River trail

This graphic shows the new river trail that will stretch from Junction City to Wamego. Riley County commissioners Monday indicated support for this new trail.

A regional organization is working to create a multi-county trail along the Kansas River.

Riley County commissioners Monday signaled support for a trail stretching from Junction City to Wamego. Commissioners unanimously approved signing a letter of commitment for a grant from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.

This grant will provide crews to help construct and develop this trail, said Amanda Smeller, planning/special projects director. Smeller said the Geary and Pottawtomie county commissions are also involved.

This grant will not provide monetary assistance, Smeller said. Instead, it will provide resources such as staffing and technical assistance for the creation of this trail.

The Flint Hills Regional Council (FHRC) has formed a regional coalition to help move this project forward. Officials will submit this grant application by March 1, when it is due. Officials said this project is in the early stages and expect it to take a few years before it’s completed.

Christy Rodriguez, FHRC executive director, said she will reach out to Pottawatomie County commissioners this week about this project to get their thoughts. Geary County commissioners plan to discuss the topic this week, Rodriguez said.

“Right now, it’s a concept that has not been finalized yet,” she said.

Rodriguez said area entities have shown universal support; she has not heard of anyone against the creation of the trail.

The new river trail, comprised of 44.5 river miles, would likely have paved and unpaved stretches with multi-use paths for bikers and pedestrians.

Once finished, Riley County Commissioner Kathryn Focke thinks it could be an economic driver in the area.

“I know there is a lot of bike riders or walkers that travel all over the state,” Focke said. “They stay at places and support the community. Of course, it is somewhat way down the road. I don’t know how many years it’s going to take to get this project going.”