Dec 01, 2019 8:19 PM

Months of flooding killed Kansas' trees and state park tourism

Posted Dec 01, 2019 8:19 PM

Heavy rains this spring led to widespread flooding in Kansas. Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service


By BRIAN GRIMMETT

Kansas News Service


The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism stands to lose millions of dollars after record spring rains led to park closures, property damage and washed-out roads.


In most of Kansas, the rain started in early spring and didn’t stop until the end of June. High water levels at reservoirs (where most state parks are located) inundated campgrounds, boat docks and roads.


“We’re not talking about for a week.” Parks Director Linda Lanterman said. “We’re talking six weeks, eight weeks ... so the damage is significant until you can get that water down.”


The timing couldn’t have been worse for Kansas state parks, which depend upon revenue during what Lanterman calls the “Million-Dollar Months” — May, June, July and August — to stay afloat for the rest of the year.


But state parks failed to reach $1 million in each of those months this year. In May, the parks brought in $981,586 compared with $1,065,033 in 2018. The dropoff was even more severe in June, when revenue was $568,743 compared with $1,563,780 in 2018.


Understanding how important these months were, several parks managers tried to stay open until campgrounds were inaccessible. Lanterman said she had to tell a few parks they had to close earlier before floodwaters made it impossible to remove cabins and other equipment.


While parts of a few state parks in eastern Kansas (Perry and Milford) are still flooded, preventing the department from fully assessing the damage, most opened up by mid-July. With the rains gone, the park system made more than $1 million in both July and August from boaters and campers.


“Who would have guessed?” Lanterman said. “Not me.”


But there’s still the issue of repairing damage: Floodwaters have cracked boat docks, washed away gravel from roads, filled restrooms with silt and removed chunks of land underneath concrete campsites and picnic table pads.


The flooding is also going to kill a lot of trees in the state parks.


Dozens of acres of trees have been underwater for months, which means the roots aren’t able to get the oxygen they need.


“We can see clearly they are starting to decline and go downhill,” said Ryan Armbrust, a state forest health specialist with the Kansas Forest Service.


When trees die, especially at this scale, it can have a major impact on the local ecosystem. Armbrust said trees provide shade and homes for animals, and also reduce air pollution. That won’t come back until the next generation of trees.


He’s also worried about what will grow back in place of the lost trees.


“What forest regrows in that area may not necessarily be as functional or as high-quality as what was there before,” he said.


Instead of oak and hickory regrowing (those higher- quality trees), it might be a lot of elms or hackberry. At worst, invasive species such as bush honeysuckle will take advantage of the opportunity to spread, Armbrust said.


It’s not just trees around rivers and lakes either. Armbrust said he expects to get plenty of calls next spring from people with windbreaks on their property, wondering why they don’t look so good.


“Even though the month of May is obviously behind us,” Armbrust said. “We’re still going to be having impacts from that flood event for some time.”


Brian Grimmett reports on the environment, energy and natural resources for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @briangrimmett or email him at [email protected] The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on the health and well-being of Kansans, their communities and civic life.

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Dec 01, 2019 8:19 PM
Movie news you can use

[ By DAN DEMING ]

[ ENTERTAINMENT CONTRIBUTOR ]


"A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood", the Mr. Rogers movie, is likely to totally surprise many audiences, leaving them emotionally drained and perhaps blown away by this relatively low budget, (45 million), film that is likely to be on the Academy Awards "Best Picture" list.


While Tom Hanks is the acting draw and perhaps largely responsible for the movie's 96 percent "want to see" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a little known actor, Matthew Rhys, clearly has the best performance along with strong support from Chris Cooper who some will remember from numerous past roles. 


"Beautiful Day" artfully weaves Fred Rogers feel good, neighborly philosophy into the story of a hard driving journalist assigned to write a 400 word profile of Mr. Red Sweater and his television show, but winds up with much more for Esquire Magazine. Meeting Rogers radically changes the writer's life and personal conduct. The film is only loosely based on an actual writer's l998 article, and while the filmmakers take extensive liberties they come up with a fascinating, heart warming and reflective story of life's perspectives and priorities. 


Billed as a biographical drama, director Marcelle Heller works considerable magic in rolling cameras between Rogers' TV studio and the journalists' reunion with a dying father who years ago abandoned his family. The script delves deeply into dealing with death and what's more important while we are still here.


The film needed ending credits rolling factual information on the real Mr. Rogers, when he was a national icon and his 2003 death to clue in generations not familiar with his unique style, which probably would never be popular in today's polarized society. 

"Beautiful Day" has only Mr. Rogers character in common with a 2018 documentary called "Won't You Be My neighbor". Hanks spent many hours reviewing films to get prepared for his effective look-alike role. 


4 out of a possible 4 stars for this movie but taking along a Kleenex is also recommended. It did a respectable but not flaming 13 million at the box office last weekend while "Frozen II" became another Disney classic with 130 million in U.S. sales and 400 million worldwide. Both are available again this weekend at Hutchinson's B&B Theatre and watch soon for a who-done-it mystery called "Knives Out". 



“Movie news you can use” is a weekly feature submitted by Dan Deming. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Hutch Post or its affiliates.