational and educational value to Douglas County residents.
Busby recommended preserving the old-growth forest known as Baldwin Woods, protecting the Baker Wetlands that make up the Wakarusa floodplain and developing trails along the Kansas River.
The natural areas are “protecting water quality, protecting high quality soils and sequestering carbon,” Busby said.
Others residents suggested preserving the legacy of the state’s first governor, Charles Robinson; the history of Haskell Indian Nations University; Douglas County’s role in housing Native Americans relocated from the East; and the heritage of the towns now covered by Clinton Lake.